Ariel Massengale out 2-3 weeks

The Lady Vols will play the toughest stretch of the season to date without their freshman point guard Ariel Massengale, who dislocated a finger Thursday at practice and is expected to be out two to three weeks.

Ariel Massengale, who recently earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors, has been a vital part of the team because of her poise with the ball in her hands.

Tennessee will now face four consecutive road games – three against ranked teams – with Massengale recovering from the injury, beginning with DePaul on Sunday afternoon (1:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPNU) in Madison Square Garden in New York.

Practice was very close to be completed when the injury occurred as the Lady Vols were ending the session with a scrimmage. Massengale was attempting to scoop up a loose ball near the sideline and with her momentum going forward – she had scooted from the opposite baseline where the ball first squirted loose – she landed on her hand, causing the injury to the middle finger on her left hand.

The scrimmage was halted and the players shot free throws while medical personnel assisted Massengale, who was taken for diagnostic tests. Her teammates gathered at center court for a post-practice prayer led by junior Taber Spani.

"It's one of those things that happens playing sports," senior forward Alicia Manning said. "You've just got to take the punch. Other people may have to step up. Good thing we've got a deep bench."

Jenny Moshak, the team's chief of sports medicine, said the injury typically takes 14 to 21 days to heal. That timetable means Massengale misses the next four games – DePaul, Rutgers, UCLA and Stanford – and would return after the team reassembles following the Christmas break.

Sophomore Meighan Simmons spent a lot of time at point guard last season, and senior Briana Bass also is available at the spot. Simmons got additional repetitions at the position Thursday in practice because Bass had a final exam during the scheduled practice time.

Exams are now finished for the players, and the team will hold a short practice Friday morning and then leave for New York.

Manning is graduating a semester early with a degree in sports management and will attend the ceremony in the arena Friday morning and then dash across the sidewalk to Pratt Pavilion for practice.

"Practice is at 10:30, and graduation is at 9 so it's going to be a little tight," Manning said. "I'll wear my practice jersey underneath my cloak."

Manning will enroll this spring in a master's program in kinesiology with a concentration in sports psychology, giving the Lady Vols three graduate students on the team, along with Glory Johnson and Vicki Baugh.

VIDEO COVERAGE

Practice clips

Pat Summitt

Vicki Baugh

Alicia Manning


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