The fourth ranked Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team tasted its first defeat of the college basketball season on Thursdaynight and Coach Holly Warlick is hoping her players don't like the taste. Texas A&M handed the Lady Vols a 79-76 setback in overtime in College Station, Texas in a game that saw Tennessee outscore the Aggies 8-1 in the final few moments of regulation to force the overtime period. The Lady Vols even took a 74-70 lead in overtime before Texas A&M pulled the game out with free throws.
Actually, each team could manage just one field goal apiece in overtime, but it was a freshman mistake committed by freshman Evina Westbrook that sealed the deal. Westbrook fouled the Aggies' Danni Williams on a three-point attempt with just seconds remaining and Tennessee leading 76-74. Williams sank all three free throws giving A&M a one point lead 77-76.
Tennessee played the ball in with a little more than seven seconds left, but Westbrooks committed the Lady Vols 16th turnover of the game and the Aggies iced the game with another couple of free throws.
"I said the turnovers were going to catch up with us," Coach Warlick said after the game. "We have to do a lot better job of that."
She better hope her team does a better job on turnovers because next up for the Lady Vols is an SEC road game at defending national champ South Carolina on Sunday. Otherwise Tennessee could be staring at a two game losing skid.
Tennessee has four freshmen on the ten player roster; a result of Coach Warlick bringing in the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. Those freshmen play a lot for Tennessee and the talent level improvement was made evident by the Lady Vols 15-0 start. Fans of Tennessee women's basketball program have been excited since the season started when she brought in that talented freshman class. That excitement is a welcome change in Knoxville. For the last couple of years, Holly Warlick has taken a lot of heat because she had not been able to match the success of the legendary Pat Summitt. You never want to be the one to replace a coaching icon; you want to be the one to replace the one who replaced the icon.
Other than the success over the past decade by Geno Auriemma at UConn, there is a tremendous amount of parity. Even last year when UConn was upset in the national semi-finals by Mississippi State, with South Carolina winning it all, parity is a sure thing. I believe dynasties such as UConn's and twenty years ago with the Lady Vols, will soon be a thing of the past in women's college hoops. There are no more real dynasties in men's basketball and women's hoops are headed in the same direction.
I hope that Tennessee's fans will be as patient as Coach Holly Warlick has been, because it takes a lot of patience to deal with those freshman mistakes. . The one thing you can count on about freshmen is the fact that they soon become sophomores and that's a good thing.