Knoxville, TN — Monday’s matchup between the Tennessee Lady Volunteers and No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish extended beyond the game occurring on the court. Tonight, Pat Summitt, the legendary Lady Vols coach, was honored by a packed house. In a very emotional, heartfelt night for fans, Tennessee walked away victorious with a 71-69 win after upsetting the Fighting Irish.
It was a game of who could rebound best. Tennessee struggled to snag offensive rebounds, whereas Notre Dame excelled in protecting its rim and getting multiple shot attempts in a possession.
Shouts of “Rebound!” were reverberated throughout the crowd. In the first quarter, the Irish had 11 rebounds to the Lady Vols’ 7.
The Lady Vols have an impressive passing game, though. Standouts like Diamond DeShields and Mercedes Russell had a knack for finding an open teammate and simultaneously outsmarting their opponents while they’re at it.
It would be the second chance points that would help Notre Dame gain the lead by the end of the first over Tennessee, 25-18.
The Fighting Irish were sneaky. It was Notre Dame’s shots from downtown that snuck up the fastest on the scoreboard, and the lead on the Lady Vols. The Irish didn’t stop there, though: from the paint, Notre Dame had 22 points in the first half. Tennessee succeeded at drawing the foul just at the right time to dampen Notre Dame’s momentum; however, it wouldn’t be enough to gain the lead.
The Lady Vols trailed 44-31 as the teams headed to their respective locker-rooms.
The second half was a story of “can Tennessee keep up?”
And that they did.
Notre Dame set the pace from the beginning of the third period, but with just 3:51 left, the Lady Vols closed in on Notre Dame, making it a one-point game, 65-64.
For the remaining minutes of the game, the Fighting Irish and the Lady Vols went back and forth with who held the lead. Coming out of a timeout, Tennessee was able to take the lead with 10.3 seconds left after Jamie Nared knocked down a pull-up, 71-69.
Notre Dame would get one last shot attempt at the rim, but it wouldn’t be enough to avoid being upset by the Lady Vols.
And while Tennessee coach Holly Warlick questioned their heart a few months ago, tonight Tennessee showed the resolve that would make the late, great Pat Summitt proud.
DeShields had a game-high 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and three blocks, as she led the comeback charge for her team.
On Jan. 19, the Lady Vols head to Auburn and Notre Dame to Boston College as the two teams return to conference play.