Skylar Diggins scores 33 to lead Notre Dame past Lady Vols

Notre Dame executes as expected

Tennessee's Kamiko Williams collides with Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins at Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday, January 28, 2013. Tennessee loses to Notre Dame, 77-67. 


(Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2012 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's Kamiko Williams collides with Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins at Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday, January 28, 2013. Tennessee loses to Notre Dame, 77-67. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Holly Warlick on the Lady Vols' loss to Notre Dame

Hard to miss Skylar Diggins Monday night, but Tennessee somehow lost her anyway.

The All-American cut down the lane unimpeded early in the second half, as if she was jogging through a park. She received a pass and scored a layup.

The two points were part of a career-high 33 scored by the senior point guard. The play reflected a methodical offensive display that featured 53.6 percent shooting (15 for 28) from the floor after halftime. The player and the performance meshed perfectly for a 77-67 women's basketball victory over the Lady Vols.

"They were just running their offense," UT senior Taber Spani said. "We watched it all week on film. We knew what they were going to do. I think they are one of the best teams in the country at executing."

Diggins was the consummate conductor. She wowed a crowd of 13,556 at Thompson-Boling Arena by scoring 22 of her points in the second half. Six of them — along with three assists, a block and a steal — ignited an 11-point scoring run. The Diggins-led charge expanded a four-point to 54-37 with 14:13 left.

Raising of Pat Summitt's Banner

"She played fantastic and hit key shots for them," Spani said. "She was their leader emotionally. She willed her team to victory."

Other than Diggins, Jewell Loyd was Notre Dame's only other double-figure scorer with 10 points. The nation's top free throw shooting team was a shaky 12 for 21 from the foul line. The No. 2 Irish (19-1), who also are among the nation's top rebounders, were outrebounded by UT, 47-45.

No. 9 Tennessee (16-4) saw an opportunity through these cracks in Notre Dame's performance and mounted a comeback. Led by a team-high 19 points from Bashaara Graves, the Lady Vols whittled a 19-point deficit to five after a Spani free throw with 3:54 left.

"We were on the verge of getting blown out," UT coach Holly Warlick said. "We could've laid down and died. We fought back."

But then Diggins responded by zipping a pass to teammate Madison Cable for a layup and nailing her third and final 3-pointer. End of rally.

"When you go to college, you dream of playing in games like this," Diggins said. "I thought we did a good job of handling it. We took our punches and kept it rolling."

Emotions were running high before the game when head coach emeritus Pat Summitt was honored on the court with a banner-raising ceremony that paid tribute to her 1,098 victories and eight national championships as UT's coach.

Despite three baskets inside the first two minutes, The Lady Vols' shooting percentage plunged to 28.6 percent (10 for 35) at halftime, undermining some of the best defense they played all night.

The Lady Vols also lost starting center Isabelle Harrison, who was helped to the locker room after suffering an injury to her left knee 5:07 before halftime.

Harrison took the court with left knee problems. UT announced in a release beforehand that the 6-foot-3 sophomore had been diagnosed with a lateral meniscus injury but was cleared to play. Warlick had no update afterward on Harrison's condition.

"I was more worried about Izzy at first," said Graves, who grabbed 13 rebounds. "Then I started playing for her."

Spani scored 12 points. Meighan Simmons overcame early foul trouble to score 11. But the Lady Vols couldn't overcome 33.3 percent shooting (22 for 66).

And they didn't have an answer for Diggins.

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 » 131

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Missing point blank layups will kill you in a highly competitive game. Not to mention turnovers and poor decisions with the bb. Did UT practice before this game??

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Holly, pretty damn good job.

UT isn't ready to beat any top team yet, but there were some good sparks.

Graves continues to play well and hard.

Holly is on the right track.

Diggins.....sick of her. Period. Gets away with murder.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

A bit disappointed. Missed a lot of shots we should have made. Is Izzy ok?

fake_basketball writes:

when does UT play UCONN?

fake_basketball writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Holly, pretty damn good job.

UT isn't ready to beat any top team yet, but there were some good sparks.

Graves continues to play well and hard.

Holly is on the right track.

Diggins.....sick of her. Period. Gets away with murder.

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

PureOrange writes:

This team needs to realize they are pretty good. But the freezing up against top teams has got to stop. We go into these games acting like we are in awe of these teams. Throwing the ball away with very lame passes, and throwing up shots like a three year old hoping for something good to happen, and slinging up layups hard enough to break the backboard. We are much better than this.

