Free throws key, but nothing came easy in Lady Vols' OT win over Florida

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves (12) goes for two points with Florida center Vicky McIntyre (34) and Florida forward Christin Mercer (25) try to block the shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013.  (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

Photo by AP Photo/Phil Sandlin

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves (12) goes for two points with Florida center Vicky McIntyre (34) and Florida forward Christin Mercer (25) try to block the shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Two Lady Vols stepped to the free throw line Sunday afternoon and did enough for Tennessee to sidestep an upset.

UT’s salvation was Florida’s lament after the Lady Vols’ 78-75 SEC women’s basketball overtime victory.

With the noise from 2,609 screaming fans at the O’Connell Center ringing in her ears, UT’s Bashaara Graves hit the second of two free throws with 13 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 70.

In the extra session, Kamiko Williams hit one of two attempts with 24.3 seconds remaining.

Graves, who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, closed out the scoring with two more with 8.4 seconds left.

Florida’s Kayla Lewis, a 31.3 percent shooter from long range, missed a 3-pointer with a second left.

“I keep saying she’s our workhorse,” UT coach Holly Warlick said of Graves. “She hit big free throws at the end. She hit tough free throws.”

Since Williams’ free throw turned out to be the game-winner, Florida coach Amanda Butler second-guessed herself for intentionally fouling the senior guard.

“It was one of those calculated risk things,” Butler said. “It was a bad decision, even though she only hit one.”

“… If I had to do it over again, I would’ve trusted our defense.”

Instead, the Gators were left to rely on their free-throw shooting. Christin Mercer missed two with 8.9 seconds left in overtime, the final two attempts of Florida’s 46.7 percent free throw shooting (6 for 13).

The relative serenity of the foul line belied the ferocity of the game.

Meighan Simmons scored a game-high 27 points for No. 9 Tennessee (13-3, 4-0 SEC). Along with Graves, three other Lady Vols scored in double figures. Ariel Massengale scored 12 and Isabelle Harrison had 10.

“We played Tennessee basketball,” Simmons said. “We continued to fight.”

Well, she had the last part right.

The Lady Vols and Gators both wore “We Back Pat” warm-up shirts to begin the SEC’s week-long initiative to bring awareness to Tennessee head coach emeritus Pat Summitt’s foundation, which raises funds to fight Alzheimer’s disease.

The Lady Vols’ support of Summitt’s basketball values, not to mention Warlick’s, wasn’t always as apparent. Florida (13-5, 2-2) had a lot to do with it.

Guard Jaterra Bonds led three double-figure scorers with 18 points. Leading scorer and rebounder Jennifer George left late in the first half after re-injuring her right shoulder, but the Gators still outrebounded UT, 48-41.

“We’re not a one-woman team,” Butler said. “Although Jennifer is one of the best players in the league, I think we showed our balance is legit.”

Simmons’ 17 first-half points helped cover for the absence of center Isabelle Harrison, who played just one minute in the first half after picking up two early fouls.

“It’s tough,” Warlick said. “It puts us in a really difficult position when Izzy is out.”

The scoring covered for UT’s shaky defense until the second half. After trailing by as many as nine points, the Gators rallied and regained the lead 66-64 on Bonds’ jumper with 4:27 left.

After UT rallied, Florida struck back to lead 70-69 on freshman January Miller’s jumper with 29 seconds left.

Graves had left the game briefly with 1:53 left after Williams’ shoulder collided with Graves’ neck during a loose-ball scramble, leaving the freshman forward sprawled on the floor.

Graves’ tying free throw resulted from a foul on a driving shot attempt against 6-foot-7 Vicki McIntyre.

“I actually wanted that layup a little more than I wanted the free throw,” Graves said. “I was confident in the second one.”

Williams stopped a driving attempt by Bonds to force overtime. The Lady Vols shot just 2 for 6 in overtime, but held Florida to 2 for 9.

“Had it not been for our D and getting stops when we needed to,” Massengale said, “we would’ve lost that basketball game.”

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

Tennessee hadn't won a game this close since a 61-58 victory at Ole Miss on Feb. 11, 2010.

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Comments » 66

underthehill writes:

Hard fought OT win on the road..good experience for the young talented Lady Vols..the Gators seemed to be well coached and had a lot of young talent...I loved the way UT finished with Kamiko stepping up late..

volfan2002 writes:

This is the type win you must have to win the SEC Championship. We have won at two tough places South Carolina and Florida this puts us in great shape in the SEC race.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Always fun to beat Florida!

