Alabama secures back-to-back wins over Tennessee for first time in program historyBy Molly Catherine Walsh | 02/19/2017 11:40pm
Diamond DeShields was laying in the middle of the basketball court as she stared up at the jumbotron. She remained immobile and finally a whistle was blown to stop the play with 5:50 left in the first period of the game. Tennessee coaches and trainers hustled onto the hardwood to tend to the fallen player.
The University of Tennessee Lady Vols’ leading scorer was not so much as lifting her head off the ground and the game had barely started. DeShields’ teammates crowded around her while they kissed her forehead and held her hand as she was placed on a stretcher and taken off the court.
“It was a scary moment for us, right now we don’t have an update but we are praying and hoping for the best for her as our teammate,” Tennessee center Mercedes Russell said.. “After that moment we talked about how we had to pick it up. At that point they had a bunch of offensive rebounds against us and our defense needed to step up. I wouldn’t say it threw us off because we had people come in and step up but her presence on the court is tough not to have both on the offensive and the defensive end.”
DeShields was taken to the hospital for “precautionary reasons” according to a statement released on the official Lady Vol Basketball Twitter account.
The Lady Vols (16-10, 7-6 Southeastern conference) fell to the Crimson Tide (16-10, 4-9 SEC) in a 65-57 decision. The energy was not there for Tennessee on Thursday when Alabama was able to get 53 rebounds throughout the game while Tennessee only got 38.
“I thought our initial defense that we had was good, but we gave up offensive rebounds and so they had second and third chance points and that’s tough,” Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick said. “I thought we should have gotten the ball inside more, guards did not shot the ball very well from the outside. The bottom line is we did not take care of the ball very well on the defensive end. We only got 10 offensive rebounds and that concerns me. It wasn’t anything we didn’t know, we just didn’t take care of our business.”
Russell led the team in points, scoring 17 total points. Tennessee forward, Shaquilla Nunn led the team defensively and had 15 total rebounds. Nunn began her day as a graduate student at 5 a.m. in Knoxville, Tennessee. She woke up and attended an employment law class she could not miss before boarding a commercial flight by herself to travel to Alabama.
Alabama guard, Coco Knight led the team in scoring and had 18 total points while forward Ashley Williams had 11 rebounds. For the Crimson Tide, the mission was to maintain steady energy and to ensure that offense and defense coincided throughout all four quarters.
“Our hearts go out to Diamond DeShields and we’re praying for her that she’s safe, but we couldn’t let that affect our intensity. We had to keep going to the boards, making shots, and our effort and energy just needed to stay the same,” Alabama guard Hannah Cook said.
Knight laughed and high-fived Cook while she praised her for her leadership in the moments after DeShields left the court with an injury.
“Hannah [Cook] did tell us that Diamond was getting carried off and just because she’s out we have to keep the energy up and keep going hard. That was great leadership.” Knight said.
The Alabama Crimson Tide will play the Auburn Tigers (15-11, 5-7) this Sunday at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Alabama. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.