Looks like Holly needs to load some prozac in their water before the game. Relax and play their game. Our defense can be good, but at times we act like we do not know what defense looks like as we allow uncontested drives to the basket.

Hope we learn from this. And certainly hope Izzy is ok. We cannot do without her.

VOLindiana writes:

Wow. What a game. As soon as ND broke open the second half I thought it was done. Minus the loss, FINALLY so excited to see them fight back. This team had there back against the wall and they had two options. They responded. Again we lost but the grit of this team showed passion.
1. Missed too many around the rim
2. Rebounding
It's okay that SD scored 33, what's not ok is the fact we gave her an EASY 33points.
3. We missed just the size and presence of izzy. I really hope she is ok.
Overall, satisfied we did some good things considering we are young. The bad side we lost and couldn't finish around the rim. We expect championships at Tennessee. Got 3 months to get better.

Whats your take on having cierra in this game? She enough to swing that 10 points around to a victory?

bigdisbig writes:

Lady Vols are a good team but not a great team. It takes a great team to beat the best and the LVs just don't have it. The rest of college basketball has caught up with the Lady Vols but at least they are hanging in there.
I just hope they don't take the same route as the men's program.
Lady Vol Basketball is all the university has these days.

VOLindiana writes:

Props to the team and holly and staff... Definitely not the same team who started 0-1

oldbasshead writes:

Looks like Coach Warlick knowing that Diggins was such a great player could have better prepared the team to defend her.

underthehill writes:

Kamiko was on the floor when the 1st half ended..she did not start the 2nd half..I thought she would..the game was over before she got back in ..the late run was too little too late..

Volinflan writes:

The stats show, Massengale stunk, Simmons stunk (really bad) and Spani stunk. Graves will be the future of the lady vols great teams, along with Jasmine Jones and players to be named later. Perhaps a good point guard like Andrya Carter could have made the difference tonight. The point was awful. Spani and Williams looked like they were having senior moments.

oldbasshead writes:

I was really hoping the the Lady Vols would play with more composure this time,but they didn't. Simmons and Spani did not show up again in a big game. Lady Vols measure themselves by SEC standards which is second level when it comes to playing top 10 teams. Just not good enough. Maybe next year.

coffy73 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Holly, pretty damn good job.

UT isn't ready to beat any top team yet, but there were some good sparks.

Graves continues to play well and hard.

Holly is on the right track.

Diggins.....sick of her. Period. Gets away with murder.

Yes, on most, not the end though :) What I saw from ND is a more polished, cohesive team with a clear leader. Tenn. hasn't had a true leader since Parker left and this hurts the team. Things will come together, but for now they're a little rough around the edges and sloppy; but like you said, Holly is on the right track.

volfan2002 writes:

We need better play at the point guard position when we play teams the caliber of Notre Dame. We got it going for a few minutes there but we couldn't contain Diggins down the stretch. We'll be in the top four teams next season with Russell coming in. This season let us hope we can win the SEC title and advance to the elite 8.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to emailnodata:

Holly, pretty damn good job.

UT isn't ready to beat any top team yet, but there were some good sparks.

Graves continues to play well and hard.

Holly is on the right track.

Diggins.....sick of her. Period. Gets away with murder.

Proud to be Lady Vol fan! They played their hearts out. They could have folded their tent and went home but gutted it out.

Diggins had 1 foul all night...seriously? I saw her push off at least 10 times. Her only foul was when she pushed our guard down. Sorry we lost Harrison, hope she isn't hurt bad. Simmons had an off night and Sani had a tough one.

VOLindiana writes:

I think what we've seen from carter (minimal yes) she looks promising and we get her for 4 years at the point.

underthehill writes:

in response to Volinflan:

The stats show, Massengale stunk, Simmons stunk (really bad) and Spani stunk. Graves will be the future of the lady vols great teams, along with Jasmine Jones and players to be named later. Perhaps a good point guard like Andrya Carter could have made the difference tonight. The point was awful. Spani and Williams looked like they were having senior moments.

Wrong about Kamiko..she was the leader that got the Lady Vols back in the game the first half..the game was over before she got back on the floor the 2nd half..right about Jones and Graves..Jones is really looking good..lack of defense was the main reason this game was lost..no switching on screens...same as last year..

oldbasshead writes:

in response to PureOrange:

This team needs to realize they are pretty good. But the freezing up against top teams has got to stop. We go into these games acting like we are in awe of these teams. Throwing the ball away with very lame passes, and throwing up shots like a three year old hoping for something good to happen, and slinging up layups hard enough to break the backboard. We are much better than this.

