Lady Vols rally to beat Middle Tennessee State in overtime, 88-81

No. 16 Lady Vols have to rally twice

Tennessee's Meighan Simmons smiles are she is encouraged by teammates Cierra Burdick, left, and Kamiko Williams during overtime at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday, November 28, 2012. 
  
  
 (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2012 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's Meighan Simmons smiles are she is encouraged by teammates Cierra Burdick, left, and Kamiko Williams during overtime at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Tennessee survived a determined upset bid by Middle Tennessee State — not once but twice Wednesday night.

First, the Lady Vols needed nearly 36 minutes to get their first lead, only to squander a five-point advantage in the final minute of regulation.

The Lady Vols then trailed by two points in overtime before rallying again for an 88-81 women's basketball victory before a crowd of 10,798 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Meighan Simmons, who led No. 16 Tennessee (5-1) with 19 points, characterized the grueling, hard-fought game as "a test."

"It's a test to see where our mentality is," the junior guard said. "When adversity hits, what are we going to do?"

Middle Tennessee State (4-2) created nearly 45 full minutes worth of adversity for the Lady Vols. Playing pretty much with five players, the Blue Raiders opened a 28-16 lead in the first half. They withstood a first UT rally and led 55-44 with 14:26 left.

Even after Tennessee surged ahead 73-68 with 55 seconds left, the Blue Raiders were undeterred. Forward Icelyn Elie, who scored a game-high 21 points, sent the game into overtime with a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left.

"Even when they did take the lead, we were still confident that we could win that ballgame," MTSU forward Ebony Rowe said.

Simmons was one of four Lady Vols scoring in double figures. Bashaara Graves and Ariel Massengale each scored 15 points. Isabelle Harrison scored 10.

Graves also grabbed 12 rebounds.

Rowe had 19 points and 12 rebounds for MTSU.

Laken Leonard hit five 3-pointers and scored 17. Shanice Cason had 13.

Injuries hit both teams, beginning with MTSU losing center KeKe Stewart early in the game with a knee injury.

Tennessee freshman guard Andraya Carter re-injured her right shoulder and left with 7:35 left. Head coach Holly Warlick said that Carter's injury will be further evaluated today.

Massengale and Graves both suffered leg cramps in the second half but returned to play.

UT sophomore guard Jasmine Phillips was unavailable because of what Warlick described as "a violation of team rules."

Like Sunday against Alcorn State, Tennessee's Kamiko Williams didn't necessarily stand out on the stat sheet, scoring nine points. But the senior guard still left an indelible mark on the game.

Williams' steal and driving 10-foot bank shot gave UT its first lead, 64-63 with 4:26 left. She nearly was the hero in regulation after her 3-pointer supplied the aforementioned five-point edge inside the final minute.

The Blue Raiders had other ideas and their own heroes with Rowe's jumper serving as a prelude to Elie's clutch shot.

Massengale said that Lady Vols weren't at loss for resolve as they regrouped following the regulation finish.

"We just looked at each other and said, 'Hey five more minutes. We're not losing this game,' " she said.

Again, the Blue Raiders had their own agenda, leading 77-75 in overtime when Rowe missed a shot and MTSU coach Rick Insell suggested that the officials missed a foul call.

"You have to live with that stuff on the road," he said.

Tennessee regained the lead thereafter with two free throws apiece from Cierra Burdick and Simmons. Then Williams struck again with her steal setting up a Simmons' basket and an 81-77 lead with 1:54 left.

Williams drew a charge and fifth foul from Cason with 36 seconds left, essentially deciding matters. Williams joked afterward, "it was probably my one charge for the season."

If so, she picked a good time.

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Comments » 35

bmaples writes:

Comeback wins early in the season are good for a team; comeback overtime wins are even better. Congrats Lady Vols on gutting out a tough one!

Bruce in Louisville

underthehill writes:

watched this one on utsports.com..total team effort..Kamiko played key role defending MTSU point guard in 2nd half..too many turnovers but team has more overall speed than last year and should be able to improve on defense...

