Lady Vols to face UCLA in NCAA tourney

Tennessee's Rennia Davis drives toward the basket during the Lady Vols' home win against Auburn on Feb. 14.

KNOXVILLE - Well, the streak lives on for the Tennessee women's basketball team.

Even if the suspense was taken away long before it was supposed to.

The Lady Volunteers (19-12) were awarded Monday an 11 seed for the NCAA tournament's Albany regional and will face sixth-seeded UCLA (20-12) on Saturday in the second game of the day at College Park, Maryland. Third-seeded Maryland and 14th-seeded Radford will play at 11 a.m.

Louisville is the top seed in the region, while Connecticut is the second seed.

Tennessee - the only program in the country to have played in every NCAA women's tournament - was in danger of being left out this year due to an inconsistent regular season. The Lady Vols played 11 of the 64 teams in the tournament field and won six times, taking two wins over Auburn and one each over Belmont, Clemson, Missouri and Texas.

They also endured a six-game losing streak and fell in the home finale to Vanderbilt, which had never won in Knoxville in 34 tries.

The suspense was lifted when ESPN mistakenly leaked the brackets prior to the scheduled 7 p.m. selection show. The company admitted the mistake and chose to officially release the brackets two hours before the scheduled time.

"Do I think we deserve to be in the (NCAA) tournament? Absolutely," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said after her team fell to Mississippi State in the Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinals. "We played a tough schedule and grinded it out. We got on a six-game losing streak, but we stepped up and competed. We're a young group that continued to get better.

"So do I think we deserve a chance? Absolutely. I don't have any friends on the committee; I wish I did, but this team has a no-quit attitude, and I thought we did that today. We battled, we just couldn't get it done."

Now her team has at least one more chance.

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at