Tennessee pulled away from Dayton in the second half to survive and advance with a 66-57 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
The Lady Vols will face Louisville in the second round on Monday.
Shaquilla Nunn fought through a pair of Flyers defenders for a tough and-one off an assist from Diamond DeShields to push Tennessee's lead to 11 in the fourth quarter. That bucket gave Nunn a double-double, she finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
"We don't win the game if she doesn't get 15 rebounds and she shoots 6 for 10. She just competed," head coach Holly Warlick said. "Because we were getting good looks, and then that second quarter
the shots weren't falling, and I just thought ‐‐ then Jamie Nared got into foul trouble. So I
thought Schaquilla was just absolutely huge."
DeShields then drained a long jumper to extend the lead to 14 and put the game away. The redshirt junior had an efficient game, scoring 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting and dishing out five assists with just one turnover.
"When you're on the big stage, you can't shy away from that," said DeShields. "I've seen my brother in Cooperstown and on numerous big stages. I've seen my dad play on numerous big stages. Just that competitiveness runs in our family. So just never to shy away from it, attack it, and be who you are, no matter where you're playing."
Diamond's father is Delino DeShields who played 13 seasons of major league baseball and currently manages the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Delino Jr. is the center fielder for the Texas Rangers.
Tennessee began the game on an 18-4 run and led 20-9 at the end of the first quarter with DeShields contributing 10 points.
Dayton shot just 15.8 percent from the floor and 1-for-9 from three-point range in the first quarter.
After starting the game shooting 1-of-16, the Flyers warmed up and made 9 of their final 15 first-half shots to head into the locker room tied at 29.
Dayton made seven straight shots through the 8:40 mark of the third to keep it a tight game.
The Lady Vols turned to Mercedes Russell and the 6-foot-6 center scored 8 points in the first four minutes of the third. Russell finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Dayton went cold around the same time Mercedes got hot, hitting just two of its last 14 shots in the quarter.
Tennessee will take on Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday. The Lady Vols have now advanced past the first round in 35 of their 36 NCAA Tournament appearances (and have appeared in every NCAA tourney).
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