Nashville – In a game where the Lady Vols never gave up and battled back from large deficits multiple times, Tennessee could not top the Gamecocks in the third round of the SEC Women’s Tournament.

This was a game that saw the Gamecocks take multiple large double digit leads in both the first and second half. South Carolina would have a lead as large as 16 in the first half and their largest lead of the game was 18 and came with 7:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Tennessee would battle back in both the first and second half.

UT was able to cut the USC lead to 11 at the half and had it within single digits in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Vols could just never get all the way back. Every time it looked like UT had gained the momentum and could take control, the Gamecocks found a way to push Tennessee back down to the bottom of the hill.

This one doesn’t come down to one player, this was a team loss for UT. Don’t think I am saying A’ja Wilson actually playing in part three of this series between UT and USC didn’t make an impact. 

Wilson is not held in regards of being one of the best, if not the best player in the country because she doesn’t make an impact when she is on the floor.

She makes an impact 100 percent of the time when she is on the floor.

What I am saying is she was not the deciding factor in this one, at least in my opinion.

Yes she had 24 points and 12 rebounds, but that was not the deciding factor in my mind. Despite Wilson playing and having a double-double this loss was a team loss by UT and the Lady Vols cost themselves the game.

Wilson helped and she made an impact, mostly in her leadership on the court for South Carolina. However, UT still could have won this game or kept it closer with Wilson playing.

Tennessee got to the free throw line 16 times and shot 81 percent, not great, but not bad either. The Lady Vols won the turnover battle causing 27 turnovers by South Carolina and only turning it over 11 times themselves.

UT realed in 27 offensive rebounds and only lost the overall rebounding battle by seven as USC had 50 to UT’s 43. Tennessee even had 11 assists, all stats that one would think belonged to the winning team or at least that it was a one or two possession game.

Tennessee even had Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell in double digits on the scoreboard, but yet they lost and one stat can tell you the whole story as to why they lost.

KNOXVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 10, 2017 – Guard Jaime Nared #31 of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics

It was not A’ja Wilson’s stat line it was the fact that UT shot just 27 percent from the floor.

When you only make 23 of 86 field goals it is very hard to win a game.

One might think this means Tennessee had to settle for deep shots and bad shots, but they didn’t.

UT did a good job of getting to the basket and did a good job of getting good shots, they just couldn’t find a way to make them to fall.

Tennessee had 36 points in the paint, but that could have been a lot more as most of those 86 shot attempts took place in the paint.

The bottom line here was that UT did a lot right, they did a lot of things that normally win you a ballgame. They did everything, in fact, except put the ball in the hoop. It’s the team with the most points on the scoreboard when the final buzzer sounds that wins the game. When you shoot 86 times and only make 27 percent of those shots it’s hard to be the team with the most points at the end of the game.

It wasn’t just one player for Tennessee either yes, having to play most of the first half without Rennia Davis because she was in foul trouble hurt UT, but not as much as Davis (5 points, 2-7 FG), Evina Westbrook (8 points, 4-15 FG) and Meme Jackson (5 points, 2-13 FG) hurt Tennessee.

This one is as simple as UT not being able to score on good shots and good looks. Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick even mentioned with what UT was able to do against South Carolina how did Tennessee not win the game.

“I look at it, you look at it and you go, how, you wonder how we lost the game. We didn’t do it on just catching shoot and jump shots away from the basket. We attacked the basket, the shot just wouldn’t go,” said Warlick after the game.

Adding, “I don’t think we played our best and I’m looking at this (the stats sheet) and I think…we could have played better, but you got to put the ball in the basket.”

It comes down to being as simple as that, just not being able to put the ball in the hoop.

Tennessee will now have to sit and wait to see what seed they get and who they will face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Women’s Tournament selection show will air on ESPN on Monday Mar. 12th at 7 p.m. ET.