Lady Vols win SEC, but Ariel Massengale, Isabelle Harrison injured

Massengale, Harrison suffer knee injuries

Wade Payne/Associated Press
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick celebrates after cutting down the net following the Lady Vols’ 82-72 win over Texas A&M on Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee won its 17th SEC regular-season title.

Photo by Wade Payne

Wade Payne/Associated Press Tennessee coach Holly Warlick celebrates after cutting down the net following the Lady Vols’ 82-72 win over Texas A&M on Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee won its 17th SEC regular-season title.

There was bountiful cause for Tennessee celebration Thursday night.

An 82-72 victory over Texas A&M clinched an SEC women’s basketball regular-season championship — the 17th in program history and the first under coach Holly Warlick.

Senior guard Kamiko Williams rose to the Senior Night occasion, scoring a career-high 18 points to lead five double-figure scorers.

Yet after the stepladder was ascended, a net was harvested and the team had finished the postgame festivities before the remnants of 12,213 at Thompson-Boling Arena, there were two lingering reasons for the Lady Vols to be concerned.

Point guard Ariel Massengale and center Isabelle Harrison suffered right knee injuries during the second half. Although both players actually took their turn on the ladder, Warlick offered no word afterward on their condition.

“It’s what we’ve been battling and dealing with all year,” Warlick said.

On the other hand, they weren’t overly burdened by expectations. The Lady Vols were picked to finish fourth in the preseason by the media and fifth by the coaches. They had to create a higher standard for themselves.

“They didn’t like being picked fifth so they had a little chip on their shoulder,” said Warlick, who became the second women’s coach in league history to win a regular-season championship in her rookie season. “So they went to work.”

They had a strong offensive performance to show for their effort against the Aggies.

Along with Williams, Meighan Simmons scored 17 points and Cierra Burdick had 15 for No. 8 Tennessee (23-5, 14-1 SEC). Bashaara Graves added 14 and Harrison scored 10 before departing with 1:52 left.

Overall, UT shot 57.1 percent from the floor in the second half and 48.5 percent for the game (33-for-68).

They needed virtually all of their points and efficiency since No. 13 Texas A&M (21-8, 11-4) also mustered four double-digit scorers and shot 47.8 percent (32-for-67). Guard Adrienne Pratcher, who’s from Memphis, scored a team-high 20 points.

“It was as good a basketball game as you’re going to see in the SEC,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said.

The Lady Vols began the game in chase mode. They gained traction when Burdick began gathering rebounds as if they were precious stones. She had nine in the first half and finished with a game-high 14. Nine were offensive rebounds. The 6-foot-2 sophomore forward was vital to UT’s two biggest offensive advantages: a 25-7 edge in bench scoring and an 18-10 advantage in second-chance points.

“Dang! C!” said Graves, who then shared her nickname with her teammate by saying: “She’s a beast. That says it all.”

After six ties and seven lead changes, UT overcame its biggest deficit (30-25) by scoring 12 of the first half’s final 14 points.

The Lady Vols led by as many as 12 points in the second half. But an Aggies rally, which cut the lead to 66-62, coincided with Massengale crumpling to the floor in pain. She was helped off with 7:44 left.

The lead was 78-72 when Harrison slipped down after leaping for a pass.

Warlick said some of the players were crying over the injuries. They might have shed tears but they didn’t lose their resolve.

“I think the fact that almost everyone has gone down to some sort of injury this year at some point has helped us become fighters,” senior Taber Spani said.

After the victory, Warlick seemed at a loss to describe the moment, referring to it as “surreal.”

Warlick mentioned former coach Pat Summitt, who was out of town and didn’t attend the game. Most of all, though, she paid tribute to her players.

They were cause for celebration.

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Comments » 94

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Great job in this game by the posts, seniors, and Holly.

The guards had a breakdown or two, but played well enough to keep the LV's going.

big concerns over those knees....it's just an epidemic in the women's game.

VolsInYourMouth writes:

Good job lady vols! VFL!

rogatl2002#222395 writes:

really great effort.hope the ariel and izzy are not seriously injured. still some really stupid turnovers but SO much hustle! this team is so fun to watch when they are flying up and down the floor.

SummittsCourt writes:

Regular season champions! This coming from the team picked to finish FIFTH!

Praying the injuries are not serious!

budd#207344 writes:

Congratulations to Coach Holly. Another championship for the Lady Vols.

jt45 writes:

Outstanding senior night for Kamiko and Im so glad to see Burdick have a big game. Cant say enough about how well this young team has come together. What a special group they have become.

Great job by coach Warlick.

Go Lady Vols!

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Burdick I have been on you all year. But tonight I appreciate you and thank you for giving your all for UT.

