Tennessee Takes Title, Beating Georgia, 83-65

From Associated Press

Tennessee was bigger and stronger, Georgia was quicker. In this case, bigger was better.

Tennessee dominated inside and got some inspired defense from Latina Davis in beating Southeastern Conference rival Georgia, 83-65, Sunday night to win its fourth NCAA championship.

Tennessee now has twice as many national titles as any other school in 15 years of NCAA play. The Vols won their previous championships in 1987, 1989 and 1991--all under Coach Pat Summitt.

Tennessee’s players donned the traditional championship caps and pranced around the court in celebration. Summitt watched calmly from the sideline and chatted with a television reporter.


Tennessee’s Michelle Marciniak, who had 10 points, five assists and two steals, was named the outstanding player in the Final Four. She scored 21 points in a semifinal victory over defending champion Connecticut on Friday night.

Abby Conklin helped with some timely three-point shooting for the Vols, who had lost at Georgia, 77-71, during the regular season. Tennessee outrebounded Georgia, 63-30, in that game and enjoyed another big edge on the boards Sunday night, this time, 54-39.

That total included 21 offensive rebounds, which led to 17 second-chance points.

Davis, Tennessee’s leading scorer in the tournament, stood out with her defense by shutting down Georgia’s All-America guard, Saudia Roundtree. Roundtree had promised Coach Andy Landers a national championship when she signed with Georgia out of junior college two years ago, but she couldn’t make it happen.

The 5-foot-7 senior, who had 63 points in her two previous tournament games, rarely was able to get Georgia into its transition game and scored only eight points on 3-for-14 shooting. She went scoreless in the second half.

Freshman Chamique Holdsclaw led Tennessee (32-4) with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Tiffani Johnson also scored 16 for the Vols and Conklin had 14, including four three-pointers. Pashen Thompson had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

La’Keshia Frett led Georgia (28-5) with 25 points but had only seven in the second half. Tracy Henderson scored 16.


Ahead, 42-37, at halftime despite shooting only 43 percent, Tennessee opened the second half with a 15-5 run to increase its lead to 57-41. Conklin hit two three-pointers during that stretch and four other Tennessee players scored as the Vols took control.

They also were doing it on the defensive end. Roundtree got nothing against Davis and Frett, who missed only two shots in the first half, didn’t get a second-half basket until scoring on a putback with only 1:59 remaining. By then, it was over.

It was such a frustrating half for Frett that at one point she missed a point-blank shot, got the rebound and then missed again from the same spot. Roundtree was equally frustrated. She had six assists but also six turnovers.

A 7-0 run that included a three-pointer by Kedra Holland drew Georgia to within nine at 57-48, and the Bulldogs trailed, 61-52, after Henderson’s basket with 11:52 to play.

But that’s as close as they would get. Tennessee scored the next seven points for a 68-52 lead, and as the Vols kept pounding away inside, the lead kept growing. An 11-2 run made it 81-60 and Georgia was finished, relegated to its second loss in as many appearances in the title game. The Bulldogs lost to Old Dominion in the 1985 final.

The first half was a shootout between Frett and whoever was hot for Tennessee at the moment. But Frett alone wasn’t enough and Tennessee never trailed after Holdsclaw converted a three-point play with 12:33 left to break a 14-14 tie.


The Vols stretched the lead to 28-19 with the help of five points by Pashen Thompson and four by reserve Brynae Laxton.

Frett then got it going, hitting five consecutive jumpers and scoring 10 of Georgia’s 12 points during a four-minute stretch. But two three-pointers by Conklin helped Tennessee keep its cushion and Johnson’s basket inside with 19 seconds remaining left the Vols ahead by five.

Roundtree missed five of her first six shots before hitting two jumpers late in the half. She finished the half 3-for-9 with five turnovers and forced a couple of shots.

Frett, though, could hardly miss and made eight of 10 first-half shots. But she was only 2-for-8 in the second half.

Marciniak, Holdsclaw and Johnson made the all-Final Four team, along with Frett and Roundtree.