GREENVILLE, S.C. — Despite a double-double by Mercedes Russell, Tennessee was never able to get in a consistent groove against Alabama in the second round of the SEC Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, falling 72-64 on Thursday afternoon.
Russell finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds in the contest, both of which were game highs. Diamond DeShields posted another all-around performance, totaling 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Five players reached double-digit scoring for the Crimson Tide, who were led by Meoshonti Knight’s 16 points and six rebounds. Ashley Knight posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds as well as six blocks in the contest.
After taking an 11-5 lead early in the first quarter, the Tennessee offense had trouble getting shots to fall. The defense made up for it, though, as Alabama went on a 4:41 scoring drought. A late push by the Crimson Tide gave them a 15-14 lead after the first period.
The Lady Vols’ strong defensive play continued in the second stanza, where Alabama was held to just seven points and 23.1 percent shooting for the quarter. Four of the five starters for UT scored at least five points in the first half, with DeShields leading the way with seven to go along with three rebounds and a pair of steals. Tennessee took a 29-22 lead into intermission.
The third quarter was all Alabama. After UT took a 34-24 lead, the Crimson Tide went on a 16-2 run to pull ahead of the Lady Vols, who shot 21.4 percent for the period. Tennessee trailed 43-39 going into the final quarter of play. The Lady Vols were never able to regain momentum in the game, dropping the second-round match-up to the Crimson Tide.
RUSSELL DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Mercedes Russell recorded her 17th double-double of the season behind 16 points and 12 rebounds. With 17, she passes Chamique Holdsclaw for the second-most double-doubles by a junior in Tennessee history. She only needs two more to surpass Isabelle Harrison (18) for the most all time by a junior. Russell now has 28 in her career, one from tying Bashaara Graves (29) for ninth all time.