Freshman of the year: B. Graves
Player of the year: M. Simmons
Coach of the year: H. Warlick

BxVol writes:

Champions says it all! Congratulations Lady Vols, players, Coach Warlick and all her staff, and trainers and everyone associated with the program, and of course Coach Emeritus, the one and only Pat Summitt!

golfman1975 writes:

Very proud! Coach Warlick should be coach of the year.

vol98champ writes:

What a difference a year makes! Graves, Burdick, Simmons, Harrison, Williams, Spani, and Holly have all shown great improvement. Massingale has been steady. Holly has to be coach of the year. Please let the injuries be minor.

abnerPeabody writes:

Tell us again how Warlick can't coach and how bad of a hire she was. Come on. You know who you are.

jt45 writes:

Both Duke and Maryland lost tonight, the Lady Vols may be knocking on the door to a top five ranking if they can beat those Kittens. I hope Izzy is ok, she was great in the paint in the second half.

ACWLY writes:

THANKS Lady Vols ... this team's got GUTS!!!

vettefool writes:

I wish something could be done about all the serious knee injuries in ladies bb. I bet almost every major program has at least one lady sitting on the bench with a crutch at her side. there must be some exercise that could be done to strengthen the ladies knees. happens to men on occasion, but not to the degree that women have.

tovolny writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

jacksontnbob writes:

I can't stop thinking about the perserverence comment from KNS. Looks like dey may habe it rite dis timb.Uh-oh, mayde Adams be the edibor.....

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to vettefool:

I wish something could be done about all the serious knee injuries in ladies bb. I bet almost every major program has at least one lady sitting on the bench with a crutch at her side. there must be some exercise that could be done to strengthen the ladies knees. happens to men on occasion, but not to the degree that women have.

I'd like to see the shoe-makers and the NCAA take this head-on.

What I'd really like to see them use is the "nearly bare" shoe, where the coefficient of friction mimics the bare foot.

I can't say that too much "grip" causes the problems, but, damn, it's worth a try for a season.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

The injuries looked bad to me.

Massengale was in a rough spell, maybe a little tired or frustrated. Hers MIGHT just be a mild strain. Harrison got an awkward pass, really a bad play.

golfman1975 writes:

Did they seriously say this?

"The Lady Vols had too many turnovers and an insufficient amount of scoring from close range."

15 turnovers in an uptempo offense...not bad.
We outscored them in the paint...took it to the basket all night. That is why we shot so many free throws. Did they go to the game?

chaos001 writes:

Great game to slug it out in the end...especially for Kamiko.

Anyone at the game know why the boos started when Bone went down? She got away with some dirty stuff here and there. She's fond of throwing an elbow on a screen.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Did they seriously say this?

"The Lady Vols had too many turnovers and an insufficient amount of scoring from close range."

15 turnovers in an uptempo offense...not bad.
We outscored them in the paint...took it to the basket all night. That is why we shot so many free throws. Did they go to the game?

Johnlg will be quite proud, as his posts played great tonight.

I was very impressed with Harrison, Graves, and Burdick.

rb4346 writes:

Congrats Lady Vols. Hope the injuries are not that bad. Some people will have to eat their words after complaining about CHW geting job. Holly you did a great job, congrats to you.

RLL59 writes:

Congratulations, Lady Vols players and coaches. Can't do any better than 1st place. And I don't see how anyone but Holly gets named SEC coach of the year ...especially if they believed their own predictions.

jt45 writes:

I see ESPNW is NOT mentioning the lady Vols win in their headlines (again) but they certainly managed to squeeze in Kentuckys big win, Mizzous upset victory and Duke and Maryland,s losses easy enough.

plainspeaker1 writes:

in response to NEVERBECONSERVATIVEWITHKNS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why Pat was not there is really none of your or my business!! That amazing lady is battling a debiltating disease with more moxy than anyone I have ever seen. Pat was there in every way in the the choices she made in the coaching staff SHE put together and the players SHE recruited. Pat Summitt is and always will be the face of women's basketball. Here's a thought-Maybe she wanted this night to be Holly's and knew her presence would be a distraction. As I said before her reasons are hers and NONE of anyone else's business but hers!!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

People will always complain about something, even when we win. This was a very huge game, and therefore it seems it might have been wise to put it on national t.v. instead of ESPN 3.........rather than ESPN carrying the Vandy game.

Anyway, hope the injuries aren't as serious as they looked on the floor last night. Harrison was able to walk off with some help, and both of them were able to go up the ladder to.............. once again, cut down the net. ( That's for the anti-Holly critics. )

VOLsince68 writes:

Great job Lady Vols!!!