Go Lady Vols!!!!

voloffaith writes:

With better free throw shooting could have won in regulation.Good to have a tough win after toasting opponents lately. Also big to do so on the road..especially in chomper land..

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Thank God somebody still wins.

ps11824 writes:

Izzy MUST get smarter, more skilled with her defense and her overall paint play. I don't know what nor how and I'm not suggesting I do, but she is going to be roughed up. We need her on the court, not sitting on the sideline with foul trouble.

she must find a way to avoid early foul trouble and still play with the intensity such as she's bringing to the court already.

Glory had a terrible time with quick fouls, at times, not the smartest moves was GJ's demon. She did overcome much of that by her senior season. Thing is, we need IH right now as we are a tad shy of a full roster.

8inarow writes:

in response to jandjhome#228397:

Thank God somebody still wins.

That is what Slive said too! He said that if it weren't for the girls sports at UT, he is not sure why the Vols were still in the SEC!

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Graves you are truly a "beast" and you play like you have played in the SEC before. Izzy this is your team you are going to have to play smarter they need you on the floor. JJ you seemed to try and do to much today. Trust me you don't have to force the game will come to you. You guys played with that old fire the Lady Vols use to have. Joyful tears.

Millisa writes:

Glad We Won Got to get better and Keep Working and Playing hard Go Lady Vols :) :):)

butch31 writes:

Tournament feeling type of game...this was a hard fought game. If we can beat Florida at their place in a hostile environment, we can beat anyone. Florida was on their *A* game today. Meighan, Bashaara, Taber, amd Ariel came ready to play. Isabelle and Kamiko woke up in the 2nd half LOL...Jasmine Jones never woke up...We need to be ready for games at Auburn, Vanderbilt, and home game against Notre Dame looming.

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Hard fought OT win on the road..good experience for the young talented Lady Vols..the Gators seemed to be well coached and had a lot of young talent...I loved the way UT finished with Kamiko stepping up late..

She played 21 min scored 2 points by shooting 2 for 4 from the line not really stepping up...

switcher76 writes:

Girls are gonna have to play a little smarter; especially Izzie. Kentucky will eat their lunch if they don't. I'm glad they pulled the win out today. GBO!

SummittsCourt writes:

A great win. Why? After playing so well just a couple of days ago and then going on the road to a hostile environment to play a team that desperately wants to beat you is hard to do for a group of 18-19 year olds.

This was a gutty, SEC road win that they can learn from and know that when they are in this type of game they can win.

Remember, the last time the Lady Vols were as young as this team is, they lost these games.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to switcher76:

Girls are gonna have to play a little smarter; especially Izzie. Kentucky will eat their lunch if they don't. I'm glad they pulled the win out today. GBO!

Relax dude, you're not perfect either. And KU will not beat the Lady Vols this year.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

She played 21 min scored 2 points by shooting 2 for 4 from the line not really stepping up...

Stepping up is not always in the stats column, she did step up her defense and made some key plays.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to butch31:

Tournament feeling type of game...this was a hard fought game. If we can beat Florida at their place in a hostile environment, we can beat anyone. Florida was on their *A* game today. Meighan, Bashaara, Taber, amd Ariel came ready to play. Isabelle and Kamiko woke up in the 2nd half LOL...Jasmine Jones never woke up...We need to be ready for games at Auburn, Vanderbilt, and home game against Notre Dame looming.

This was a slugfest for sure. Very physical game - this win will only help to build confidence for the future. This is still a very young team with 2 key players injured.

jt45 writes:

in response to ps11824:

Izzy MUST get smarter, more skilled with her defense and her overall paint play. I don't know what nor how and I'm not suggesting I do, but she is going to be roughed up. We need her on the court, not sitting on the sideline with foul trouble.

she must find a way to avoid early foul trouble and still play with the intensity such as she's bringing to the court already.

Glory had a terrible time with quick fouls, at times, not the smartest moves was GJ's demon. She did overcome much of that by her senior season. Thing is, we need IH right now as we are a tad shy of a full roster.

