COLLEGE BASKETBALL : NCAA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP GAME : Free Throws Power Tennessee Past Virginia in Overtime, 70-67

From Associated Press

Percentages said Dena Head was the right player to foul, and she was--from Tennessee’s viewpoint.

Head, a 72% shooter from the line, made two free throws to tie the score, 60-60, in regulation, then made five more in overtime to give Tennessee a 70-67 victory over Virginia on Sunday for the NCAA women’s basketball championship.

It was the first overtime championship game in the 10 years that the NCAA has been sponsoring a women’s tournament.


Tennessee’s All-American, Daedra Charles, fouled out with two minutes to go in the overtime period, and Head said that made the Lady Volunteers play harder.

“We haven’t been a good free-throw shooting team this year, but when Daedra went out, I looked in the team’s eyes and I saw fire. I dedicated those free throws to her,” Head said.

“We felt confident going into the overtime. We seem to be able to do what it takes. We’ve done it all year. This turned out just the way we wanted it.”

Virginia was careful to avoid fouling Jody Adams, 82% from the line this season.

“It really doesn’t matter--just like it doesn’t matter how you win. We’re the ones that got the big trophy,” Adams said.

Virginia led, 60-55, with 1:25 to go in regulation when Head was fouled by Tonya Cardoza and converted a three-point play.

Tammi Reiss and Dawn Staley both missed with 48 seconds remaining in regulation, but Tennessee couldn’t get the ball across midcourt against the Virginia press and had to call time out.


With seven seconds left in regulation, Staley fouled Head, who made both free throws to tie it.

“When we went into overtime, I thought we’d win it because we usually respond to pressure,” said Virginia’s Heide Burge, who attended Palos Verdes High and who scored eight points before fouling out. “We won a three-overtime game against North Carolina State, so we can’t blame this on anyone but ourselves.”

Cardoza gave Virginia a brief lead in overtime, but Head made two more free throws, Peggy Evans scored on a rebound and Head sank the first of two free throws to make it 66-62.

After Cardoza’s basket, Virginia (31-3) got its only points from Staley, a follow of her own miss with 1:01 left and a three-pointer with four seconds remaining.

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said she switched to a zone defense in overtime, and that provided the key to the victory.

“I’m not a zone coach, but I thought we needed a change. We didn’t score, but they weren’t scoring, either,” Summitt said.


Virginia missed the front ends of three one-and-ones in overtime, and Heather Burge missed both shots on a two-shot foul.

“You can’t worry about a thing like that,” Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan said. “You hope we step to the line and knock them down, but today we didn’t.

“The players who missed them usually make them.”

“We held our own rebounding with them, but they won the basketball game,” said Heather Burge, who is Heide Burge’s twin sister and who scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. “It was very physical and obviously any team could have won it. You can’t put your finger on any one thing other than missing the free throws that we could have done better.”

Tennessee (30-5) is 6-1 over Virginia in postseason play, including a loss in the Assn. for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women tournament in 1981.

It was the third NCAA championship for Tennessee, which won in 1987 and 1989, was runner-up in 1984 and tied for third in 1988 and 1986. Tennessee also lost in the AIAW championship game in 1980 and ’81.

Tennessee ended Virginia’s season in NCAA play five times--in 1984, ‘86, ‘87, ’89 and this year.


Virginia’s only victory over the Lady Volunteers in the NCAA tournament was in last year’s regional finals, 79-75 in overtime.

“This hurts a lot because we worked so hard for it,” said Heide Burge, a sophomore. “We’re going to use this as motivation. We’re not going to give up. This was a good year.”

Staley, voted the Final Four’s outstanding player, had 28 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals.