Tennessee wins second straight women's title

Wednesday, April 9th 2008, 9:42 am
By: News 9

Sports Network

TAMPA, Fla. -- Candace Parker didn't let a dislocated shoulder keep her from her goal -- and Tennessee from its NCAA-best eighth national championship -- scoring 17 points to go along with nine rebounds, as the Lady Vols shut down Stanford's tournament-long offensive juggernaut to capture their second straight national title, 64-48.

"My experience here at Tennessee has been great. I look back at my growth, not only as a player but also just as a person," said a reflective Parker. "And I feel like it's been the best four years of my life."

Head coach Pat Summitt has been around for all eight net-cutting ceremonies -- and this one was a textbook lesson in defense. A Stanford team that had scored 180 points over its last two games was held below 50. The scoring machine Candice Wiggins, the owner of two 40-plus point games in this tournament, struggled to 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

Shannon Bobbitt set the tone early with six quick points as part of her 13- point effort, and Nicky Anosike donated 12 points and eight rebounds for the Lady Vols (36-2), who got revenge for their loss to Stanford earlier this season at Maples Pavilion and won their second straight title. The Lady Vols bested Rutgers in last season's championship game.

Jayne Appel led Stanford (35-4) with 16 points and Kayla Pedersen added seven points with 10 rebounds for the Cardinal, who misfired from beyond the arc (3- for-11) and struggled even more to get shots off, committing 25 turnovers to just 19 made field goals.

Stanford was denied its third national title, winning in 1990 and '92.

Wiggins began the game with a three-pointer, but it was one of the game's unsung stars who shined brightly at the game's outset. Bobbitt connected on a pair of threes, Tennessee made five of its first eight shots from the floor and Parker's layup pushed the Vols to an early 12-7 lead.

Stanford went just over five minutes without a field goal in the game's first 10 minutes, a drought snapped by an up-and-under move by Appel for a 15-9 game.

The Vols increased their advantage to double digits by applying the pressure and speeding up the tempo to take Stanford's big forwards out of the equation. A pair of free throws by Vicki Baugh and a layup by Anosike put the Vols in front 25-15 with just under seven minutes of the clock.

"We knew they were going to be pressuring us and that's their style of play," Wiggins said of Tennessee' defensive philosophy. "They really rely a lot on their defense to get them going. And they're big. They're in passing lanes. So you can't have any sloppy passes. And I think that's what happened in the beginning of the game."

Wiggins second field goal came almost 15 minutes from her first, a slashing layup that cut the deficit to 27-19. Bobbitt's third three of the half moments later gave the Vols their biggest lead at that point at 30-19.

Jillian Harmon's buzzer-beating jumper gave the Cardinal some momentum heading into the locker room despite the 37-29 deficit.

Stanford continued to play sloppy with the ball, committing its 20th turnover in the game's first 29 minutes. Tennessee's lead remained at an arm's length with Baugh's bucket pushing the edge to 55-44 with under eight minutes on the clock.

Baugh came down awkwardly on a drive down the lane late in the second half. She had to be helped off the floor after the non-contact injury and returned with crutches in the final minute.

The Cardinal's wasted offensive trips made it impossible to get over the hump. Parker's bucket pushed the lead to 58-44 with 4:21 to play as the Cardinal were in the midst of an over four-minute scoring drought.