I agree, I couldnt watch the game because I dont have ESPNU but listening to the game it sounded like she wasnt hitting many shots.(alot like last year). I knew Florida would be tough and think they are way underated this year. They have played both the LVs and UK down to the buzzer.At any rate this was the type of tough physical play that will help them in close games.
Good job by Simmons on offense today.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to ps11824:

Izzy MUST get smarter, more skilled with her defense and her overall paint play. I don't know what nor how and I'm not suggesting I do, but she is going to be roughed up. We need her on the court, not sitting on the sideline with foul trouble.

she must find a way to avoid early foul trouble and still play with the intensity such as she's bringing to the court already.

Glory had a terrible time with quick fouls, at times, not the smartest moves was GJ's demon. She did overcome much of that by her senior season. Thing is, we need IH right now as we are a tad shy of a full roster.

Nice coaching skills there sport. Relax you do know she is only 19 don't you.

ModelMaker writes:

I was sure glad they got out of there with a win. Florida has a good team; especially on their home court. Simmons really stepped up big time. She is playing much better than she did last year. Sure was glad that Graves was on our team. I just can't say enough about that women. Graves is big time. Izzy needs to start playing smart. She isn't doing her team any good sitting on the bench. We need her in there.

lstbodeanvol writes:

ignore the trolls ladies a win on the road is always big in the SEC.....GO LADY VOLS !!!!!!

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You say so much and know so little.

Just stay on the ranch and herd the cattle. Can you handle that?

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

Competitive, gritty performance by both teams. Not as sweet as a W in the Swamp would be, but given the current state of affairs in UT athletics, I'm thrilled with a W whenever & wherever it happens. Really thought the ladies were going to pull away there when they went up by 8 or 9, but some poor shot selections let Fla back in. I have to admit, however, that I did not have the same sense of hopelessness that I experience whenever the men find themselves in a similar situation down the stretch. The put back and free throw misses were uncharacteristic of the team I have watched in the last few games, but winning seems to beget winning. Continue to be impressed with Simmons, particularly her speed to the basket. But that easy layup she missed reminded me of the blown 2 handed missed dunk in the Memphis game. Still, it's a joy to watch these ladies as they remind me of some of the championship teams of days gone by, especially with their uptempo style of play. Kudos to the coaching staff for the terrific conditioning of the team particularly in light of the injuries. Potential bumps in the road ahead I believe are both ND & Ky. I'm sure the ladies are especially grateful for this W because Fla had it in their grasp and just couldn't close it out. Thanks, LVols, for giving the Volnation some much needed sunshine on such a dreary day.

VOLindiana writes:

Thought our defense was horrible. Anytime you allow a team to score more than 70 thats bad defense. Offense looked great. Jones had some athletic moves on o but just forced it. She's a fresh and it's expected. Coaches will teach. Didn't see a desire for defense except Williams in the LATE 2nd half... Lucky we survived. Florida had there way with us offensively. Underrated in sec is nice to see though

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

A great road win and they didn't shoot the ball well..Guts and a will to win earned the LV's a victory.

rickangstadt#239402 writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

USF took #2 Notre Dame who beat UConn (YES!!) in to OT, so Lady Vols should be proud that they hung tough. I have been at several of the UT/FL games in Gainesville and the environment is very hostile and they always give UT a good game. Remember, teams always bring their "A' game against UT.

underthehill writes:

in response to jt45:

I agree, I couldnt watch the game because I dont have ESPNU but listening to the game it sounded like she wasnt hitting many shots.(alot like last year). I knew Florida would be tough and think they are way underated this year. They have played both the LVs and UK down to the buzzer.At any rate this was the type of tough physical play that will help them in close games.
Good job by Simmons on offense today.

I don't have ESPNU but was able to watch on ESPN3 on my computer..went to utsports.com and clicked on watch live..I also watched part of the UK-Fla game..Florida is much improved and has some young talent that played very well against the Vols..outstanding freshman point guard and a very athletic freshman forward who created her shots very well..the game was very physical with neither team backing down..Kamiko stepped up big at the end..I thought Holly should have got her in sooner..the SEC looks like it may be on the way to regaining some overall strength..

r2d2 writes:

I enjoyed the game but I am puzzled why Holly does not play Nia Moore. I guess she not do well in practice. Izzy has got to become smarter with fouls. The LVs cannot win without her in the lineup. Jasmine Jones need to slow down on offense and make quality shots.

oldster writes:

This team is likely going to have better results - and is more fun to watch - than the last three for one reason - intensity. This group of ladies WANT to win. This combined with the skill they have makes a good team, potentially a great one.

vol98champ writes:

Don't know when I have seen more bodies on the floor. Fla is a combination of football(side body blocks) and boxing(right crosses). I'll get crucified for this, but Fla's coach looks evil.

