Northwestern State falls 70-46 to Lady Vols

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 22, 2014 at 9:55 pm •  Published: March 22, 2014
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Northwestern State capped a season full of surprises by threatening to produce the biggest stunner of all.

The Lady Demons can only wonder what might have resulted if they'd hit a few more open shots.

Seeking to become only the second No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, Northwestern State was tied with Tennessee early in the second half before the Lady Vols pulled away for an opening-round 70-46 victory.

"We didn't try to focus on what other people thought was a mismatch," Northwestern State forward Trudy Armstead said. "We just tried to come out and compete as much as possible."

The Lady Vols (28-5) won despite scoring just four points and making no baskets in the last eight minutes of the first half. Northwestern State also struggled to shoot the ball and went just 3 of 19 from 3-point range.

Northwestern State had to deliver from the perimeter to have any chance at pulling the upset because of Tennessee's prohibitive size advantage. Tennessee outrebounded Northwestern State 47-27.

"I told them last night we weren't going to grow six inches overnight," Northwestern State co-coach Brooke Stoehr said.

Tennessee withstood an illness to head coach Holly Warlick, who said she came down with a stomach illness at about 2 a.m. Warlick said she initially feared she might not even be able to coach Saturday, but she made it to the game after undergoing IV treatments.

Warlick missed the team's morning shootaround. She joined her team for the game and sat on an orange stool during the first half while assistant coach Kyra Elzy stood and shouted instructions. Warlick stood throughout the second half and was much more animated as Tennessee gradually pulled away for its 14th win in its last 15 games.

"That was my choice, to sit in the first half," Warlick said. "I was still a little lightheaded. And then, I just couldn't sit there any longer."

Northwestern State (21-13), trying to become the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed since Harvard stunned Stanford in 1998, forced a 22-22 tie early in the second half before the Lady Vols scored 12 straight points to seize control.

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