A BATTLE OF TITANESSES
Women's basketball might well have seen a preview of its April 1 title game last Saturday when No. 1-ranked Tennessee played No. 2 Louisiana Tech. The Lady Vols and the Lady Techsters even met at the site of the championship game, Knoxville's Thompson-Boling Arena. That's what made Tech's 59-58 win all the more impressive, though winning coach Leon Barmore graciously said later, "It takes a lot to ask a team to play a game of this magnitude early in the season."
The action centered on a pivot duel between the Lady Techsters' 6'4" Venus Lacy and the Lady Vols' 6'3" Daedra Charles. Lacy was forced to the bench with two early fouls, opening the way for Charles to lead Tennessee to a 27-23 halftime lead. After intermission it was Charles who got into foul trouble, committing three in the first 4:14 of the half to earn a seat on the Lady Vols' bench for more than three minutes. After Charles finished with 22 points, Lacy said, "Charles is a great post player, but we couldn't play as hard as we wanted when we had three or four fouls."
Despite the high scoring in the paint, the game ultimately was decided by free throw shooting. With 14 seconds remaining, Lacy hit two free throws, her 19th and 20th points of the game, to give Tech its 59-58 lead. With two seconds left, Tennessee guard Dena Head, a starter on last season's national title team, was fouled. She missed both shots to complete a night in which the Lady Vols made only half of their 32 shots from the line.
"The bottom line is we have to go out and make the free throws," said the losers' coach, Pat Summitt, who nevertheless saw reason to feel good about her team. "If Louisiana Tech is one of the best teams in the country and we were this close in December, I'm excited about how good this Tennessee team can be in February."
ASSIST FOR A POINT GUARD
Michigan's 113-108 overtime defeat of Duke in Ann Arbor proved that when crunch time arrives this season for the defending national champs, the Wolverines' leader, point guard Rumeal Robinson, can count on help from forward Sean Higgins and a lift, perhaps literally, from 6'9", 230-pound power forward Loy Vaught, who henceforth should be known as the Elevator.
Robinson, the quarterback of Michigan's memorable run through the 1989 NCAA tournament, had 22 points and eight assists despite picking up his fourth foul with 13:04 left in regulation. Also making crucial baskets was Higgins, whose 6-of-8 three-point shooting on the way to a career-high 32 points inspired Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to recall last season's tournament star for the Wolverines. "I thought Glen Rice had graduated," said Coach K.
Afterward Vaught, who scored 27 points, talked about how he made Robinson the beneficiary of what would have been a most unusual—and unofficial—assist. It came when Vaught grabbed the 6'2" Robinson and lifted him as Robinson attempted a layup against Duke's 6'10" Alaa Abdelnaby. The refs spotted the infraction and disallowed the basket.
"I didn't think Rumeal could get up enough," said Vaught. "Everybody thought Glen Rice had a 50-inch vertical leap, but it was me I lifting him]. And if you check a film of this game, you'll see I did it for Terry Mills once."