Holly Warlick and No. 12 Tennessee beat Vanderbilt (6-18, 2-8 SEC) for the 70th time in school history. The win wasn’t a walk in the park for the Lady Vols, as they trailed the Commodores 43-41 through three quarters of play. Tennessee outlasted Vanderbilt 74-64 in Memorial Gymnasium.
Here are the takeaways from the Lady Vols hard fought win.
Tennessee goes as Russell and Nared go.
The dynamic senior duo of Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell once again saved the Lady Vols from a loss. Russell notched 20 points and 11 rebounds, as well as four steals on 10-of-16 shooting in the win. Meanwhile, Nared tallied a season-high and career-high tying 30 points and 14 rebounds in Memorial Gym. No other Tennessee player logged double-digits Sunday, except freshman Anastasia Hayes, who recorded 10 points from the bench.
Russell and Nared upended the Commodores. However, Tennessee still needs production from other players, especially from its freshman guards.
Lady Vols dominate the boards and turn it up defensively.
Tennessee is an incredible 16-1 when it out-rebounds opponents and 1-3 when it fails to do so. Luckily for the Volunteers, they out-rebounded Vanderbilt by a dominating 41-29 margin. Were it not for Tennessee’s work on the glass, the Commodores would have likely beat the Lady Vols.
Vanderbilt finished with a better overall shooting percentage and shot better from beyond-the-arc than Tennessee. The Lady Vols’ 21 offensive rebounds and 17 forced turnovers made the difference in Nashville.
It shouldn’t have been so close.
While it was a breath of fresh air for Tennessee fans to see the Lady Vols come out with a win, the team still struggled against a six-win team. A win is a win, but this game showed that Warlick and Tennessee still have consistency issues. The Volunteers were one bad performance from Nared or Russell away from taking a bad loss in Memorial Gym.
Tennessee has shown that it is one of the most talented teams in the nation, but its inconsistency is a red flag. The Lady Vols will be put to the test as they face three ranked teams in their next six games including a healthy South Carolina team. Two of Tennessee’s next four game also come against teams who are higher in the SEC standing. Long story short, it’s crunch time for the Lady Vols.
Edited by Ben McKee
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics