2:00 PM ET, January 7, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Free throws and Sidney Spencer helped keep top-ranked Tennessee undefeated with the Lady Vols' second straight win over Connecticut.Spencer scored a career-high 21 points, and the Lady Vols (15-0) went 32-of-41 from the foul line on Saturday afternoon to beat the No. 7 Huskies 89-80 in another classic game in this storied rivalry."I enjoyed it. I wouldn't say that I was excited about our defense, but we found a way to reach down and win," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.UConn (12-2) lost for the first time in Knoxville since 2001 and had not dropped back-to-back games to Tennessee since 1998 and 1999. The Lady Vols ended their six-game losing streak to the Huskies last year.And there was a big crowd to watch. Attendance was announced as 24,653, the largest in Thompson-Boling Arena history."It was electrifying," Summitt said. "This is a rivalry that is special in women's basketball on the national scene."UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who was booed by Lady Vols fans who don't like his brash attitude, said Tennessee's free throw shooting was hard to overcome. He also didn't like the way his guards played."We're the University of Connecticut, and when we tee it up, we expect to win," he said. "We're really, really disappointed in ourselves.""I do think we got exactly what the outcome of this game should have been. Are we as big and as strong and as talented as Tennessee right now? No."UConn leads the all-time series 13-8, which includes six matchups in the Final Four.Zolman, Candace Parker and Tye'sha Fluker each added 13 points, and Alexis Hornbuckle had 14 rebounds, 10 points and nine assists, barely missing the distinction of becoming the first Lady Vol with a triple double.In a game that featured plenty of stars, it was Spencer who was clutch for the Lady Vols. The junior forward's previous career high was 14 points, and she had no points last year in Hartford."(My teammates) needed a double team to defend them, and that was leaving me open so they could kick the ball out to me to get the open shot," she said.Tennessee led most of the second half, but couldn't extend it past six points until late. UConn cut it to 77-75 with 2:44 left on Barbara Turner's pair of free throws. In response, Spencer made four free throws in a row.Charde Houston had a jumper for the Huskies with 1:18 remaining, but Parker scored and Zolman had two free throws. UConn kept up the pressure, and Ann Strother was fouled shooting a 3 and made two of three free throws to cut it back to six.But Houston's free throw with 8.7 seconds left was the Huskies' final point.The Huskies led 41-39 at halftime after the lead changed several times.The Lady Vols had few answers for Strother, who finished with 25 points and was 5-of-15 from beyond the arc. Houston scored 19 points, and Brittany Hunter added 12.Tennessee had trouble shooting, but Spencer was 6-of-9 from the floor. She made all five 3s she attempted.Spencer started some games last season before she hurt her knee, and Summitt added her to the lineup this season after guard Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood quit the team last month."Sidney Spencer had the game of her life," Auriemma said. "They just have way too many weapons."The Lady Vols shot 39 percent for the game (26-of-63), and they were 27-of-31 on free throws in the second half.Zolman, the Lady Vols' leading scorer, didn't make a field goal until late in the second half, and the rest of her points came from going 10-of-10 at the line.The Huskies had 17 turnovers, nine of which came on steals by the Lady Vols.Tennessee got a big break early in the second half when Houston picked up her fourth foul with 14:25 to go. The Lady Vols were having trouble keeping her from scoring even though they used two and sometimes three defenders in the paint.But a minute later, Parker when to the bench after tweaking her left ankle, which she hurt earlier this season but has been playing on with heavy tape. Both players returned to the game and fouled out.Houston has missed some games and played only four minutes in UConn's last game mainly because of a foot injury. She played 20 minutes against Tennessee despite looking tired most of the game.Parker, playing in her first game against UConn, missed a chance for a dunk early in the first half when she got the ball on the break following a turnover. Palming the ball, she went up for a lay-in surrounded by four Huskies and missed as the crowd let out a big groan.Hornbuckle was often guarded by former high school teammate and freshman Renee Montgomery. They both went to South Charleston High in West Virginia.Montgomery had no points. She rotated with Ketia Swanier and Mel Thomas, who each had five points."Alexis Hornbuckle got more done out there than Ketia Swanier, Mel Thomas and Renee Montgomery combined. Points, assists, steals, you name it," Auriemma said.
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||28-54 (.519)||25-64 (.391)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-20 (.350)||7-15 (.467)|
|FT Made-Attempted||17-25 (.680)||32-41 (.780)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||30 (0/0)||22 (0/0)|