Looks like Holly needs to load some prozac in their water before the game. Relax and play their game. Our defense can be good, but at times we act like we do not know what defense looks like as we allow uncontested drives to the basket.

Hope we learn from this. And certainly hope Izzy is ok. We cannot do without her.

This team needs a lot of coaching and confidence building. They have much ability but it is raw and unrefined. The jury is still out on Warlick's ability to bring a team to the top. Also, they really need an All American. A player they can go to in big games. Simmons is not that players. She is great against good teams, but has a problem with self confidence against top rated teams.

ModelMaker writes:

You can't keep losing key players to injury (three starters) and except to win anything. The Lady Vols certainly have had their fair share over the last four years. I think Holy has done a good job with what she has had to work with. If this team had everyone healthy like Notre Dame, who knows what might have happened.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

I said I would be happy with a win and ok with a 8 pt or less loss. Well we loss by 10 . I'm ok with it because we have a chance to improve and get healthy. Yes we turned the ball over and yes our girls missed a couple of chippys but let's look at the positives. We held ND to less than 40% from the field. Our bigs held their own and cause Achowa to get into foul trouble. We contained McBride which was huge, and we made Diggins win it for her team which she did but we will find a way to stop her next time. Our girls got down on themselves midway through the second half and CW did a fine job of getting them back into it. It was too late though. But we will be there with a healthy Izzy and Burdick.
We will get them next year . Skylar will be gone and look our sophs and Frosh are better than theirs. Every team has its today. Let's sweep the SEC and get back to business.

oldbasshead writes:

The Lady Vols also need to work on their strength training. ND out muscled them tonight. With the exception of Simmons and Massengil, they need to be faster as well. Williams and Spani are the seniors and are good players, but they are not the goto player the Lady Vols need. Graves had a good game, but to win this game Simmons and Spani needed to have big games and once again, they didn't.

AlpharettaVol writes:

Simmons has some good moments as a scorer and she certainly has speed. Her defense, however, is non- existent. I can't understand why she was assigned to guard Diggins much of the game. It was like asking a middle schooler to guard LeBron James. Whenever Diggins broke for the basket Simmons just followed about two steps behind. Whenever Simmons is in the game she needs to guard the opposition's poorest shooting and slowest player. That way Simmons can just rest without hurting her team.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to oldbasshead:

This team needs a lot of coaching and confidence building. They have much ability but it is raw and unrefined. The jury is still out on Warlick's ability to bring a team to the top. Also, they really need an All American. A player they can go to in big games. Simmons is not that players. She is great against good teams, but has a problem with self confidence against top rated teams.

I see the glass half full. We were missing 2 starters and another freshman out for the year. Still leading the SEC and were picked 5th. Long season with many more games. We will be fine.

oldster writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Lady Vols are a good team but not a great team. It takes a great team to beat the best and the LVs just don't have it. The rest of college basketball has caught up with the Lady Vols but at least they are hanging in there.
I just hope they don't take the same route as the men's program.
Lady Vol Basketball is all the university has these days.

You said exactly what I was going to post. The one thing I would add is that with Mercedes driving the team next year the Lady Vols could move back up. Unfortunately, they will be losing Spani, so maybe not. The men's teams - every single one of them, will continue to suffer. They are still suffering from the Mike Hamilton jinx.

oldbasshead writes:

in response to golfman1975:

I see the glass half full. We were missing 2 starters and another freshman out for the year. Still leading the SEC and were picked 5th. Long season with many more games. We will be fine.

I'm glad the LV's are leading the SEC. On the other hand, there is no team in the SEC that can play with the top 5 teams right now. The LV's need to raise their standards beyond the SEC in order to compete nationally. I see great promise with this team. Lots of good young players and a good recruiting class coming.

oldbasshead writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I too was surprised at the effectiveness of the LV's preparation and wonder if HW will learn from this or if she is already as good as she will ever be.

SummittsCourt writes:

Definately way too many unemployed coaches around here.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You can prep all you want, when the talent isn't there, the talent isn't there.

ND beat UConn at Hartford....and the only player on UT's current roster who'd see the floor at UConn is Graves.

UT is paying the price for Pat's final post-Candace years.

wigmeister writes:

Hope Izzy is ok!

r2d2 writes:

The LVs lost because their paint defense is not the best and they do have a true All-American player like Skylar Diggins. I hope this will change next year with Ms. Russell. Other potential All-American candidates are Bashaara and Jasmine Jones, Also, Ariel does a passable job at point guard but the LVs need a better point guard to win a NC.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Over the years, under a different screen name, I took Summitt to task over her recruiting. She got a windfall with Candace and Anosike, otherwise UT goes a LONG time from its last NC.

