Louisville stops Lady Vols' run to Final Four, 86-78

Lady Vols guard Meighan Simmons (10) reacts after a foul was called on her in the second half against Louisville during the 2013 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament regional final at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., Tuesday, April 2, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Lady Vols guard Meighan Simmons (10) reacts after a foul was called on her in the second half against Louisville during the 2013 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament regional final at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., Tuesday, April 2, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Even without towering Brittney Griner blocking the route, Tennessee still couldn’t get to the Final Four.

Louisville punched its ticket instead, knocking out the Lady Vols 86-78 Tuesday night in the Oklahoma City regional final.

Shoni Schimmel scored 24 points to lead the fifth-seeded Cardinals (28-8). Before a crowd of 6,147 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, they staged a nearly identical follow-up to Sunday’s upset of defending national champion Baylor and Griner, its All-American center.

The Cardinals built a 20-point lead and then held off a desperate rally by No. 2 seed Tennessee (27-8). Led by Taber Spani’s 20 points, the Lady Vols whittled 17 points off the deficit. However, Spani missed a shot at a tie on a 3-pointer with 4:08 left.

That was as close to New Orleans as the Lady Vols could get.

Along with Schimmel, who was named the regional’s most outstanding player, Louisville had five double-figure scores and made eight 3-pointers

The Lady Vols matched the Cardinals for double-figure scorers but couldn’t overcome a misspent first half.

Tennessee’s problems began on offense. Louisville used multiple defensive alignments to thwart the player and ball movement that was so prevalent in the Lady Vols’ regional semifinal victory over Oklahoma.

Tennessee had just one point to show for its first seven possessions.

“It may have rattled us some,” UT assistant Dean Lockwood said. “But that’s where you respond at the other end of the floor and we couldn’t do that.”

With every UT missed shot or turnover, the Cardinals went on the attack.

Schimmel started by hitting jumpers and later cut off a screen for a driving layup. When her sister, Jude, hit a corner 3-pointer, Louisville’s early lead reached double figures, 22-11.

Sheronne Vails and Antonita Slaughter both scored putback baskets, expanding the advantage to 31-14.

Kamiko Williams was the only UT starter who summoned any semblance of a first-half response, scoring six points. The other four starters, meanwhile, combined for four points in the first 20 minutes.

UT rallied within 11 points twice. But then the Schimmels struck again.

Shoni first scored on a spinning, driving layup. She followed by throwing a home-run pass over Tennessee’s press to Jude for a breakaway layup.

So much for Tennessee’s rally. The deficit was 41-26 at halftime.

UT finally got the deficit into single digits, 62-53, when Bashaara Graves hit two free throws with 9:04 left.

Meighan Simmons’ first basket, a 3-pointer, pulled the Lady Vols within 64-56. She eventually finished with 12 points, but shot 4 for 16 from the floor.

“I feel like I let my team down,” Simmons said.

Spani and Williams both made the all-tournament team.

“This team never gives up and we believed in each other,” Spani said. “We just put ourselves in too big of a deficit at the beginning and our defense wasn’t the way it’s been the last few games. It let us down.”

Dan Fleser covers Tennessee women’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser

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Comments » 151

volpreacher writes:

Terrible first half. And when they got close officials made sure it didn't happen. Several bad calls especially the walk on Simmons. Whistle wasn't blown until she took 3 dribbles. I played it back in dvr to make sure. Oh well good run

hallmo11 writes:

Tough loss; but our ladies battled back and had a shot to tie late. Hurting for Spani and Williams. You exceeded expectations and (dare I say)....just wait 'til next year. Thanks for an exciting season. Proud to be a Lady Vol fan!
And Holly, thanks for getting us this far. We will look for even better next year.

richvol writes:

Lack of execution and offensive futility hurt this team against the best teams all season. Let's hope that we see progress next season. We need a real point guard and a true post. If we add those pieces we still must execute better. In spite of that this season was not a disapointment as the LadyVols reached further into the tourney than anyone anticipated at the beginning of the year.

oldbasshead writes:

When the going gets tough, the Lady Vols don't have enough vim and vigor.

movinonup writes:

So proud of our Lady Vols and Coach Holly. Raise your hand if at the first of the year you would have taken Elite 8 with a good shot at going to Final 4. Here's to the future !

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Overall, a pretty good season. Sadly, some of the worst basketball played by the Vols takes place in the tournaments.

It was painful to watch..........especially that first half. Simmons and Taber were AWOL in the first half, and 1 point from Massengale just won't cut it.

When a team comes into the game on a roll as did Louisville, you have to step up your own intensity to deal with them. That just never happened, and once down 20, it was basically over.

Comparing the really good teams, we can see how having someone like Diggins can make your team go. We just never had that type player this year.

