Forward Daedra Charles scored 14 of her 16 points during the second half Saturday in New Orleans, giving Tennessee a 68-60 victory over defending champion Stanford and a berth opposite Virginia in today’s championship game (1 p.m. PST, Channel 2) of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Virginia--a 61-55 winner over Connecticut in the other semifinal Saturday--beat Tennessee in overtime in the East Regional last season, depriving the Lady Volunteers of a chance to play before a home crowd in the Final Four at Knoxville.
Stanford, after taking an 18-17 lead with 5:32 remaining in the first half, was ahead or tied for the next 25 minutes, leading by as many as seven points.
Tennessee rallied with strong inside play of Charles and took its first lead with 4:39 remaining on reserve center Peggy Evans’ three-point play. The Lady Volunteers (29-5) then scored eight of their final 12 points from the free-throw line to seal their third victory of the season over the Cardinal (26-6).
Guards Jody Adams and Dena Head each scored 15 points for Tennessee. Forward Kelly Dougherty led Stanford with 15 points.
Stanford played without 6-foot-3 forward Julie Zeilstra, who pulled a calf muscle warming up before the game apparently while compensating for an injured right Achilles’ tendon. The Cardinal had lost 6-3 forward Trisha Stevens in the West Regional because of a knee injury.
Virginia 61, Connecticut 55--Forward Tonya Cardoza made four free throws in the final 22 seconds to help send the Cavaliers (30-2) into the championship game.
Virginia (30-2) led, 34-24, at halftime and increased the margin to 45-31 as center Heather Burge scored 10 of her 13 points.
Connecticut (29-5) took advantage of 35% shooting by Virginia to cut the deficit to 55-53 with 28 seconds remaining. But Cardoza, who led Virginia with 16 points, put the game away with her free-throw shooting.