Closer Look: Rutgers-Tennessee
Lady Vols just had too many weapons for Rutgers
Posted: Tuesday April 3, 2007 11:23PM; Updated: Wednesday April 4, 2007 2:59AM
CLEVELAND -- The drought is over.
Nine years after winning a sixth national championship, Tennessee added No. 7 to the trophy case. The Lady Vols did it by beating Rutgers at its own game -- defense. Tennessee forced 18 turnovers and held Rutgers to one of its lowest point totals of the season in a 59-46 win Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Unlike its semifinal game against North Carolina, Tennessee didn't need a comeback to do it. The Lady Vols held onto the ball, turning it over just 12 times. They also had far too many weapons for the Scarlet Knights, whose defense had been so stellar throughout the tournament.
Rutgers worked awfully hard to keep Candace Parker, the most outstanding player of the championship game, in check. She scored 17 points but, more impressively, showed off her passing skills by moving the ball to her teammates. Sidney Spencer and Alberta Auguste benefited in the first half, combining for 17 points as Tennessee took a 29-18 halftime lead.
The perimeter shooting that came so easily for the Scarlet Knights in their semifinal win against LSU was nonexistent, making it more difficult to mount a comeback. Rutgers was 2-for-10 from beyond the three-point line. Tennessee led by as many as 16 before Rutgers made a quick run to get within 50-42 on a three-pointer by Matee Ajavon with 2:32 left, but the Scarlet Knights just couldn't finish the deal.
PLAYER WHO IMPRESSED ME
Tennessee point guard Shannon Bobbitt gets a lot of attention as one of the few junior college players to join Summitt's team, and deservedly so. Bobbitt hit 4-of-8 three-pointers and scored 13 points. Another juco transfer made a big difference on Tuesday. With Candace Parker drawing double coverage, junior Alberta Auguste came off the bench in the first half to help her out. It was Auguste, a transfer from Central Florida Community College, who hit two free throws with 9:26 left in the first half to break a 12-12 tie and put Tennessee out front for good. Auguste was 3-for-4 in the half and finished the game with 10 points and five rebounds.
Beware the national anthem curse. Cleveland's Anne Cochran sang the anthem before the start of the game wearing black and red, Rutgers' colors. Cochran might have been showing a little support for Rutgers, but Parker had a following of her own. Toward the end of the game, a group of young girls in the upper deck began chanting, "We love Candace. We love Candace." The Lady Vols fans love Nicky Anosike, too. With 47.8 seconds left, she left the game to a standing ovation from the orange-clad clan.
Here's a little Cleveland confidential for you: For those who managed to get away from Quickens Arena for a bit, Cleveland offers some of the best dining names of any Final Four. Within a few blocks, you can grab a bite at the Pickwick and Frolic Restaurant, the Winking Lizard and the Harry Buffalo. Don't forget to stop by the Nauti Mermaid for a little seafood.