Anyway, winner of U Conn vs Notre Dame is going to win it all .

Plenty of time for Holly and staff ( plus players ) to look at what's necessary to compete on the big stage.

oldbasshead writes:

Why does Simmons play her worse in big games. In other the bigger the game the worse she plays.

PureOrange writes:

If you go into the game not sure you can win, you probably won't. We played two thirds of the game convinced we could not beat Louisville. It is a forty minute game. Until we are willing to give it all for the full forty, then we will continue to come up short.

Hate to go out like this. We just helped the Big East to bragging rights for the next year. Play hard or go home!

oldbasshead writes:

I didn't think Coach Warlick did a good job getting her team ready and She did not do a good job during the game. They did make some good half time adjustments.

oldbasshead writes:

I wish Warlick had played Ciara more in place of Graves. Graves looked hurt most of the game. Ciara plays better the longer she plays.

lstbodeanvol writes:

Great season Lady Vols....thank you Taber Spani and Kamiko Williams for your senior leadership....now Id like to see a one on one game between Meighan and "OLDBASSHEAD" GO LADY VOLS !!!!!!!

CaliVOL2 writes:

Great job this year, Lady Vols. I can hardly wait till next year.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

I haven't had a chance to see the stats and even though this is not the reason we lost, still check out the free throws. Louisville was automatic at the line and we clanked a lot of them up there. More than likely, their margin was at the line........just a guess.

Louisville 3's? When you're up by a big margin, there isn't all that much pressure to make them, and when Louisville took them and made them, it was a dagger.

How good is Andraya Carter? Can she take over at point guard next year? The talent should be there...........will the effort?

volaholic45 writes:

Out-hustled. Simmons disappearing act. Everything bouncing Louisville's way. = loss.

Benionsopinion writes:

Kudos to a Louisville team that played inspired basketball.Lady Vols looked pedestrian in the first half,no energy,no passion,and low basketball IQ.The coaching staff seemed as lost as the players.Second half was much better,but the hole was too deep to dig out.I agree with earlier comment about point guard and post,but three new players include no pg .We'll hope for Andraya Carter to be that answer.

oldbasshead writes:

in response to lstbodeanvol:

Great season Lady Vols....thank you Taber Spani and Kamiko Williams for your senior leadership....now Id like to see a one on one game between Meighan and "OLDBASSHEAD" GO LADY VOLS !!!!!!!

If I could get Meghan in a really big game, I might be able to take her even at my age. All you have to do is look at her record in the biggest games and it jumps out like a headline. Tonight when the game was all but over she started hitting shots again.

Volinflan writes:

in response to PureOrange:

If you go into the game not sure you can win, you probably won't. We played two thirds of the game convinced we could not beat Louisville. It is a forty minute game. Until we are willing to give it all for the full forty, then we will continue to come up short.

Hate to go out like this. We just helped the Big East to bragging rights for the next year. Play hard or go home!

Doesn't that have something to do with the coaching?

r2d2 writes:

TN lost to Louisville because of poor paint defense and lack of an offensive takeover player. I believe Ms. Russell will help with the paint defense. I am not sure who will develop into a offensive takeover player like Skylar Diggins of ND.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

I just saw the stats, so can answer my own question. At the line, Louisville was 18-21 and Tennessee, 15-24. But Graves was 5-10.

Actually, Tennessee did score 52 points in the second half. That first half was a killer. Girls just couldn't defend and couldn't hit any baskets.

All in all, very proud of the season anyway.
Next year, come out smoking and don't lay an egg against somebody like Chattanooga to start off.

Most of the big name teams lose a lot of players, but they'll probably reload.
Duke doesn't lose anyone.

Tennessee should be even better IMO.

jt45 writes:

Got out hustled the whole game. The fact that Schimmel was able to take it right at our post pretty much sums it up. The Lady Vols desperately
need a leader handling the ball next season.

Congrats to CHW and this year team. Next year might be the one to win it all.

keepitreal4vols writes:

Dang it, just wasn't our year. oh well, at least we don't have to face UConn again.

chipmurphy461 writes:

All things considered, good first season for Holly! Now we've gotta build on it.

oldbasshead writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Dang it, just wasn't our year. oh well, at least we don't have to face UConn again.

We should be playing California in New Orleans. Opportunity came knocking but no one was home from UT.

cdward31 writes:

Simmons,Meighan..... g 4-16 1 rebound, 1 assist. Nuf said.
Holly should have been in her face. Also should have been in Dee Kanter's face for the poor or lack of calls in 2nd half. Prediction: Cal routs Louisville if they have a coach who can adapt. IN NCAA its a player who carries or a coach who adjusts. We had neither. Holly will succeed if she realizes that here two starting gaurds can't play in a physical game.

