Holly Warlick on the Lady Vols' win over Vandy
Shekinna Stricklen expended her share of effort on Tennessee's behalf Sunday afternoon.
The Lady Vols' senior forward scored a team-high 20 points and played an active part in a second-half defensive revival, which insured an 87-64 SEC women's basketball victory over Vanderbilt.
And then she struggled to the interview room afterward to assess the painful ending to her day.
Stricklen arrived on crutches with her right knee wrapped in ice. She went down after banging knees with a Vanderbilt player while going after a rebound with just about 3 minutes left. Stricklen hit the ground clutching her knee and screaming. The initial prognosis was that Stricklen suffered a sprain of her right knee. She will be re-evaluated today.
"All I remember, I was going up for the ball,'' she said. "I don't know, her knee hit my knee and I came down wrong. I probably hyperextended it but I really don't know. ... I'm not sure."
No doubt the game exacted a physical price. Lady Vol Glory Johnson banged her head on the court before halftime and was sporting an ice bag on her left elbow afterward. And she said that her hip
hurt the most.
The toll might have been greater, though, if the Lady Vols hadn't sweated the defensive details after halftime, entertaining a crowd of 17,879 at Thompson-Boling Arena in the determined process. After essentially trading baskets with Vanderbilt for the first 20 minutes, No. 6 Tennessee (13-4, 4-1 SEC) had a hand in 13 second-half turnovers by No. 25 Vanderbilt (14-3, 2-2), converting them into 15 points. The Lady Vols also limited the Commodores to eight baskets after the break.
"We got serious about it,'' UT associate head coach Holly Warlick said.
Along with Stricklen, Johnson got back in double-double gear with 16 points and 13 rebounds. She had five of UT's 14 steals. too. Vicki Baugh scored 16 points off the bench and Meighan Simmons added 10. Freshman point guard Ariel Massengale orchestrated much of the scoring with a career-high 12 assists.
The Lady Vols' team effort eclipsed another great singular performance achieved at their expense. Vanderbilt guard Christina Foggie matched her career high with 27 points.
"I was disappointed in the second half just because I felt like they really outworked us, outhustled us and were more aggressive and we didn't rise to that challenge,'' Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said.
Tennessee shot 52.9 percent from the floor (36 for 68) primarily by accomplishing what it couldn't do against Kentucky on Thursday. After missing 11 layups in a 61-60 loss to the Wildcats, UT was 20 for 25 from point-blank range against the Commodores.
The defense was a factor in the number of opportunities. And UT head coach Pat Summitt's halftime pep talk was a factor in UT's second-half play.
"It doesn't hurt to remind them about the pride of wearing the Orange,'' Summitt said during her postgame comments. "Especially when you're playing your cross-state rival in Vanderbilt."
In this case, the Orange included the "We back Pat" shooting shirts the players were wearing as the SEC began its weeklong initiative to bring aware to Summitt's Foundation Fund and the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
"We know we're Tennessee and we can't just put on the Orange and win," Baugh said. "I think she reinforced that."
It was going to take more effort and, in some cases, more pain in order to prevail.
"I know we have the best trainers,'' said Stricklen in summing up her situation, "and I know I'll be all right."