Tennessee’s women’s basketball team was defeated 62-46 by South Carolina Sunday in the SEC tournament championship game in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The loss marked only the fifth time the Lady Vols (27-5, 15-1) have stumbled this season. They have now won 12 of their last 14 games with both losses coming at the hands of the Gamecocks.
Tennessee won their first two games of the tournament – knocking off Georgia on Friday 75-41 then holding off Kentucky on Saturday 75-64.
After Sunday’s game, head coach Holly Warlick said, “It was a hard fought game. South Carolina was tough. They played hard. Very deserving of the game. I thought our kids battled. It just wasn’t our night.”
Warlick emphasized that the Gamecocks played better on defense in the second meeting, but that the Lady Vols also missed several easy shots. Missed layups and free throws were key factors in the scoring discrepancy.
The Lady Vols now turn their attention to the big dance. The field of 64 teams in the NCAA tournament – which Tennessee won eight times under Pat Summitt – will soon be announced. Tennessee has built a strong resume with multiple wins against top ten teams and a respectable RPI rating good for No. 2 in the country.
However, Tennessee has not locked up a No. 1 seed for the tournament. Sunday’s loss in the SEC championship game has created speculation on where the Lady Vols will end up. They will likely not fall lower than a No. 2 seed overall.
Warlick said, “We can have the number one RPI and the second toughest schedule in the country. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I think or how hard these kids play. We lost Isabelle Harrison, and the world has ended for us. That’s what’s out there, that the world has ended. But you know, we’re stepping up to the plate. We’ve got something to say.”
Wherever the Lady Vols end up, it can safely be said that they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder.
Edited by Maggie Jones