JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Diamond DeShields scored 15 points, Jaime Nared added 11 and Tennessee bolstered its postseason resume by beating Arkansas 68-51 on Thursday in the Southeastern Conference women’s tournament.
The seventh-seeded Lady Vols advanced to play No. 2 seed and 15th-ranked Texas A&M on Friday.
Tennessee can only hope to play with the same intensity it did against the 10th-seeded Razorbacks (12-18). The Lady Vols (18-12) opened up a double-digit lead in the first quarter and really pulled away in the third. DeShields scored eight straight points late in the third as the Lady Vols extended their advantage to 52-35.
For lengthy stretches in both halves, Tennessee looked every bit like an eight-time national champion and nothing like the team that set a school record for losses this season and dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since 1985.
Although the Lady Vols lost eight of their final 14 regular-season games, they still appeared to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. A loss to Arkansas, though, surely would have weakened their chances.
DeShields, Nared and company never let it seem like a possibility, leading from start to finish in a game that wasn’t even really as close as the final margin of victory.
Jordan Reynolds chipped in 10 points for Tennessee, and the Lady Vols’ bench finished with 21 points.
Devin Cosper led the Razorbacks with 20 points and Jessica Jackson added 12.