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finalfourheadercenter.gif (2633bytes) 1997 Champs 1997 chart

Site: Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati

Tournament MVP: Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee.

Coming into the final, Old Dominion was the team to beat. But Tennessee jumped out to an early 15-point lead. The Lady Monarchs rallied to take the lead with nine minutes left, only to run out of gas. Buoyed by Chamique Holdsclaw's 24 points, the Lady Vols took control and won their fifth title since 1987. Tennessee also joined Southern California as the only two teams to win back-to- back championships.

High Scorer : Holdsclaw averaged 22.7 points over six games.

They Said It: "I don't think females should be allowed to decide to go pro," Holdsclaw said, when asked about players possibly leaving school early to join one of the two new women's leagues, the WNBA and ABL. "The leagues need mature young ladies who have their degrees."

They Said It II: "Chamique is the best player in women's college basketball today," said former Old Dominion star Nancy Lieberman-Cline, who was in Cincinnati doing TV commentary. "I think Cheryl is the best ever, but before all is said and done, Chamique could be better."

Surprise: Old Dominion came from behind to knock off Stanford, erasing the Cardinal's 32-game win streak.

Getting Revenge: Tennessee used an 83-72 regular-season loss to Old Dominion as motivation for turning the season around.

Interesting Fact: Holdsclaw wore number 23 in tribute to the 23rd Psalm and because she was a Michael Jordan fan.

Firsts: The Lady Vols became the first Tennessee team to lose to Arkansas, the first to lose to Florida, the first to not get a bye on the opening day of the SEC tournament and the first since 1986 to drop out of the Top 10.

Sweet Ending: Tennessee finished the season with a record of 29-10. No Tennessee team had lost that many games since the 1985-86 squad went 24-10. Pat Summitt's previous four teams lost a total of 12 games.

Moving Up: With her fifth national championship, Pat Summitt ascended past famed Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp and into second place for most titles. Who's in first? Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden with 10.

SI's Take: "The Lady Vols' appearance in Cincinnati was so unexpected that Pat Summitt, who usually buys her new Final Four outfit by January, didn't make this year's purchase until March 25, the day after Tennessee knocked off undefeated Connecticut in Iowa City. Shopping had to be put on hold as the team negotiated an unfamiliar landscape of injuries and individual and collective funks."

Record-setter: Stephen F. Austin's Katrina Price knocked down seven three- pointers to tie two others for the most in a game.

All-Tournament Team: Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee; Ticha Penicheiro, Old Dominion; Clarisse Machanguana, Old Dominion; Kellie Jolly, Tennessee; Nyree Roberts, Old Dominion.

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