Defense put the Lady Vols in a position to finish strong against the No. 18 Georgia Lady Bulldogs at home on Sunday for the Live Pink, Bleed Orange game. Balanced scoring was overshadowed by Lady Vol redshirt senior, Mercedes Russell writing her name in the Tennessee history books.
"I keep telling you all, she's one of the smartest kids to ever put on a Lady Vol uniform," said head coach Holly Warlick after the game.
Russell became just the sixth Lady Vol to grab 1,000 rebounds in her career on Rocky Top. She added her 42nd double-double as well, moving her just three behind Tennessee legend, Candace Parker. Russell fell just short of adding one more note to the ledger; 1,500 career points. The center finished the game with 1,499 for her career. Her first point against Alabama on Thursday in Thompson-Boling will push her into that historic territory.
As for the rest of the game, Rennia Davis, Jaime Nared and Meme Jackson contributed double digit points, bringing some balance to the scoring effort. The defense is what really stood out, however. 46 points is the fewest total points a SEC opponent has scored against the Lady Vols this season. Georgia scored just six points in the second quarter.
"I think our length was disruptive during the course of the game," said Jaime Nared. She led all scorers with 15 points, while stealing the ball four times.
"We've been really really good at focusing in on one game at a time," said Warlick. "We talked a lot about Georgia being ahead of us in the standings."
It was an important day off the court for the program as well. In its annual Live Pink, Bleed Orange game, Holly Warlick's charity, Champions for a Cause, donated $10,000 to the UT Breast Center, while raising breast cancer awareness throughout the game and honoring survivors.
Senior Jaime Nared said, playing in the Live Pink, Bleed Orange game meant a lot to her. Nared's aunt battled breast cancer last year.
The Lady Vols will try to win its fifth game in a row on Thursday, when the team plays Alabama in Thompson-Boling arena at 6:30 p.m.