Theo writes:

Did Andraya fall and hit her shoulder? Just listened to the radio broadcast and no details on the injury.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Last year the lady vols would have lost that game in regulation much less overtime...I am so proud of this year's team. And Kamiko...you bad!

FearTheVols1252 writes:

Whoever posted this article might want to learn how to spell Tennessee... headline is wrong.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

I wonder who gave the halftime motivational speech. Give both teams a lot of credit because there were times when both could have folded their tent and quit. This battle lasted the whole 45 minutes and both teams will learn from it.

underthehill writes:

in response to Theo:

Did Andraya fall and hit her shoulder? Just listened to the radio broadcast and no details on the injury.

Looked like she reached in to try to strip the ball from an MTSU player driving the lane..

ladyvolsfan789 writes:

Awesome play from both teams. It was a really exciting game down the stretch and I really like the grit the Lady Vols had to come from behind from the win. I think UT sports is gonna put up a replay of this game sometime in the next few days, so if you get the chance watch it!

SoddyVol writes:

These Tenn ladies think they have hard practices. Except for two players in for a total 1 & 2 minutes, MTSU played only 5 players. They seemed to be in better shape than Tenn. I didn't see them cramping up like one or two of Vols. Guess they are used to playing the whole game without a break.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

After finding the game being carried on UT Sports.Com........I started watching with the Lady Vols down by 11 in the second half. The 2 teams kept trading baskets until about 4 minutes left. Then, the L V's grabbed a 5 point lead on 2 occasions at the end of regulation. Help me on this one.......we were up by 3 with seconds left. MTSU came down the floor.......and am I the only one in the amateur world of basketball who was saying "foul them now?" Don't even let them have a 3. But, it just seemed our defense was to 'hope they didn't make the 3.' And,of course they did hit the 3 and poof.......overtime.

Watching this game after that, in o t MTSU got the lead and had the ball. The flow of the game just made me feel this was going to be a loss. Shame on me for giving it up and watching something else. Even with this being a young team, they proved they will scrap and claw and win some of these games.

If they can avoid the injury bug and gain confidence along the way, they'll do just fine.

underthehill writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

After finding the game being carried on UT Sports.Com........I started watching with the Lady Vols down by 11 in the second half. The 2 teams kept trading baskets until about 4 minutes left. Then, the L V's grabbed a 5 point lead on 2 occasions at the end of regulation. Help me on this one.......we were up by 3 with seconds left. MTSU came down the floor.......and am I the only one in the amateur world of basketball who was saying "foul them now?" Don't even let them have a 3. But, it just seemed our defense was to 'hope they didn't make the 3.' And,of course they did hit the 3 and poof.......overtime.

Watching this game after that, in o t MTSU got the lead and had the ball. The flow of the game just made me feel this was going to be a loss. Shame on me for giving it up and watching something else. Even with this being a young team, they proved they will scrap and claw and win some of these games.

If they can avoid the injury bug and gain confidence along the way, they'll do just fine.

Don't know if it was a coaching mistake or player mistake but I think the correct play was to foul when MTSU crossed the half and send them to the free throw line for 2 shots..Simmons left her feet and got out of position on the made 3 pointer..what I liked most was the total team effort...

jt45 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

After finding the game being carried on UT Sports.Com........I started watching with the Lady Vols down by 11 in the second half. The 2 teams kept trading baskets until about 4 minutes left. Then, the L V's grabbed a 5 point lead on 2 occasions at the end of regulation. Help me on this one.......we were up by 3 with seconds left. MTSU came down the floor.......and am I the only one in the amateur world of basketball who was saying "foul them now?" Don't even let them have a 3. But, it just seemed our defense was to 'hope they didn't make the 3.' And,of course they did hit the 3 and poof.......overtime.

Watching this game after that, in o t MTSU got the lead and had the ball. The flow of the game just made me feel this was going to be a loss. Shame on me for giving it up and watching something else. Even with this being a young team, they proved they will scrap and claw and win some of these games.

