Tennessee Gets Ticket Punched
Shanna Zolman broke out of a slump with a couple of big baskets down the stretch, Nicky Anosike scored 14 points and Tennessee held off Rutgers, 59-49, on Tuesday night to earn a berth to the Final Four.
Tennessee (30-4) will play Michigan State in the national semifinals Sunday in Indianapolis. The Spartans defeated Stanford, 76-69, to advance.
Tennessee advanced to the Final Four for the fourth year in a row and 16th time under Coach Pat Summitt, who won her 882nd game.
“They were tough down the stretch,” Summitt said. “We had some big plays from a lot of different people.”
Tennessee survived despite going more than 12 minutes without a basket. But they managed to avenge a December loss to the Scarlet Knights (28-7).
Cappie Pondexter scored 25 points and made nine of the Scarlet Knights’ 18 baskets, but she had little help until it was too late. The Scarlet Knights’ physical defense kept them in contention until the end.
Rutgers seemed poised to pull within three on Matee Ajavon’s shot from the left side, until it was reviewed by officials who determined it was a two-point basket. That made it 49-45. Then Essence Carson had a steal for Rutgers and was fouled by Loree Moore.
Carson made the free throws -- her first two points -- pulling Rutgers within 49-47 with 1:08 left.
Tennessee, though, made its last 12 free throws and that was the cushion the Volunteers needed to win their 12th in a row.
Tennessee made 29 of 35 free throws; Rutgers was eight for 13.
Rutgers was denied its first Final Four trip since 2000 and Coach C. Vivian Stringer’s fourth trip overall.