April 17, 2024

Tennessee survives the Gators’ bite on Senior Night

Diamond DeShields and Mercedes Russell helped lead the Vols to an important 74-70 win against the Florida Gators on Senior Night.

KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 23, 2017 - Mercedes Russell #21 of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers during the game between the Florida Gators and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee’s Diamond DeShields filled the stat sheet against Florida, leading the Lady Vols (18-10, 9-6 SEC) to a much-needed 74-70 win against the Gators (13-15, 4-11 SEC).

It was a tight game all the way through. The visitors began the game on an 8-0 run, but an Alexa Middleton 3-pointer got Tennessee going. Florida’s Roni Williams surged in the first quarter with eight points, which helped the Gators carry a 22-13 lead into the second quarter.

The Lady Vols grabbed their first lead of the night late in the second quarter and carried it into the halftime break. There were six lead changes in the third quarter as the game continued to be back-and-forth. In the final period, Gators hit a three with under four minutes remaining to take a 68-61 lead, but failed to score for the rest of the game. Williams fouled out with 22 points and Florida could not find a replacement for scoring.

Mercedes Russell led the way in scoring for the Lady Vols with 17 points. DeShields almost messed around and got a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick said a big key to the victory was being able to keep Florida off the offensive glass, allowing only 11 offensive boards. “We found a way to win,” Warlick said. “It all started with our defensive stops and getting defensive rebounds.”

On Senior Night in Thompson-Boling Arena, both seniors for the Lady Vols contributed to the win. Jordan Reynolds had a well-rounded game with seven points and three assists, while Schaquilla Nunn had clutch defensive rebounds and free throws to seal the game.

“I don’t think we win the game without Schaquilla Nunn tonight,” Warlick said. “She has made a difference with this basketball team.”

It was a much-needed win for the Lady Vols leading up to the big game on the road against No. 3 Mississippi State on Sunday. Depending on some other results around the conference, a win against the Bulldogs could put Tennessee in the top four of the SEC. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

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