[title_box title=”Lady Vols drop Arkansas, 75-57″]
Tennessee came into Thursday night’s home game against Arkansas riding a big win over rival Alabama, and it showed.
The Lady Vols dominated the game against a young Razorbacks team with a convincing 18-point win to clinch Holly Warlick’s 100th victory as Tennessee’s head coach.
Both teams came out firing, combining for 42 points at the end of the first quarter. The score was close at that point, but things would look much different by halftime.
Tennessee held on to a four-point lead, and Te’a Cooper led the way for the Lady Vols in the second quarter as she helped her team outscore the Razorbacks 18-8 in that period.
Early on, the game looked like it would be a close one.
Tennessee and Arkansas battled toe-to-toe, with Cooper and Arkansas’ Jessica Jackson each hitting a 3-pointer to start the game.
Cooper went on to shoot 4-for-12 from field goal range and 3-for-10 from behind the three-point line for the night while Jackson ended up shooting 50 percent from field goal range and 2-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Cooper and Jackson performed well, but each team had several players making crucial plays throughout the contest.
Diamond DeShields came up big for Tennessee several times during the second half, one play of which was a 3-pointer that gave the Lady Vols a 10-point lead to close the third quarter.
Arkansas, not to be completely outdone, relied on Jackson and guard Devin Cosper to keep things close through the third quarter.
DeShields also nailed a big shot in the third, grabbed a steal, and sprinted down the court for the layup, drawing a foul as she did so.
That play got a large ovation from a relatively crowded audience at Thompson-Boling Arena, and things heated up even more for Tennessee from there.
Tennessee was up by 20 at one point in the first half, but after Arkansas chipped away at the lead, the Lady Vols stretched the lead out again going into the final quarter.
Tennessee’s fourth quarter run was fueled by an improved defensive performance and the sharp shooting of DeShields, Alexa Middleton and Mercedes Russell.
During the game, Russell had two blocks that alluded to Tennessee’s scrappy defensive stand, and Jordan Reynolds added eight points of her own as the Lady Vols capitalized on most of their shots from the charity stripe.
Tennessee held on to win in lopsided fashion, 75-57.
DeShields, who hasn’t been at her best lately, did a complete turnaround in Thursday night’s game.
After the game, Holly Warlick commented on the sophomore guard.
“I just told her, ‘You don’t have to carry this team. You just have to go play hard.'”
DeShields gave her own insight into her performance, saying she “felt more comfortable.”
That’s certainly a good thing to hear, as the Lady Vols travel to College Station, Texas on Sunday to face Texas A&M.
After her 100th win, Warlick commented on the Lady Vols’ schedule so far and said,
“It’s just a tough stretch for us every time I look up. We’ve just gotta be ready.”
The Lady Vols tip off against the Aggies on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
Featured image by Wade Rackley
Edited by Cody McClure
Sports editor Jake Nichols has been part of the TNJN staff in two different capacities. His freshman and sophomore years, Jake worked as a staff writer before moving on to write for Rocky Top Insider, and he also worked with VFL Films and the SEC Network for a semester his junior year. When asked the summer before his senior year to return to TNJN as the sports editor, Jake jumped at the chance to end his time in Knoxville working with the organization he first began with as a freshman. Jake is excited to help lead younger writers, much like former editors Cody McClure and Jordan Dajani aided him. Jake also does freelance sports coverage and photography for The Mountain Press in Sevierville, Tenn., and in his spare time, he can be found with family, his girlfriend or driving his Jeep, most likely with his Canon in tow. Be sure and follow Jake on Twitter and Instagram at @jnichols_2121, and keep up with TNJN Sports on Twitter as well!