If they can avoid the injury bug and gain confidence along the way, they'll do just fine.

I was stunned they let the lead slip away in the final seconds and honestly couldnt believe they let MTSU put up either one of their last 2 shots in regulation. Im not sure why Coach Warlick missed that chance to put the game away, but I have to say these girls showed more grit hanging on for the win than I did trying to watch the game. I thought this game was a loss by halftime.
MTSU looked like their best test to date IMO. I hope they get better on perimeter defense. They are faster than last years team but still seemed a bit slow at times against MTSU,s guards. Burdick isnt shooting as well as Ive seen from her in the past. Still it was a great win and a good test wich may possibly help them in future close games.

HarveyDent writes:

It's funny that their coach mentions a missed foul. From my vantage point it seemed like the officials realized that MTSU was only playing 6 and called it that way. There was a lot of contact yet few calls.

HarveyDent writes:

in response to Theo:

Did Andraya fall and hit her shoulder? Just listened to the radio broadcast and no details on the injury.

I think she may have dislocated it. We'll see.

blewissmith writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

After finding the game being carried on UT Sports.Com........I started watching with the Lady Vols down by 11 in the second half. The 2 teams kept trading baskets until about 4 minutes left. Then, the L V's grabbed a 5 point lead on 2 occasions at the end of regulation. Help me on this one.......we were up by 3 with seconds left. MTSU came down the floor.......and am I the only one in the amateur world of basketball who was saying "foul them now?" Don't even let them have a 3. But, it just seemed our defense was to 'hope they didn't make the 3.' And,of course they did hit the 3 and poof.......overtime.

Watching this game after that, in o t MTSU got the lead and had the ball. The flow of the game just made me feel this was going to be a loss. Shame on me for giving it up and watching something else. Even with this being a young team, they proved they will scrap and claw and win some of these games.

If they can avoid the injury bug and gain confidence along the way, they'll do just fine.

The worst part was UT had only 5 team fouls at the time...a foul was the only option and it didn't happen.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to tonyvick#213307:

Last year the lady vols would have lost that game in regulation much less overtime...I am so proud of this year's team. And Kamiko...you bad!

Very good point, this team has intestinal fortitude and focus. Last year they seemed to be deer in the headlights disconnected, and understandable with PS's resignation.

ps11824 writes:

We're all better. smarter coaches watching, especially post game. I have to admit, I expected a 'most likely' loss tonight. I believed MT was a better team than UTC, and was expecting a battle. I'm happy happy our LVs stayed tough and battled the Raiders to get the win. Show toughness. I believe they are getting better. I suppose the collaboration of smart coaches on our bench had their reasons for the plays they called, and we don't know IF the play was executed as drawn up. Let us not harshly judge Holly. We won. She won. I love my Lady Vols. Keep working hard.

Clayeagle writes:

Great basketball game!! MTSU is a very talented team and was not intimated at all. The Lady Vols looked out of sync much of the time but rallied and kept their composure to pull out the win.

RLL59 writes:

A win is a win...take it. The young Lady Vols played hard as usual, and are gaining valuable experience. The freshmen are clearly a talented group. But, disappointingly, the names have changed, but the same old problems remain. The Lady Vols play a frantic, overguarding defense that intimidates poorer players, but results in easy baskets and fouls against better teams. There is no cohesive offense and no screens are set to open up shooters. There are no set lineups and Kamiko remains on the bench for most of the game. Despite the number of players getting significant minutes, players are still cramping near the end of the games. Note that nearly every one of these issues is directly in the control of the coaching staff. I had hoped that Holly would have addressed these areas now that she has control, but to this point, I don't see any improvement. I hope I'm wrong, but I think that again the team will be less than the sum of the individual players, and the results will not be good against the tough schedule the Lady Vols face.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

This was another good test of composure for our lady Vols. MTSU to me is a top 30 team and they do have a potential All-American candidate in Eboni Rowe so yes the Vols must improve quickly on perimeter defense because we have O.Sims and the Orrange girl from Stanford that can tear up a weak defense . I love our post play but we need Burdick to discover her shot. She should be automatic at this point in the season. Simmons still has to dish the ball out and not always look to shot. I like Izzy natural shot blocking capability. Will need that against penetrating guards. Graves plays well beyond her years. Not a freshman anymore.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

hehe...Sometimes you just gotta play harder than the other team.

