Lady Vols meet Warlick's challenge to compete in close of LSU game

Warlick gets just enough in frantic ending

Tennessee's Meighan Simmons guards LSU's Danielle Ballard on Thursday in Baton Rouge, La.

Photo by Catherine Threlkeld

Tennessee's Meighan Simmons guards LSU's Danielle Ballard on Thursday in Baton Rouge, La.

Holly Warlick on Lady Vols' dramatic win at LSU.

Rather than concentrate solely on strategy, Tennessee's Holly Warlick asked the Lady Vols two questions before Thursday night's game at LSU.

What do you have in you?

How are you going to compete?

"I sound like a broken record," she said, "but that's all we talked about before the game."

Her inquiries reflected a prevailing theme of her first season as the Tennessee women's basketball coach. No matter how repetitive, they were relevant after Sunday's 80-63 upset loss at Missouri.

The Lady Vols replied with an effort that was determined and daring. They persevered through 14 lead changes to beat the Lady Tigers 64-62, overcoming a 62-59 deficit inside the final 31 seconds.

"I was thinking we still had time on our clock to get where we wanted and to win the game or at least go into overtime," said UT's Bashaara Graves, who scored UT's final two baskets.

After LSU's Bianca Lutley missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity, Tennessee's time management began with forgoing a 3-point attempt. Instead, point guard Ariel Massengale got the ball to Graves for a layup with 15 seconds left.

Theresa Plaisance, who led LSU with 20 points, repeated Lutley's free throw miss to give UT its chance. Cierra Burdick's free throw with seven seconds left tied the score.

Then No. 12 Tennessee (18-5, 9-1 SEC) literally took its chance, pressuring the Lady Tigers' inbounds play. Meighan Simmons, who led UT with 18 points, created a turnover by deflecting the ball to Graves.

"We wanted to attack," Warlick said. "... We wanted to go for the ball. We knew we had the jump ball (arrow)."

Plaisance blocked Graves' first attempt at a winner, leaving the freshman forward sprawled on the floor. Her second attempt was contested but crept over the rim with a second left.

"Holly said to make this game be proof that Missouri was a fluke," Burdick said. "We wanted to come out and just do the best we could. We still have a lot to work on and a lot of improvement to make. I think this is a great statement game to let everyone know that Tennessee isn't going to quit."

The hard-earned victory also said that Tennessee has issues on defense and rebounding leading into Sunday's game against Ole Miss at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Lady Vols couldn't prevent LSU from shooting 59.3 percent (16 for 27) from the floor in the second half. So they shot 60 percent (15 for 25). The Lady Tigers' 15-7 edge in second-chance points could have been pivotal.

Warlick conceded that the victory was "a little bittersweet," considering her friend and former colleague Nikki Caldwell coaches LSU.

"I love her like a sister," Warlick said. "I recruited her. I coached her. I got the opportunity to work with her. It's a little difficult, but when you cross that line, we compete."

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Comments » 11

oldbasshead writes:

The LV's struggle on defense because they are a little slow and their inside players need to get stronger.

cdtnladyvols931#663910 writes:

Yes! The inside players! or whoever gets a rebound needs to be stronger with the ball! Proud of the Heart & Desire in a close game!!!!! Taber Please come out of your shooting slump!!!!!

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Taber how is it that Burdick gets somewhat well and you fall off? It's confidence, when you have it you can be the best player on the floor. Don't watch them compete. Compete! Burdick I've been a little harsh on you but as you heal I see you are getting better. Thanks.

volfan2002 writes:

I agree we competed but we also made enough mental errors to lose this game by 10 points. I guess working as hard as we did saved us this time. We need to get the turnovers down and quit telegraphing passes. I like this team they do compete now they just have to play more intelligent basketball.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volfan2002:

I agree we competed but we also made enough mental errors to lose this game by 10 points. I guess working as hard as we did saved us this time. We need to get the turnovers down and quit telegraphing passes. I like this team they do compete now they just have to play more intelligent basketball.

In general, I prefer a team that will fight you even when they aren't playing well to one that looks good when things are going their way but folds in the face of adversity. Despite occasional lapses, this is the one thing that distinguishes this year's team from some of those in the recent past. Still, I agree with everybody that they just must take better care of the ball and toughen up on defense if they are to make any kind of run. It doesn't look right now as though Izzy will be back this year, so it is up to the rest of them to buckle down and take better care of their business.