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

Glad we won but thought the overall defensive effort was lacking. Somewhere, I coulda swore I heard Coach Pat yelling DEFENSE!!!

Can't help but wonder why we don't play to our strength (speed) on offense. It seems we do MUCH better when we run the floor. Up-tempo works well for this team but we didn't seem to go up-tempo as often as we could have. Plus, I don't think the Gators (or many others) could keep up with our pace.

Graves played a very solid game and her injury was scary. Glad she seems to be OK.

Still, the thing that jumps out at me is depth. Somewhere, sometime...it'll be an issue. Wish we weren't so short-handed.

Volinflan writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

She played 21 min scored 2 points by shooting 2 for 4 from the line not really stepping up...

Yep, but at the end her defense was huge. When ole Bond starting scoring at will Kamiko was sent in to shut her down.

Volinflan writes:

in response to lstbodeanvol:

ignore the trolls ladies a win on the road is always big in the SEC.....GO LADY VOLS !!!!!!

Yea, I think the "Elementary" One is back in disguise.

AllforTenn writes:

"The relatively serenity..."
What?

AllforTenn writes:

in response to rickangstadt#239402:

USF took #2 Notre Dame who beat UConn (YES!!) in to OT, so Lady Vols should be proud that they hung tough. I have been at several of the UT/FL games in Gainesville and the environment is very hostile and they always give UT a good game. Remember, teams always bring their "A' game against UT.

Perhaps you should stick to cattle. You certainly are opinionated without sufficient knowledge to be criticizing the coach. Overall a foolish assessment.

volguy#211935 writes:

My wife, our 17-year-old, and I went to the game, as we live near Orlando (behind enemy lines). It was a little too close for my comfort. When we went up 51-42 in the second half, I thought we would put some distance between us and Florida, but we couldn't. We didn't shoot well and Florida did. Part of it was letting the ball get down on the low block and they had relatively easy shots from there. Bottom line is we hit the FT late and they didn't and that was the difference. It was a SEC road win against a decent team on a day when we didn't play our best. Just a note: Out of the 2,609 in attendance, I am thinking about 800-900 were Big Orange fans! #GBO #VFL

jt45 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I don't have ESPNU but was able to watch on ESPN3 on my computer..went to utsports.com and clicked on watch live..I also watched part of the UK-Fla game..Florida is much improved and has some young talent that played very well against the Vols..outstanding freshman point guard and a very athletic freshman forward who created her shots very well..the game was very physical with neither team backing down..Kamiko stepped up big at the end..I thought Holly should have got her in sooner..the SEC looks like it may be on the way to regaining some overall strength..

Seems like anything I can get local is always blacked out on ESPN3 when it involves UT sports wich is local for me. I did not check ESPN3 today though.Im not sure my nerves could have handled it anyway, the radio was bad enough.

wigmeister writes:

The ladies continue to make progress. Nothing is ever perfect. Keep it rolling ladies. Proud of ya!

jt45 writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So how many usernames do you have now ? Get some help !

madrigal writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

You say so much and know so little.

Just stay on the ranch and herd the cattle. Can you handle that?

Sounds like the Big Griper is back with another nom-de-keyboard. Next I suppose he'll claim that he has Multiple Personality Disorder. Nah, can't be, all his personalities are the same--hateful. Just stuff him back down his troll hole.

Hey, it was a W. That's all that counts. Sometimes you just win ugly, but it's still a win.

Snapshot writes:

A win over fla. in any sport, anytime, at anywhere is great. Nice win ladies.

