An injured Diamond DeShields left the game on a stretcher in the first quarter and the Lady Vols struggled in Tuscaloosa Thursday as they lost to Alabama, 65-57.
With the loss, Tennessee has lost to the Crimson Tide in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1984. The Lady Vols fell to 16-10 overall on the season and 7-6 in SEC play. They have three regular season games remaining.
DeShields' head collided with an Alabama player's body as both women were going for a loose ball about four minutes into the game. Medical staff took DeShields off the court on a stretcher, and she was taken to a hospital. Coach Holly Warlick said after the game it was a precautionary measure to have Diamond go to the hospital, and that all signs pointed to her being okay.
The team tweeted late Thursday that DeShields had been cleared to fly home with the team and would see a doctor Friday.
.@DDDeshields has been cleared to fly home with the team tonight. She will receive further evaluation from UT team physicians Friday.— Lady Vol Basketball (@LadyVol_Hoops) February 17, 2017
On the court, the Lady Vols could not get over the hump after Alabama struck early. Tennessee's first lead came less than three minutes into the second quarter. Tennessee briefly re-took a 24-23 lead on a Schaquilla Nunn layup with three minutes before the half, a lead it wouldn't regain until the end of the third quarter. The Lady Vols did not lead at all in the final quarter of play.
Mercedes Russell led the Lady Vols with 17 points. Forward Schaquilla Nunn contributed 15 points off the bench, leading the team with six offensive rebounds and nine defensive rebounds. Alexa Middleton contributed 14 points and got the starting nod at guard.
Alabama bullied the Lady Vols on the glass, out-rebounding them 53-38. The Crimson Tide had 22 offensive rebounds to Tennessee's ten.
The Lady Vols will look to snap their two-game skid when Arkansas comes to Knoxville Sunday, Feb. 19. Tip off is scheduled for 3 p.m. on the SEC Network.