UT Beats Texas A&M, on to 17th Final Four...
Even with an injured shoulder, Candace Parker was still able to lift Tennessee into another Final Four.
Parker scored 26 points and returned after dislocating her left shoulder to lead the Lady Vols out of a second-half deficit for a 53-45 win over Texas A&M in the Oklahoma City Regional final Tuesday night.
She twice left the game in the first half with the injury and she didn't return until about halfway through the second half. She scored six of the Lady Vols' points in an 8-0 run as they overcame a 42-37 deficit, all while wearing a brace to stabilize her left shoulder.
She scored only eight points in the second half, but it was enough to push the Lady Vols (34-2) ahead when combined with a sturdy defensive effort that kept Texas A&M (29-8) scoreless for a five-minute stretch.
Even after returning from the locker room with the shoulder wrapped, she shot an airball on her first jumper from the foul line and then couldn't convert a layup off a lob at the right block.
She turned a second alley-oop attempt into a successful layup, and that got the Lady Vols' run going. Shannon Bobbitt followed with two free throws, and Parker hit two of her own to put Tennessee ahead 43-42 with 3:44 to play. She went 1-for-2 on two successive trips to the foul line to stretch the lead to three.
After a free throw by the Aggies' Takia Starks, Parker lost the ball in the lane but was able to recover and pass to Alexis Hornbuckle for a deep 3-pointer that gave the Lady Vols a 48-43 edge with 48.8 seconds left.
Hornbuckle and Bobbitt each hit two free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Top-seeded Tennessee advances to the Final Four for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, where it will face Southeastern Conference rival LSU. The Lady Tigers beat Tennessee during the regular season, but lost in the SEC tournament championship game.
The Lady Vols are seeking their eighth national championship, and their second straight.
The best season ever in Texas A&M history concluded with another rugged defensive performance. The second-seeded Aggies held Tennessee to its lowest point total of the season.
Starks scored 12 to lead Texas A&M, A'Quonesia Franklin had 11 and Danielle Gant finished with 10.
Hornbuckle added 14 points for the Lady Vols.
Story Courtesy: UT Lady Vols Sports Information & AP Wire Reports
-Tennessee advanced to its 18th NCAA Final Four.
-Candace Parker dislocated her shoulder late in the first half but returned to the game before halftime.
-Candace Parker became the ninth SEC player in league history to be named to the NCAA All-Region teams at least three times in her career. She earned All-Region Most Outstanding Player for the second straight year. Alexis Hornbuckle joined her on the All-Region Team.
-Tennessee led at the half for the 32nd time this season.
-Tennessee’s 66.7% shooting from the field in the first half was its highest clip of the season.
-Tennessee made a three-pointer for 338th consecutive game.
The win tonight…
-Improves the Lady Vols to 34-2 overall and 4-0 in the NCAA Tournament this season.
-Gives UT a 102-19 overall record all-time in NCAA Tournament games, including an 18-5 record in Elite Eight games.
-Gives Tennessee a 396-150 all-time record against ranked opponents, including a 16-2 mark this season. Against top-10 opposition, UT is 171-113 all-time.
-Gives Pat Summitt a career record of 981-182 in her 34th season at UT.
-Scored in double figures for the 42nd straight game and the 103rd time of her career.
-Her two blocks tonight give her 36 for her career in NCAA Tournament games, which stands as tied for fifth place in the NCAA tournament record books.
-Her 26 points tonight give her 302 for her career in NCAA Tournament games, moving her into eighth place in the tournament record books.
-Her 10 free throw attempts give her 274 for the season, moving her into second place in the SEC record books for single-season attempts.
-Played in her 144th career game, moving her into a tie with former teammate Shanna Zolman for second place in the UT record books for games played.
-Her eight rebounds tonight give her 150 for her career in NCAA Tournament games, moving her into sixth place in the tournament record books.
-Her four steals tonight give her 53 for her career in NCAA Tournament games, which puts her in third place in the tournament record books.
-Moved into a tie with Abby Conklin (349) for sixth place in the UT record books for career three-point field goal attempts (349)
Story Courtesy: UT Lady Vols Sports Information