Right now, you are looking at a UT team that is 'tops' in the SEC, probably 'tops' in the Big 10, 2nd or 3rd in the ACC, and 2nd or 3rd in the Pac 10.

On the national stage, though, the talent is just flat not there.

Holly makes the talent calls now...let's see how she does.

One thing she DOES do well...she has her player's trust.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Name any team with a first year coach that was/is ranked in the top 10 and undefeated in the conference? My friend coach Holly is not going to have very many losing seasons if any at all. That is not Tennessee. Can't you see that we play more lower classmen than any other team in the NCAA? What does that tell you? They are going to be awesome and win championships once the Griners and Diggins of the league graduate.

oldbasshead writes:

in response to emailnodata:

You can prep all you want, when the talent isn't there, the talent isn't there.

ND beat UConn at Hartford....and the only player on UT's current roster who'd see the floor at UConn is Graves.

UT is paying the price for Pat's final post-Candace years.

You are certainly right about the post Candace years. I do see lots of talent, it is just young and in need of development. To play at the top you have to have a Parker or Diggins with support players like the ones we now have. We just don't have that one special player that every top team has.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

One other....
I have no problems with Diggins scoring whatever.

What UT did not do was execute well enough the entire game offensively. A consistent offense by UT, and maybe this collection gets a good win.

BruisedOrange writes:

If I'm correct, the top tier teams that we've been unable to beat have one trait in common--they've never had to double-team any Lady Vol, nor switch to a zone because of an unfavorable matchup.

But as a program, we are getting there. Harrison (God bless her), Graves and Jones are the new standard, with more coming.

And then we'll make another championship run when we land that one difference maker that forces other Ds to adjust to her game.

Pat's formula hasn't really changed... there's just more top-level talent out there. Time was you could win a championship with three athletes, a point guard and a bomber. Now your first 6 or 7 all have to be superior athletes--including the point--and at least two have to be 3-point shooters.

oldbasshead writes:

Going to bed. Disappointed, but hopeful. Looking forward to more wins. Go LV's.

movinonup writes:

Ok - everyone take a breath here. Raise your hand if after the first game of the year you would have taken our current record and being undefeated in SEC play....

I, for one, am so excited for the future of this team. In looking at the schedule at the first of the year, no way would I have thought we could have even stayed in this game, much less with the injuries we have sustained.

Great job LV and Coach....learn from this and keep it going !

golfman1975 writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Calling anyone a midget shows just how classless you are. Quit using WE on your posts.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

Well my bday ended on a sour note but I'm proud of my girls for toughen it out and I hope my Izzy gets better. We need you gal. Ok back to getting after Miss St . Thursday.

Theo writes:

Be glad when Diggins and Grinner graduate. The really good news is that three years from now I believe the rest of the nation will be glad that Graves and one or two of her teammates will be graduating.
Loved that we fought, a couple of stops, Izzy stays in the game. We could have bagged this one.
Coach W and her staff are doing a great job. Meighan and Taber have just got to breathe and show up for these big games. Still much better than Stanford and Baylor.
The future is so bright for the LVs it makes my eyes hurt! Love this team, love this staff. Go LV, beat the Bullies.
Any news on Izzy? Will we hear something tomorrow?

RLL59 writes:

ND showed what can be done with screens and picks, even when your players are not quick. Why is it that SD can get off shots whenever she wishes and Meighan has a tough time getting a single open shot? Talent and quickness wise, the Lady Vols were right up there with ND; they lack experience, and coaching that stresses how to develop a play and how to defend against an organized, skilled offense. The Lady Vols can continue as they are, win the conference, and get no further than the sweet sixteen. Or they can start right now to develop an all around game, perhaps struggle a bit in the conference, but have a chance to beat anyone but Baylor in the tournament.

One1617 writes:

Hopefully Holly Warlick continues to schedule multiple top 10 ten teams in her coaching career. Games like this is what will eventually build a championship team especially when young (win or lose). Had Tennessee not lost to Baylor, Stanford,and had other close calls against good competition, Notre Dame probably wins 70 to 40 something. I was at that game and could feel how the momentum was changing. Suddenly, they didn't care that Notre Dame had a number 2 besides their name. No wonder Duke couldn't beat Connecticut last week, they hadn't played anybody before then, so they got blown out by 30. BTW Holly Warlick needs to put Duke and Purdue in the schedule next year in addition to whoever else they're playing.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

What we've seen with both the guys and the girls is playing teams that have a player having a career game against Tennessee ( Diggins and Henderson. ) It seems we know who the key players are but just can't figure how to even slow them down.