Keep the chip on your shoulders and you'll go far. Looking forward to the tourney.

manoffewwords writes:

CHW was always the BEST choice to replace Pat.
Her heart is as ORANCE as can be.
No ? COY !

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Once again people come on here to express negativity even with a great win such as this. If Pat could have been there she would have. But my guess and its just what I think , being thr classy woman she is, she probably felt this should be Coach Hollys moment and hers alone. Not Pat and Holly but just Holly. But like I said Pat has the right to live her life . This night belong to CHW and the lady Vols

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

Excellent good job of coaching when you consider where this team was projected to finish.

kazoo writes:

Great to win the SEC title--Warlick has done a nice job--but I can't remember when UT and its fans got SO excited about winning the SEC. That's almost been automatic for 20+ years--the least of our ambitions. But as the program's fortunes have slipped, suddenly it's a bigger deal; ok, maybe it's a step back to the top. As for being picked 4th in the conference, did anybody actually believe that? Are there three teams in the conference that have more talent than UT, which has a bench full of AAs? Is there one? Nobody takes projections seriously. I want to see this team get to the Final Four--THAT is the UT standard.

ps11824 writes:

[[[ tonyvick#213307 writes:
Burdick I have been on you all year. But tonight I appreciate you and thank you for giving your all for UT.

Freshman of the year: B. Graves
Player of the year: M. Simmons
Coach of the year: H. Warlick ]]]

I agree with all that, tony. I have to say I did not doubt Holly, but I would not have predicted the regular season #1 thing.

emailnodata, well said. The Lady Vols showed a renewed sense of perseverance last night IMO. The injuries are bothersome, hopefully not too serious. We have to get at it seriously come Sunday.

I like the "precious stones" comment. Whatever possession it is that is most valuable to a young woman; whether their iPhone, their handbag or their wardrobe, I wish they would value the basketball as much while they are lady Vols.

We saw more of that last night. Still some unforced turnovers, but the determination of Burdick to clean those boards with authority was exciting.

martinvol34 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Regular season champions! This coming from the team picked to finish FIFTH!

Praying the injuries are not serious!

Was the injury to Isabelle on the same knee or a different one?

jakethevolguy writes:

Not sure about Ariel's injury but, Izzie's appeared to be a hyperextension. Anyway, I hope that's all it was. Great job LVs and congratulations. Now,go get those lady kittens.

madrigal writes:

in response to emailnodata:

I'd like to see the shoe-makers and the NCAA take this head-on.

What I'd really like to see them use is the "nearly bare" shoe, where the coefficient of friction mimics the bare foot.

I can't say that too much "grip" causes the problems, but, damn, it's worth a try for a season.

Probably the shoes are not the problem, It may have something to do with the way women's hips and knees are constructed as opposed to men's. There is a difference, check out an anatomy book or online site. If you notice, a lot of the injuries occur when the player lands a bit awkwardly. Also the "nearly bare" shoe would probably cause more problems because there is so much jumping in basketball and the players need the cushioning of a high-tech basketball shoe.

tovolny writes:

in response to tovolny:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The videos were not up when I submitted my post. Somehow they got squeezed in the middle.
The Gazette still did a better job.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Burdick does what a lot of players don't but should learn on our team. Anticipate a miss. Many times she got the rebound from errant shots which made for easy putbacks for her. Simmons also follows her shot and gets her own rebounds most times. It's a good habit to have and not just standing around waiting on who will get the ball.
We did a pretty good job in containing Ms Bone but I was really surprised on how well the other players played for A&M played. But in the end we had 5 players in Double figures and Spani had 8 . Very good and well rounded team. We have a chance to move up to 7 or 6 with Duke and PSU losing. Beat the Cats!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to jacksontnbob:

I can't stop thinking about the perserverence comment from KNS. Looks like dey may habe it rite dis timb.Uh-oh, mayde Adams be the edibor.....

That particular piece was from an AP writer. KNS doesn't seem to edit their OWN pieces that much, so it wasn't likely they would edit an AP piece.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

I'd like to see the shoe-makers and the NCAA take this head-on.

What I'd really like to see them use is the "nearly bare" shoe, where the coefficient of friction mimics the bare foot.

I can't say that too much "grip" causes the problems, but, damn, it's worth a try for a season.

No question this is a situation that requires as much research as the shoe companies and the basketball organizations can muster. It ruins the quality of the women's game and the careers of too many fine young women.

RLL59 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Burdick does what a lot of players don't but should learn on our team. Anticipate a miss. Many times she got the rebound from errant shots which made for easy putbacks for her. Simmons also follows her shot and gets her own rebounds most times. It's a good habit to have and not just standing around waiting on who will get the ball.
We did a pretty good job in containing Ms Bone but I was really surprised on how well the other players played for A&M played. But in the end we had 5 players in Double figures and Spani had 8 . Very good and well rounded team. We have a chance to move up to 7 or 6 with Duke and PSU losing. Beat the Cats!

