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One title to go?
Lady Vols add tournament crown to season championship
Posted: Monday March 01, 1999 01:07 AM
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Another year, another Southeastern Conference tournament title for Tennessee.
Tamika Catchings scored 18 of her 24 points in the second half and Chamique Holdsclaw added 19 as the second-ranked Lady Vols beat No. 14 Georgia 85-69 Sunday for their ninth SEC tournament championship overall and fifth this decade.
"I'm just glad we won," said Holdsclaw, who added her third SEC tournament title. "I'm ready to get back to school."
Whether it turns out to be an omen for the three-time defending national champions remains to be seen. Half of the Lady Vols' six national titles have followed SEC tourney victories.
It didn't look like Tennessee (28-2) would win its second straight tournament title early.
Georgia (23-6) led by nine in the first half and was up 40-37 at halftime by outdoing the Lady Vols at what they do better than anyone in the country -- shooting. The Lady Bulldogs hit 55 percent in the half (18-of-33) compared to Tennessee's 39 percent.
Then Tennessee turned up the pressure and the volume from a capacity orange crowd and wound up outrebounding Georgia 42-30 overall and forcing 19 turnovers in the final 31 minutes.
"They picked up their defensive intensity and pounded the glass," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. "It's really a great team win, a great weekend for us. Hopefully, we can go home and get some rest and not forget how we played here in Chattanooga and build on that."
The Lady Vols, who scored the final six points of the first half, opened up the second half with a 22-7 spurt. Georgia hit only two of its first 13 shots with three post players in foul trouble.
Georgia coach Andy Landers had talked with his team about being ready for a run from Tennessee to start the second half. They thought they were ready until the pressure kept coming in waves.
"We didn't have an answer for it," he said.
When the Lady Bulldogs broke through the Tennessee defense and got open looks at the basket, they couldn't sink the shots.
"It was almost like throwing the window open," Landers said. "We could see sunshine, and we got a little bit anxious."
Landers wasn't very happy with the officiating that sent his Lady Bulldogs to the line only nine times and fouled out three players. Tennessee was 14-of-25 at the line.
Catchings scored off a miss by Holdsclaw with 17:37 left for a 42-40 lead, Tennessee's first since five minutes into the game. With Georgia in its shooting drought, the Lady Vols built that lead to 18 in the final two minutes.
Michelle Snow also had 14 points for Tennessee.
Kelly Miller led Georgia with 24 points, and her twin Coco Miller had 19. Tawana McDonald had 13 before fouling out.
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