In this game, the Lady Vols IMO were shooting panic shots at the basket. Close in, missed layups, and shots that just didn't have a confident look.

Several times, the LV's came down.......missed the shot, ND rebounded, went down and hit a 3........they are 5 point turnarounds.

Near the end of the game, last 2 or 3 minutes, when we needed relatively quick shots, the ball was passed around until a turnover resulted.

Massengale had a pretty difficult night. On the other hand, Graves was awesome. Yes, taking away 3 players from the roster with injuries hurt a lot...........not many teams would succeed losing that many players.

But guys and gals, losing to Stanford, Baylor, and Notre Dame? This team will only get better having faced that bunch........and once they get the ball handling and shooting improved............they'll be just fine !

Theo writes:

Off topic but - when are we going to put Candace in the rafters? I think it is time. We need to do this while Pat can be an active part of the endeavor. How do we get that moving? If Joan were still there I would start there. Wonder if Hart knows who Candace is?
Anyway, Candace deserves to be there. Not only for her NCs but what a loyal LV she has been.

Utstudenteric writes:

This ball game would of been entirely different had Izzy not went down. The rebounding advantage ND had would of been gone much earlier. Not too mention when Izzy went down is when things started to quickly go downhill. Graves said it for herself and probably for the rest of the lady vols when she said she was just "more worried about Izzy at first but then I started playing for her and my breath started coming back to me."
They just got too nervous about what happened. There was a clear change in demeanor. Then you saw them kind of settle down and look what happened. They battled back. That takes a lot of heart and grit. It just came too late. This team has had to deal with a number of obstacles all season. Everyone's doubted them, but they continue to surprise. Don't forget we were ranked 20th at the beginning of the season. Picked 5th in the SEC. Look where we are now! 1st place in the conference. Ninth in the nation. All hope is not lost in Tennessee. Holly Warlick knows what she is doing. You can't expect someone to step in to a head coaching position without a household name player and expect to win a national championship. Just be patient. Give the plethora of talent we have the time it needs to come through.

Just a side note here. The referees had it out for Tennessee the whole evening. One of the Notre Dame players even nearly broke one of the referees hips (which was quite comical after I realized she was okay) and they still let Diggins continually push our players all over the place, as well as let every single one of their girls go over the back all night. Yet they called some of the cheapest fouls I have ever seen in my entire life on the girls in orange. That wasn't why we lost though. Just didn't help. It was especially nice to see Warlick get real fired up after one ref. Don't know if anyone else saw it, but I thought she was about to put a hole through the hardwood as hard as she was stomping around. Elzy even had to pull her away from the ref. Quite a sight.

Hoping Izzy is all right, but it didn't look good.

r2d2 writes:

The All-American factor is the most important factor in WCBB when the teams are even according to talent. ND has a true first team ALL-American player. The LVs do not. By the way, neither does UCONN, but they are a better team overall than the LVs. As I read on anoter essage board, put Skylar on our team and the LVs win.

Theo writes:

in response to r2d2:

The All-American factor is the most important factor in WCBB when the teams are even according to talent. ND has a true first team ALL-American player. The LVs do not. By the way, neither does UCONN, but they are a better team overall than the LVs. As I read on anoter essage board, put Skylar on our team and the LVs win.

I must disagree on a small point of order. We do have a first team All-American on our team. She is just an underclassman at the moment. She is in high school at the moment. This team is very talented. Our time is right around the corner.

coffy73 writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know, after the loss to Baylor, I read many awful, disgusting things regarding Griner from sore loser fans of Tenn. and I'm seeing similar things about Diggins. Listen, this LV team is good, but not great and disparaging another teams great, star players won't fix it! All it does is make LV fans look like sore losers; Both Skylar and Brittney are amazing players and deserve the accolades they receive. I wish either were on the LV side!

VolInIndy writes:

in response to underthehill:

Wrong about Kamiko..she was the leader that got the Lady Vols back in the game the first half..the game was over before she got back on the floor the 2nd half..right about Jones and Graves..Jones is really looking good..lack of defense was the main reason this game was lost..no switching on screens...same as last year..

Disagree about Kamiko. IMHO, she was sporadic. Lapsed back in to her underclassmen lazy stretches at times on defense and led to some easy layups. She has really been bringing it of late but took a half step back tonight,

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