Unfortunately, being able to instantly analyze the projection of the shot, particularly other players' shots, and get into the best position for the rebound is innate and not learned. The good rebounders, regardless of their size, all have it. Meighan, Kamiko and Cierra all possess it....along with excellent hands.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Johnlg will be quite proud, as his posts played great tonight.

I was very impressed with Harrison, Graves, and Burdick.

I would like to claim them, but they are the LVs' posts and in a sense belong to all LV fans. I was very happy for the gals, though; they played really well in a big game. Burdick showed an uncanny knack for finding and securing the ball. REALLY hope Izzy and Ariel are OK. I wouldn't kick if they were held out of the UK game. I'm sure that's a game that the team and fans would LOVE to win, but it isn't worth risking their availability for the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Great job this year. Looking forward to the tourney.

DICK_MASTERSON_N_TENN (Inactive) writes:

Celebrating SEC titles instead of NC's. Program on the decline.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

SEC

Has a nice ring to it.

Congrats, LVs

johnlg00 writes:

in response to madrigal:

Probably the shoes are not the problem, It may have something to do with the way women's hips and knees are constructed as opposed to men's. There is a difference, check out an anatomy book or online site. If you notice, a lot of the injuries occur when the player lands a bit awkwardly. Also the "nearly bare" shoe would probably cause more problems because there is so much jumping in basketball and the players need the cushioning of a high-tech basketball shoe.

I have read that, too. If that is the WHOLE problem, shoes may not have that much to do with it. Still, no stone can be left unturned in the search for a cure to this disease that plagues women's basketball. I've noticed that there seems to be a lot of slipping and sliding in the men's game this year, too. Some of it is no doubt due to the decals you see on so many of the floors these days, but some of it may come from shoes designed perhaps more for style and marketability than for sheer athletic performance.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to DICK_MASTERSON_N_TENN:

Celebrating SEC titles instead of NC's. Program on the decline.

The Dumbest comment of the week and barely worth a response.

blackandblue writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

Tell us again how Warlick can't coach and how bad of a hire she was. Come on. You know who you are.

The development of the players is obvious. Spani and Williams had their best years as seniors. Harrison and Burdick improved greatly from their freshman seasons. Even Simmons more often recognizes the difference between a good shot and a "what was that?", and occasionally remembers what an assist is. The entire team plays well together and is fun to watch. Hard to lose players at this time of year, but Holly rocks. Let's roll!!!

AllforTenn writes:

in response to kazoo:

Great to win the SEC title--Warlick has done a nice job--but I can't remember when UT and its fans got SO excited about winning the SEC. That's almost been automatic for 20+ years--the least of our ambitions. But as the program's fortunes have slipped, suddenly it's a bigger deal; ok, maybe it's a step back to the top. As for being picked 4th in the conference, did anybody actually believe that? Are there three teams in the conference that have more talent than UT, which has a bench full of AAs? Is there one? Nobody takes projections seriously. I want to see this team get to the Final Four--THAT is the UT standard.

Part of the reason for joy is that the team lost 5 starters from last year's tournament team, lost Pat Summitt as head coach, had significant injuries and strong competition from Kentucky and A&M. This team achieved!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

Burdick does what a lot of players don't but should learn on our team. Anticipate a miss. Many times she got the rebound from errant shots which made for easy putbacks for her. Simmons also follows her shot and gets her own rebounds most times. It's a good habit to have and not just standing around waiting on who will get the ball.
We did a pretty good job in containing Ms Bone but I was really surprised on how well the other players played for A&M played. But in the end we had 5 players in Double figures and Spani had 8 . Very good and well rounded team. We have a chance to move up to 7 or 6 with Duke and PSU losing. Beat the Cats!

Excellent point! When pros evaluate prospects, one thing they look at is "rebounding range". That refers to a player's ability to go GET the ball rather than just wait until it comes to them. As you say, Burdick has an ability to anticipate where the ball is likely to come down and goes to that spot before it gets there. Any player can learn to do this. When I was a young player, when the team was doing its pre-game shootarounds, I practiced watching the ball in the air, gauging the arc, and trying to anticipate where the ball would come down, and then moving to that spot. My goal was to let no ball I was watching hit the floor. That made me a much better rebounder than my size or leaping ability could account for. Perhaps some people have a natural ability to do that, but anybody can benefit from WORKING at it.

tomwebster writes:

Pat Summitt can never be replaced in our hearts or as our coach. Holly has won a spot of her own in our hearts and as our coach. Fantastic job Holly!!!!

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