WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Most Tennessee fans probably cringed when Candace Parker grabbed her shoulder in pain after attempting to steal a pass just five minutes into Tuesday’s game.
Alexis Hornbuckle knew better.
“Nah, she’s a solider,” Hornbuckle said. “Well, I was a little bit worried, but when she looked at the bench and waved it off I said, ‘She’ll be all right.’”
Hornbuckle was right. Parker suffered a sublex of her right shoulder in Tennessee’s 78-52 win over Purdue and didn’t even leave the game immediately after the injury occurred. A sublex occurs when the shoulder pops out of the joint but immediately goes back in.
“I sublex my shoulder all the time,” said Parker, who wore an ice bag over her right shoulder in the locker room following the game.
Parker did sit out briefly in the first half and received treatment from athletic trainer Jenny Moshak, who said she was working on Parker’s rotator cuff to fire up the muscles that hold her shoulder in place.
“It’s loose,” Moshak said. “When it gets put in precarious situations, it’s going to talk to her. But she’s loose-jointed. She’s like a Gumby doll.”
Parker still scored 24 points — the 40th straight time she’s totaled double figures — and blocked three shots to give her 33 for her NCAA tournament career.
But if Parker injures her shoulder again or gets into foul trouble like she did against Oral Roberts, freshman Vicki Baugh proved she can soften the blow.
Baugh tied a career high with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting in just 12 minutes before fouling out. She also grabbed five rebounds.
“Just a super job,” Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. “She was instrumental helping us win the SEC championship game against LSU, and she was very active tonight and very efficient offensively. We need that. That’s something that really helps us as far as inside presence.”
Baugh did most of her damage in the second half, scoring eight points to prevent Purdue from ever cutting Tennessee’s lead into the teens.
“Coach always says the bench has to be prepared, because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Baugh said. “I just bring the energy and stay prepared throughout the game.”