Oregon State tops Lady Vols in NCAA Tournament

Sixth-seeded Oregon State stunned the No. 3 Lady Volunteers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon. Tennessee fell 66-59 to the Beavers, its first home loss in tournament history, in front of 4,338 Vols fans. Tennessee exited in the second round for the second consecutive season, a program first.

“This was a huge win for our program. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us. It’s been a grind,” Oregon State Head Coach Scott Rueck said. “Today, this was really an incredible performance.”

The Lady Vols sparked an 11-2 run at the game start after a 3-pointer from senior forward Jaime Nared. Tennessee’s stout defense forced the Beavers to record just nine points in the first quarter. The Volunteers led 19-9 after 10 minutes of play, but the script flipped at the start of the second quarter.

Oregon State surged after a pair of free throws from guard Kat Tudor. The points sparked a 13-2 run for the Beavers to the give them the lead. Neither team scored for the next three minutes, until freshman guard Rennia Davis drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Tennessee a 26-24 lead at half.

The Volunteers shot just 25 percent from the floor in the second quarter. The Beavers knocked home nearly 60 percent of their shots from the field. Still, Tennessee had a prime chance to grind out the next two quarters for a win and defend its 57-0 record at home in NCAA Tournament games.

However, Oregon State transitioned to a 2-3 zone, which proved to be disastrous for the Volunteers in the second half.

“I think it just made us stagnate,” Vols senior center Mercedes Russell said. “”We were standing around on the perimeter a lot, not really passing and cutting and moving the defense, which we should have.

The Beavers went on an 11-2 run to end the third quarter and put Oregon State up 44-39 going into the fourth quarter. After Oregon State took its biggest lead of the game with more than three minutes remaining, Tennessee failed to claw back.

Four players logged double-digit points for the Beavers, as guards Mikayla Pivek and Katie McWilliams meshed for 30 points on the night. Seniors Russell and Nared led the Lady Vols in their last game in orange-and-white with a combined 30 points and 18 rebounds in the loss.

“My teammates, my coaches, everybody has just left an impact on my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. I think I’ve learned a lot,” Nared said. “It was a blessing to play here with the tradition and this team.”

Russell passed Candace Parker with her 46th career double-double on Sunday in her last game at Tennessee.

“I have a degree from the University of Tennessee, and I am a Lady Vol forever. Those are two things that you can never take away from me,” Russell said.

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Edited by Lexie Little

Second Half Pressure Powers Lady Vols Past Golden Grizzlies

Sunday afternoon the Lady Vols hosted the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in Thompson-Boling Arena. The game was toughly contested through the first half, but the Lady Vols full court pressure and upbeat tempo overpowered the Golden Grizzlies in the second.

The Lady Vols are yet to start any game with the passion that they bring in the second half. The Golden Grizzlies played a close game in the first half, bringing the Lady Vols’ lead to one point with two minutes left in the half. The Lady Vols hit two late three-pointers to escape the half with a 34-27 lead.

Holly Warlick must be an incredible motivator because the Lady Vols came out on fire in the second half. With a few tweaks to the starting lineup, the ladies opened the half with a 19-2 run would help them coast to victory. Bashaara Graves lead the team in scoring with 15 points and added 11 rebounds for a double-double.

Meighan Simmons had an excellent game as well, scoring 14 points and adding a multitude of other stats. Her three steals led to a widening of the deficit for the Golden Grizzlies. Freshman Mercedes Russell had a great game with 10 points and five rebounds. Her 6’6″ presence in the post proved to be too much for the smaller lineup for Oakland. She is quickly emerging as a star for the Lady Vols and will prove to be an asset for the team.

This marks the first time the Lady Vols have started their season a perfect 5-0 since their 2010 season. They head to the Junkaroo Jam in the Bahamas and face Virginia on Thursday and look to continue their hot win streak.

Edited by: Will Lomas