Volinflan writes:

in response to r2d2:

TN lost to Louisville because of poor paint defense and lack of an offensive takeover player. I believe Ms. Russell will help with the paint defense. I am not sure who will develop into a offensive takeover player like Skylar Diggins of ND.

Vol Point guard - 27 minutes, 3 assists, 1 point, 2 rebounds, 2 steals

Notre Dame PG -24 min, 9 assists, 24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals

Louisville PG 24 min, 3 assists, 24 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal

And there you have it Ladies and Gentlemen!

jtlong12#378141 writes:

Great season Lady Vols!!! I like the fact that we never quit fighting or gave up like the last few seasons. With this team being young and that attitude I think that we will make it to the final four next year. I believe that this game really was lost at the free throw line. We were not making them like we usually do. For everyone saying that the problem was at the point guard spot. We need to remember that Ariel is a sophomore that she is going up against veteran point guards. I believe that she is capable of leading this team and with Carter back to help take some of the pressure off of her I think that she will be better next year. Good luck to Taber and Kamiko you will be missed.

oldbasshead writes:

in response to Volinflan:

Vol Point guard - 27 minutes, 3 assists, 1 point, 2 rebounds, 2 steals

Notre Dame PG -24 min, 9 assists, 24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals

Louisville PG 24 min, 3 assists, 24 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal

And there you have it Ladies and Gentlemen!

Very good observation. Better play from PG would have helped.

JimmyJoe writes:

What RUN? Had the opportunity of a lifetime... And didn't take advantage. Big time players step up in these situations.....the Lady Vols are a nice little team... And had a nice little season... They have a nice little coach... Nothing big time about this program anymore... This may be as close as we ever get to the Final Four again.

JimmyJoe writes:

We invented the woman's game and forgot how to play it.

allvol9 writes:

I really hurt for Spani and Williams....two great Vols who gave their all! Class acts for sure.

oldster writes:

I guess the team agreed with the opinion all its fans have had for most of the season, to-wit: the best they were capable of was the Elite 8.

oldster writes:

in response to richvol:

Lack of execution and offensive futility hurt this team against the best teams all season. Let's hope that we see progress next season. We need a real point guard and a true post. If we add those pieces we still must execute better. In spite of that this season was not a disapointment as the LadyVols reached further into the tourney than anyone anticipated at the beginning of the year.

I agree that the LVs need what you say, but they are really going to be hurting for an outside shooter. The best ones that are coming back are Simmons and Burdick (maybe Carter, but I have not seen enough of her to know how consistent she may be). Burdick has a beautiful shot, but lacks some range right now. Simmons has proven to be erratic and what one of the radio sports teams calls "a volume shooter." Without that threat, teams will close down the lane keeping a point out of the lane and the ball away from a post.

oldster writes:

in response to oldbasshead:

Why does Simmons play her worse in big games. In other the bigger the game the worse she plays.

She tries too hard and puts too much pressure on herself - particularly when things do not go right, right off the bat.

flatrock writes:

Nice season. Great leadership by Kamiko and Taber, who I believe should be co-MVPs. Would like to see both ladies go into coaching...

oldster writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Dang it, just wasn't our year. oh well, at least we don't have to face UConn again.

Do you think that maybe the LVs had their minds on how UConn dismantled UK and decided losing to Lousiville was less humiliating that what UConn would do to them? They certainly seemed distracted by something - depressed, too.

butch31 writes:

Although Meighan carried this team all season, she failed in the tournament. That's a huge difference between 1st team All-America & 3rd team. Cierra, Ariel and Bashaara never stepped up their game.I expect next year to be totally different. UT had an awesome season, but expected a lil more tho. I hope everyone elevates their game next season.

tturley#297658 writes:

Heck of a comeback by the LV's, scored enough to win, but oddly the defense gave up too much in the paint tonight, both by penetrating guards and by the Card's frontline on the offensive glass getting rebounds. How may layups did we give up-- at least 10? How many 2nd chance points did they score- at least another 10-15? That my friends was the difference. Also, if we hit 3 more FT's, it would have been tied up at 4mins left, and who knows, maybe the Cards would have tightened up then?

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So this appearance in the Regional Finals, after we were picked 4th in the conference but won the regular season SEC Championship, has conclusive proved that Holly Warlick will lead to the demise of our program? Really, I mean really, do you truly believe that. If the standard in equality of results is 8 National Championships and 1000 wins then you might be correct. No one could equal John Wooden. No one can equal Pat.

Dave Hart watched Bobby B. get pushed aside @ Free Shoes. I don't think he is great or even good, but he made the hard decision when all the good choices were gone.

