Butts' Basket Is Stanford's Casket

Tasha Butts' timing is exquisite: Less than 48 hours after hitting game-winning free throws with 0.2 seconds left to beat Baylor, she hits a game-winning basket with 1.7 seconds left to slay Stanford.

The 62-60 victory in the Midwest Regional final played in Norman, Okla., propels the Lady Vols into their 15th Final Four where they'll open play Sunday against LSU (27-7) in New Orleans. UConn will square off against Minnesota a No. 7 seed and upset winner over Duke in Tuesday's first game. Tennessee (30-3) is the only No. 1 seed to make it to the finals.

Butts' big basket came with the game tied at 60-60 as she spun inside of Nicole Powell after the All-American forward shut down the baseline. Powell tied the game on a leaner with 47 seconds left to cap a game high 31-point, 10-rebound performance. She would also manage to get a shot away before the buzzer that hit the rim before bouncing harmlessly away. Butts nailed a trey with 55 seconds remaining to put the Lady Vols in front 60-58.

Butts led a balanced UT offense with 14 points and five boards. Shyra Ely had 12 points, six rebounds and LaToya Davis contributed 10 points and six assists along with three steals. Freshman Sidney Spencer came off the bench to score nine points.

"That's the way they've played all year," Pat Summitt told an ESPN reporter after the game. "They're passionate about the game and passionate about each other. I'm proud of them."

Stanford didn't have another player score double digits and it got no points off its bench, whereas, UT had 14 points from its reserves.

Like the earlier meeting between these teams which went into overtime, the rematch was closely contended throughout as neither team could gain more than an eight-point advantage. After trailing 26-18 in the first half, Tennessee came roaring back with an 11-0 run to regain the lead. A 3-point goal by Powell put Stanford ahead at intermission 31-29. Over the last 10 minutes of the struggle the teams exchanged baskets, the lead and momentum like two heavyweights in prime form.

Finally tournament-tough UT's hustle and quickness turned the tide as its man defense denied Stanford good looks from the perimeter. The Lady Cardinals who connected on 253 triples coming into the game and were hitting at 40-percent clip made only 3-of-16 from beyond the arc. Stanford was only 1-of-3 from the foul line compared to Tennessee's 3-of-8 on three-point attempts and 9-of-12 free throws. The Lady Vols had one more rebound, 30-29, and three less turnovers than Stanford with 10.

After shooting 37.5 percent from the field in the first half (12 of 32), UT shot 61.9 percent in the second half (13 of 21) to finish at 47.2 percent for the game. The victory was Tennessee's eighth straight vs. Stanford.


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