WTG LVs.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SoddyVol:

These Tenn ladies think they have hard practices. Except for two players in for a total 1 & 2 minutes, MTSU played only 5 players. They seemed to be in better shape than Tenn. I didn't see them cramping up like one or two of Vols. Guess they are used to playing the whole game without a break.

Interesting point. In fact, many good teams don't play more than seven or eight players for the most part. The cohesion and sense of responsibility players develop when they play together all the time is invaluable. Good coaches know how to give a player a few minutes rest by substituting somebody for a minute or so before a media timeout. That gives the starter as much as five minutes of rest while only seconds may come off the game clock. Individual conditioning obviously plays a role also. Since I didn't see any stats indicating that the teams shot amazing percentages, the score would indicate that it was a fast-paced game.

I'm hoping that as the season goes on, the players will become accustomed to longer playing stints and the rotation will shorten a bit to no more than seven or eight regular players. That can be a morale problem on a squad like the LVs have, with All-America type players all the way down the bench, but it can be handled by good coaching. This team likely won't win the NCAA this year, but they should lay a firm foundation for championship teams in the coming years.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

MTSU played with just 5 players and almost won. Great conditioning. Our coaches has to establish a starting 5 and stick with them . I've always felt like we rotate too many players too often in games. Players don't get time to get a feel for the game and get hot. Who starts for the team anyway? My starters
Graves
Burdick
Kamiko
Carter
Ariel

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ANYONE_BUT_LIBS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not necessarily. It seems to me that they lost a few to teams like MTSU. Bashaara Graves seems to be a worthy replacement for Glory--whom I loved, BTW--but you never knew last year if Shekinah would show up. I'm not always in love with Meighan's shot selection, either, but she isn't afraid to take the shot; if the coaches didn't like it, they could always sit her down. I'm pretty sure MTSU will be in the Big Dance if all their players stay healthy. I agree with others; this was a good win against a good team that an LV team with less gumption, like some in the recent past, could have easily lost to.

vettefool writes:

in response to underthehill:

Don't know if it was a coaching mistake or player mistake but I think the correct play was to foul when MTSU crossed the half and send them to the free throw line for 2 shots..Simmons left her feet and got out of position on the made 3 pointer..what I liked most was the total team effort...

you are correct. the lv only had 5 fouls at the time. should have fouled and fouled again to put mtsu at line for 1+1. just poor coaching from the staff.
thought our conditioning would be better. could be a long season.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

The way Mickey Deerstone called this game, two things are clear: MTSU girls are big league players, and Lady Vols Shoot no better this year than they did last year. Defense has been the mantra for as long as I can remember, but in fact the ball going down the net is what wins games. Every team the LV's played last year had two, at least, shooters who got red hot. The ladies didn't have a single one, and relied entirely on the inside game. I would love to see Simmons try 100 threes a game, since nobody else can shoot one.

ps11824 writes:

I wish we could develop lock-down defensive-minded players like, Semeka Randall, Tamika Catchings. Perhaps we can. They came here as beasts on D. Kyra was pretty darn good at frustrating her opponent. I'm hoping she will influence Simmons as the article suggested. Right now, we commit stupid fouls for some reason. I'm certain those kinds of things will be corrected soon.

NC will wipe the floor with us IF we don't play lock-down defense, keep our turnovers, especially unforced, way down and make those shots. FINISH THOSE SHOTS! No reason to miss layups, ladies. No reason to blow freebies. I want to be surprised when Sunday's game is over. I want to see some serious celebrating after WINNING that game. Make those recruits sorry for choosing the baby blue over the ORANGE.