ModelMaker writes:

in response to volfan2002:

I agree we competed but we also made enough mental errors to lose this game by 10 points. I guess working as hard as we did saved us this time. We need to get the turnovers down and quit telegraphing passes. I like this team they do compete now they just have to play more intelligent basketball.

I agree with your post. I think a lot of their mistakes are coming from inexperience; thats why you win with juniors and seniors. I see some good stuff in these kids. I was very proud of the way they came back and won the LSU game. It was a very important win and it could be a real confidence builder going down the home stretch. When the game was on the line I thought Ariel made a very smart pass to Graves underneath to tie the game; she could have shot it herself. I think if this team can cut down their mental mistakes they could do some fun things.

kazoo writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I agree with your post. I think a lot of their mistakes are coming from inexperience; thats why you win with juniors and seniors. I see some good stuff in these kids. I was very proud of the way they came back and won the LSU game. It was a very important win and it could be a real confidence builder going down the home stretch. When the game was on the line I thought Ariel made a very smart pass to Graves underneath to tie the game; she could have shot it herself. I think if this team can cut down their mental mistakes they could do some fun things.

Stop with the "inexperience" argument. That's a cheap excuse. Spani, Simmons, Massengale, Burdick, Williams: All experienced, some of them very experienced. That's five of the 7 players who played against LSU. Defense is a problem with this team--the guards don't play good defense, and we don't have enough size inside to stop people. The defense in the Notre Dame game was pathetic. We've got talent, but have been handicapped by injuries, mediocre half-court offense and mediocre defense. We're good enough to beat everybody but the really good teams, basically.

AHOUSE writes:

Why does this site not keep up to date with the schedules scores. It is always two scores behind both men and women..

ModelMaker writes:

in response to kazoo:

Stop with the "inexperience" argument. That's a cheap excuse. Spani, Simmons, Massengale, Burdick, Williams: All experienced, some of them very experienced. That's five of the 7 players who played against LSU. Defense is a problem with this team--the guards don't play good defense, and we don't have enough size inside to stop people. The defense in the Notre Dame game was pathetic. We've got talent, but have been handicapped by injuries, mediocre half-court offense and mediocre defense. We're good enough to beat everybody but the really good teams, basically.

I agree with you about the defense. But I think we need more experience also. I think it take's at least two full years experience of college ball for a player to reach his/her potential. Too say anything less is demeaning the sport. Before Izzy got injured we started three sophmores, a freshmen and one junior. Simmons is a great player when she play's withen herself. Problem is she hasn't learned to do that yet. Maybe playing Kamiko more, or even starting her would have made people sit up and take notice. Any highly skilled job a person does is going to take at least a few years to reach their potential.

r2d2 writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I agree with you about the defense. But I think we need more experience also. I think it take's at least two full years experience of college ball for a player to reach his/her potential. Too say anything less is demeaning the sport. Before Izzy got injured we started three sophmores, a freshmen and one junior. Simmons is a great player when she play's withen herself. Problem is she hasn't learned to do that yet. Maybe playing Kamiko more, or even starting her would have made people sit up and take notice. Any highly skilled job a person does is going to take at least a few years to reach their potential.

"I agree with you about the defense. But I think we need more experience also. I think it take's at least two full years experience of college ball for a player to reach his/her potential." I was almost ready to disagree with your comment until I checked UCONN's roster. They are a very good defensive team and they have 2 seniors, 2 juniors and 1 sophomore in their starting lineup.

Theo writes:

in response to r2d2:

"I agree with you about the defense. But I think we need more experience also. I think it take's at least two full years experience of college ball for a player to reach his/her potential." I was almost ready to disagree with your comment until I checked UCONN's roster. They are a very good defensive team and they have 2 seniors, 2 juniors and 1 sophomore in their starting lineup.

Probably too early to tell but I think JJ and Andraya could both be shut down with some experience.
Does anyone else remember, the year before Semeka Randal, Tamika Catchings got on campus? It seems to me that Lady Vols defense wasn't great and Semeka Randal called Pat to ask if the next year she could press the ball up the court. I know she was a great defensive player but I can't remember whether she was always a great defender or she developed into one. 98 will probably remember. Regardless you need kids who take pride in being a stopper. I think we could have a couple of those.

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