Lady Vols Stall in Title Tilt

There was no quit in Tennessee against defending champion UConn Tuesday, neither was there any hit.

UT shot a chilly 36 percent from the field, including 4-of-16 from three-point range, and missed a golden opportunity to upset UConn and win its seventh national title. Instead the Lady Huskies scored a 70-61 victory to capture its third straight title and fourth in the last five years. The three straight championships ties a record held by Tennessee while the four in five years sets a record.

A game that was otherwise very even was decided by accuracy as UConn connected on 24-of-51 field goals (47 percent), highlighted by a 7-of-14 performance from beyond the arc. Diana Taurasi led a balanced Lady Husky offense with 17 points and captured MVP honors. But Jessica Moore did the most damage with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting with nine rebounds including a game-high six offensive boards in 30 minutes of action.

Tennessee was paced by Shanna Zolman who scored 19 points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. The sophomore guard made 3-of-6 triples and 4-of-4 free throws. However it wasn't enough to offset an off night by Tasha Butts who made just 1-of-10 from the field and missed all six of her three-point attempts.

Brittany Jackson came off the bench to make an NBA distance trey that pulled the Lady Vols to 50-48 with 9:50 remaining in the game but she finished the contest hitting just 1-of-6 from the field and 1-of-4 from three-point range.

"We could cut it and get it within two, but we could not sustain our game," Summitt said. "I thought they beat us to the ball all night." Tennessee trailed by 17 at 30-13 with 6:29 left in the first half before going on an 11-0 run to trail by only 30-24 at intermission. UT scored the first basket of the second half to extend the run to 13-0. During that stretch UConn was held scoreless for over seven minutes of game action. The Lady Huskies built their cushion back to 10 at 48-38 with 13:02 remaining before the Lady Vols roared back behind a 10-2 run to cut the lead back to a basket. Tennessee had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead but a turnover followed by a couple of ill-advised shots allow UConn to regain command. A layup by Shyra Ely reduced the gap to 59-55 with 3:26 left, but the Lady Huskies made their free throws down the stretch to secure their sixth straight victory over the Lady Vols.

"They're in a lot of pain tonight," Summitt said. "I want the pain to go away so they can realize what they've accomplished this year." Tennessee got solid efforts from seniors Ashley Robinson and LaToya Davis in their last collegiate game. Robinson finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting along with seven rebounds and two blocks. Davis added 10 points and posted game highs with seven assists and four steals. But freshman forward Sidney Spencer, who was averaging 13 points per game during the NCAA Tournament, didn't score against UConn as the Lady Vols got only five points from their bench.

Tennessee's only lead, 6-5, came in the first five minutes of the game. A announced crowd of 18,211 saw the game played at the New Orleans Arena.

UConn (31-4) B. Turner 4-12, 3-6, 12, J. Moore 6-9, 2-2, 14, D. Taurasi 6-11, 2-4, 17, M. Conlon 1-4, 4-4, 7, A. Strother 5-8, 3-3, 14, A. Battle 1-4, 0-0, 3, W. Crockett 1-3, 1-1, 3. Totals: 24-51, 15-20, 70.

3-Point Goals: 7-14 (Taurasi 3-7, Strother 1-2, Turner 1-2, Conlon 1-2, Battle 1-1) Rebounds: 28 (Turner 9, Moore 9), Assists: 15 (Colon 5), Steals: 7 (Turner 2, Moore 2, Conlon 2), Blocks: 2 (Turner 2), Turnovers: 10 (Taurasi 3), Personal Fouls: 10 (Moore 3).

Tennessee (31-4) L. Davis 3-8, 0-0, 6, S. Ely 4-10, 2-4, 10, A. Robinson 6-10, 1-4, 13, T. Butts 1-10, 6-6, 8, S. Zolman 6-11, 4-4, 19, S. Spencer 0-1, 0-0, 0, D. Redding 0-1, 0-0, 0, B. Jackson 1-7, 0-0, 3, Fluker 1-3, 0-0, 2. Totals: 22-61, 13-18, 61.

3-Point Goals: 4-16 (Zolman 3-6, Jackson 1-4, Butts 0-6,) Rebounds: 33 (Zolman 9), Assists: 13 (Davis 7), Steals: 8 (Davis 4), Blocks: 2 (Robinson 2), Turnovers: 11 (Davis 4), Personal Fouls: 18 (Davis 5).   

Inside Tennessee Top Stories