Hope you are comforted by your privileged insight that Holly never had an opportunity as head coach at any other program vs. being part of a team that was the epitome of excellence.

So many other fallacies in your assertions. Go away until you have facts.

reg_mza#219136 writes:

I'm not going to mince words here. I'm going to miss Kamiko and Taber. I enjoyed watching them blossom into some really impressive players by their senior years. Frustrating at times with their game play, I'm still will miss them and sad they couldn't achieve more.

That being said, I hold no more punches for Meighan. This is the third tourney she has pretty much gotten overexcited, can't settle down, can't slow down, and then chokes accordingly.

Freshman year was understandable, she's a freshman. Sophomore year was better than her freshman year but the same pattern of choking because she's going to fast and can't settle down, then gets down on herself and gets into her own head, then just keeps jacking shot after shot. Junior year, she didn't show up for the Sweet 16 and didn't show up for the Elite 8 until the last 12 minutes.

If we are going to go any farther next year, we NEED clutch guard play and I just don't see it next year's group. Ariel still makes bad decisions, Meighan still makes bad decisions, Andraya is surgically repaired and we won't know what we're going to get. Jasmine Phillips may get lost on the bench. Incoming freshman Jordyn and Jannah are going to be freshman so mistakes will occur in such a high paced college environment. Jannah is surgically repaired so she may have to redshirt as keeping up with the pace may be tough.

In essence, guard play could make or break us next year. We'll be a beast in the front court, scary really, but the back court though experienced scares me unless they learn how to ball handle better and make better decisions with the basketball especially in the half court.

Anne37128 writes:

The overall season was great and I am proud of Holly and the Lady Vols. However the Lady Vols did not come to fight and to win the game against Louisville. It was most disappointing. I could not believe when Louisville got the ball in play on the Lady Vol end of the court with a player under their basket, no Lady Vol was there to guard the Louisville basket. After this happened twice, the lesson should have been learned to put a Lady Vol under their basket. Simmons should not have been in the game after it became obvious she could not shot. Louisville deserved to win. However, Holly and the Lady Vols did more this season than expected and were in the Elite 8. Truly amazing.

claiborneh writes:

Is it just me or do you sense that Connecticut is getting ready to put another tally on the scorecard in the Geno vs Summitt/Vols rivalry.

Teresa writes:

in response to RIGHTISBETTERTHANLEFT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How funny. The leading scorer in the SEC. Also named All American. She had 12 points in that frantic comeback so just shut up. In our many wins, does she get any credit then? Shooters are streaky.

Her year to date stats are better than Shoni of Louisville. She's on a roll. If she starts out cold Sunday, should their coach sit her?

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ha ha pot stirrer, of course you had to mention Dooley. I'm surprised you didn't refer to Coach Summitt as Trish this time like you actually know her.

martic#220796 writes:

in response to RIGHTISBETTERTHANLEFT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I can't believe some people. How many times has Meighan saved our butts? Look this Lville team was hot!!! You complain about our guards, post, defense but bottom line they beat a Baylor team with a 6'8 post, excellent guards and all, and yes Schimmel took it right at Griner too! Let's face reality here!!! We had a good season and the ladies didn't give up! I see why some players won't come play for us you people are nuts.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

When you dig yourself a hole that deep you need a ladder to climb out of it, and unfortunate our ladder was still in Oregon. This team exceeded any fans expectations and the future looks bright. I just feel bad for our seniors.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to claiborneh:

Is it just me or do you sense that Connecticut is getting ready to put another tally on the scorecard in the Geno vs Summitt/Vols rivalry.

Has anyone mentioned to you that Pat has retired and no longer coaches this team? That saga has long passed, get over it and deal with it.

ps11824 writes:

Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner, does it really feel right to belittle our coach? REALLY?

tobytyler writes:

When your best players can't handle the pressure and the big stage, this is what happens. I hope this new class that's coming in can handle the pressure of being a "lady vol". Simmons needs to grow up and lead this team next year because there is no reason she can't be one of the best players in the country. As far as over achieving this year, it's not over achieving when you have 8 high school all -americans on your team. They under achieved if anything.

SummittsCourt writes:

Despite all of the critics and bashers on here, which wouldn't be normal without them, I know I am proud of this team this year. They over achieved big time because of Coach Holly Warlick! She took a young, inexperienced, injury riddled team to the elite 8 and fell short of the final four in her first year of coaching.

They will only get better. The Lady Vols only lose Spani and Williams but are getting 3 great players coming in including the best player in the country in High School. The next 3-4 years UT should be making the final fours instead of falling short.

This year, UT ran into a buzz saw, next season UT will be the buzz saw!

Geofffourmyle writes:

Well, dang.

Walt

UT '81

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