No. 10 Tennessee 74, Oklahoma 59
At the start of her first year as Tennessee’s head coach, Holly
Warlick could not have envisioned how Kamiko Williams would impact
her team on the sport’s biggest stage.
On both ends of the court Sunday night, Williams left her
imprint to put the Lady Vols one win away from the Final Four.
Williams scored 15 points and led Tennessee’s defense against
Oklahoma star Aaryn Ellenberg, leading the Lady Vols to a 74-59
victory in the regional semifinals of the NCAA women’s
”She’s just taken this team, she’s wrapped her arms around this
team and said, `Let’s go,”’ Warlick said. ”At the beginning of
the year, if I had to say Kamiko was going to be our leader, I
would say no. But our players love her.”
In the first half, Williams had 13 points, three assists and two
steals as second-seeded Tennessee (27-7) opened a 20-point
She also played the lead role in limiting Ellenberg to a
1-for-11 shooting start that didn’t get much better after
”It’s not a secret. I think Kamiko Williams is an extremely
talented young lady,” Warlick said. ”When she puts it all
together and she gets a great mindset, she can do just about
Tennessee will face No. 5 seed Louisville on Tuesday night in
the round of eight. Louisville upset No. 1 Baylor 82-81.
The Lady Vols have lost in the regional finals the past two
seasons and haven’t made it to the Final Four since winning the
national title in 2008.
Tennessee also went through an Oklahoma City regional on its way
to the championship that season, with Candace Parker leading the
Sharane Campbell scored 22 points and Joanna McFarland had 14
for No. 6 seed Oklahoma (24-11), which got an upset to make it to
the round of 16, but couldn’t capitalize on a friendly home
environment in the Oklahoma City regional. McFarland also matched
her career best with 16 rebounds.
About 9 minutes into the game, the Sooners were already down by
11 – having yielded eight straight points – when starting point
guard Morgan Hook was tripped up by Meighan Simmons and hit her
head on the way down.
She was helped to the bench by a trainer and sat out the rest of
the game with concussion-like symptoms.
”That was one of those where you’re like, `Really? Really?
Seriously?’ After everything, now we’re going to drop another one
right here in the Sweet 16?” said Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale, who
had managed to guide her team this far despite losing four players
to season-ending injuries.
Oklahoma was already down to eight scholarship players after a
series of four season-ending injuries, including team captain
Whitney Hand’s knee surgery. Two volleyball players were brought in
at midseason for practice help.
There simply wasn’t enough firepower to keep up with the deeper
SEC regular-season champs, who got 13 points from Cierre Burdick
and 12 apiece from Izzy Harrison and Taber Spani while holding the
Sooners to 31 percent shooting.
Oklahoma made just 5 of 29 from 3-point range and got just six
points from reserves, compared to 30 for the Lady Vols.
”This team has done incredible things this year in the face of
situations where most people would just succumb and say, `All
right, let’s get them next time,”’ Coale said. ”Not these
The Lady Vols dissected Oklahoma’s defense early on, getting
easy baskets right under the hoop and putting together a 20-3 run
to take control while keeping the Sooners’ hometown crowd from
Williams hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get the run
going, and her second layup in the stretch pushed Tennessee’s
advantage to 36-16 with 4:54 to go before the half.
Even when the Sooners were able to force eight straight misses
to start the second half, they couldn’t dent Tennessee’s lead.
Nicole Griffin and Aaryn Ellenberg each had baskets during the
Lady Vols’ 4 1/2-minute dry spell, but that only got the deficit
down to 44-31 before three straight makes pushed it right back up
The Sooners started the second half 3 for 21 from the field,
with Tennessee’s lead growing to 63-35.
”We wanted to set the tempo early and dictate to them that we
were going to be the ones pressuring, and then we were trying to
get them out of their offense because they’re a great offensive
team when they are able to run their sets,” Spani said.
Ellenberg missed 14 of her first 16 shots, including her first
seven 3-point attempts. She made a couple of baskets late to finish
with 13 points, but had nowhere near the same impact as she did
while averaging 24.5 points in the first two rounds of the
Simmons, Tennessee’s leading scorer, was 1 for 15 and had just
five points but got much more help.
Harrison also had eight rebounds and three blocks, making her
biggest contribution in two injury-plagued months.
She missed nine games in that span, including the SEC
tournament, with injuries to both of her knees. Harrison also had
eight rebounds and three blocks.