After a nine-year title drought, Tennessee and coach Pat Summitt are NCAA champions.
The Lady Vols captured an elusive seventh national title Tuesday night, beating Rutgers to the ball for second and third shots in a 59-46 win to reclaim their customary place above all other programs.
Candace Parker scored 17 points to lead the Volunteers (34-3), but the smooth All-American got plenty of help from Shannon Bobbitt and a supporting cast of less-heralded teammates, who too often this season stood around and watched her.
Not this time.
The Lady Vols, trophy-less in their past five tournament visits, wanted this title - badly. Almost from the outset, they outworked the young Scarlet Knights (27-9), who waited until the final game of an improbable tournament run under coach C. Vivian Stringer to show their inexperience.
After building a 16-point lead and then holding off a late push by Rutgers, the Lady Vols could finally celebrate, dribbling out the final 30 seconds under the Rutgers basket. When the final horn sounded, Dominique Redding flung the ball high enough to hit the scoreboard as the Lady Vols, some in tears, danced at midcourt as orange, blue and gold confetti fell from above.