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

Yes we need Izzy on the floor, but just like Glory the officials pick on Izzy. The first foul was a charge and the defender was deep in the half-circle under the basket. He just flat missed the call and even hesitated when he gave the charge signal. Glory Johnson never got a favorable call during her entire career at UT.Sometimes you can notice a player get the ball and just think to themselves that "I have to shoot it". If we could learn to pass it back out the same girl could get it right back and have an even better chance to shoot it. Some great passes today, not many, but some. If we want to be a really good team we need to be willing to make those 6 to 8 passes when we are not pushing it. Yes I said WE because I have followed this team since Pat Summit first took the job. Even refereed a few of her early games. Wasn't a homer then but if I were able to get back on the floor now I might just be the biggest homer you ever saw. My wife and I thouroughly enjoy watching the Lady Vols play. Florida got some of that home cooking today--The train wreck where Spani was derailed is a perfect example. That was a pass she was trying to catch not a loose ball, therefore, no incidental contact. We do need to make that extra pass back out and then we will be more comfortable shooting when we get the ball back. JJ must learn that there are three things you can do with the ball. The third one is pass it to another player. IMHO Holly and her staff are doing a wonderful job with this young team. Just keep plugging away. GBO

underthehill writes:

in response to jt45:

Seems like anything I can get local is always blacked out on ESPN3 when it involves UT sports wich is local for me. I did not check ESPN3 today though.Im not sure my nerves could have handled it anyway, the radio was bad enough.

I was surprised I got it on ESPN3 ..because I do not usually when it is on ESPNU..I don't know if it made any difference but I just tried going to utsports.com because I have watched some games there..then when I clicked watch live ..it took me to ESPN3..

RLL59 writes:

in response to volguy#211935:

My wife, our 17-year-old, and I went to the game, as we live near Orlando (behind enemy lines). It was a little too close for my comfort. When we went up 51-42 in the second half, I thought we would put some distance between us and Florida, but we couldn't. We didn't shoot well and Florida did. Part of it was letting the ball get down on the low block and they had relatively easy shots from there. Bottom line is we hit the FT late and they didn't and that was the difference. It was a SEC road win against a decent team on a day when we didn't play our best. Just a note: Out of the 2,609 in attendance, I am thinking about 800-900 were Big Orange fans! #GBO #VFL

Good synopsis of the game. The man to man defense just wasn't effective, and the shots weren't falling in the second half. Again the Lady Vols lost their center for nearly the entire first half, but Florida lost its best player for the entire second half. Ours was a coach's decision; theirs wasn't. Izzy ended the game with 2 fouls.

Good decision by Holly at the end of regulation to have Kamiko foul, thereby giving Fl only 5 seconds for a last shot rather than 10. It worked. Good, and gutsy, decision by Coach Butler to call for a foul with 26 seconds left in overtime and the score tied. ..though it didn't work as well as she hoped, it did give FL the ball, down one, with a chance to win.

Good win; it would have been a very disappointing loss.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to madrigal:

Sounds like the Big Griper is back with another nom-de-keyboard. Next I suppose he'll claim that he has Multiple Personality Disorder. Nah, can't be, all his personalities are the same--hateful. Just stuff him back down his troll hole.

Hey, it was a W. That's all that counts. Sometimes you just win ugly, but it's still a win.

Yeah Looks like the Big Griper aka The Element is back with his latest user name

Theo writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Of course you aren't three names in two weeks bigot poster. We are still laughing at you.
Your hatred of Holly is not welcome here.

Noogaorange writes:

in response to 8inarow:

That is what Slive said too! He said that if it weren't for the girls sports at UT, he is not sure why the Vols were still in the SEC!

Proof Slive said that! Sounds like BS to me.

Volinflan writes:

in response to mountainViews:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The Lady Vols showed great discipline in the final minutes of the game and many of us Vol fans did also. I mean I did not have a heart attack although it was close and I did not throw any "beverages" against the wall (hate cleaning that up). Meaning it was a great game and a fun game to watch. Tough on the old nerves though!!! I hope they win by 40 next game. (not really)

golfman1975 writes:

in response to vol98champ:

Don't know when I have seen more bodies on the floor. Fla is a combination of football(side body blocks) and boxing(right crosses). I'll get crucified for this, but Fla's coach looks evil.

She is! Have you seen her new broom? It's a bute.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seriously? We WON on the road at UF...played like a football game. You need to suk in some helium and lighten up a little.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Not to be too concerned with the Cattle herder, having just joined Jan 12, which is another red flag troll identification.

Another troll who couldn't measure up to the girls on the playground. So.........those of this sort have to take it out on anyone who is successful.

Aside from this troll..........the girls, having lost the nucleus of last year's team are doing quite well.

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