Tennessee made clear the correlation between Sunday’s 110-42 women’s basketball rout of Lipscomb at Thompson-Boling Arena and a disheartening loss at Stanford eight days earlier.
“We wanted to bounce back from Stanford,” forward Cierra Burdick said of the 76-70 loss. “We felt like that was a game we could have won.”
Funny how a loss can contribute to a victory. Or how a win can help set up a loss. Before Sunday, Tennessee’s most complete effort of the season resulted in an 87-47 victory over SMU on Nov. 29 in the championship game of the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas. The Lady Vols spent the three weeks following that victory squandering the momentum on sloppy, inconsistent play. It played into their performance at Stanford.
For one reason or another, forward Isabelle Harrison’s quote following the Lipscomb victory is worth remembering:
“We took this team serious,” she said, “and we’re going to do that to every team we play from now on.”
— Sunday’s victory underscored the importance of tempo to Tennessee’s play. The Lady Vols didn’t score 66 paint points by simply beating Lipscomb up the floor. The Lady Vols did push the ball up the floor, but they maintained their aggressiveness with ball movement, passing and player cuts.
“I don’t think the ball got stuck in our hands like it had in the past,” UT coach Holly Warlick said.
— Freshman center Mercedes Russell was as physical and active as she’s been in a game this year. In halfcourt sets, she was all over the court and outfought defenders for the ball. On defense, she tracked dribble drive plays and swatted away shots.
Her bottom line was 12 points on 5 for 8 shooting 7 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 assists.
— The starting guard trio of Andraya Carter, Meighan Simmons and Ariel Massengale had 14 total shots on Sunday. Against Stanford, they combined for 39 attempts. Centers Isabelle Harrison and Nia Moore and Burdick combined for 36 shot attempts versus Lipscomb.
— Upon arrival, new Lady Vol Jannah Tucker has gone to work. The freshman guard was spotted at Pratt Pavilion after Saturday’s practice doing extra shooting. On Sunday, she was the first player on the floor before the game.
— Lipscomb coach Greg Brown, a former Tennessee assistant coach, said that UT called about scheduling Sunday’s game. He also said that Tennessee will visit Lipscomb next season.
Freshman center Mercedes Russell was as p