Holly, this is the time to make a statement. "Lady Vols are working hard. Hard work pays off."

underthehill writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

MTSU played with just 5 players and almost won. Great conditioning. Our coaches has to establish a starting 5 and stick with them . I've always felt like we rotate too many players too often in games. Players don't get time to get a feel for the game and get hot. Who starts for the team anyway? My starters
Graves
Burdick
Kamiko
Carter
Ariel

Harrison has to play center and she is coming along very well..getting more physical and reacting better on defense..Kamiko is the most athletic player and Holly having her defend the MTSU point guard was the best coaching decision in the game..Kamiko does things no other player on this team can do and as the season goes on I think her role will expand..she seems ok with coming off the bench..so far this team handles mistakes and adversity far better than last year's team..I love not having to worry if a talented player is going to show up and play hard..so far..none of that with this bunch..good sign...

Theo writes:

OK - umm, we won right? Hard to tell from some of the posts.
This game very much had the potential to be a "trap" game before playing UNC this weekend.
Regarding criticism of Holly - please, she obviously felt better defending the three than fouling them a couple of times, maybe ending up with an intentional foul, maybe they hit the front of the 1+1 and then rebound to hit a three and win the game.
Some of the folks on here who b**** about Holly remind me of the men's boards. Not fans just very unhappy people who have found an anonymous forum for their own personal issues.
Support the whole team, that includes the coaches. BTW I do know that some of these folks are just trolls; an even more pathetic group.

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

Hope many of you had an opportunity to listen to Mickey D interview his player of the game, Kamiko williams, after the game. She was a joy to listen to. Yea, I love to see the LVs win games but what is even more satisfying to me is the elocution these young ladies show in their interviews. Listening to Kamiko last night leads me to believe that she will continut to improve and become a leader on this team.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Everyone has a right to a opinion on this board. That's why comments still remains so popular on this website. Anyway Sunday will be the start of another great rivalry against the babies in powder blue. We went after a couple of these girls and I think we came out on top with our frosh. Can't wait to see Baashara against X. McDaniels. Then next year its our best freshmen against their best class. Should be some great games between these two teams

ladyvolsfan789 writes:

I still think that people who criticize Simmons for being a ball hog haven't watched her play this season. Her shot selection is much better than it was last year and the majority of her shots have come from open 3 point shots, open mid range jumpers, or drives to the basket. I believe that last season her shot percentage was around the low 30s or even the high 20s for most of the year. Right now it's in the mid 40s that's the sign of a player who is taking better shots. Kamiko did some amazing things to help us put the game away, but Simmons was just as important at keeping the game close in the first place.

use_your_words writes:

in response to pomp_and_circumstance:

The way Mickey Deerstone called this game, two things are clear: MTSU girls are big league players, and Lady Vols Shoot no better this year than they did last year. Defense has been the mantra for as long as I can remember, but in fact the ball going down the net is what wins games. Every team the LV's played last year had two, at least, shooters who got red hot. The ladies didn't have a single one, and relied entirely on the inside game. I would love to see Simmons try 100 threes a game, since nobody else can shoot one.

<I would love to see Simmons try 100 threes a game, since nobody else can shoot one.>

Last night Arial made two 3s (of six), Simmons made one of two, and Kamiko made the clutch-shot-of-the-game 3-pointer with four seconds on the shot clock. Just sayin'.

VOL1SG writes:

I can remember Coach Insell when he coached HS at Shelbyville. He is a tough coach. His girls were always prepared. he coached the boy's team for a week when our head coach had a death in the family. We played the defending state champions that Friday and came very close to beating them. I am just glad he lost and hope he continues to lose. He is the very reason my sister did not pick up an offer from Pat, (who I had the opportunity to meet twice), I still hold that against him. I am just glad to see them playing with heart and hope Coach W gets them to play defense.

reachkim00 writes:

Great game ladies, hanging in there and getting the win. GO LADY VOLS!

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