Parker's dunk, 25 points lead Lady Vols past Stanford

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee's Candace Parker dunks, blocks, steals the ball and now shoots 3-pointers.

Parker scored 25 points, including her fourth career dunk, to help the fourth-ranked Lady Vols beat No. 11 Stanford 77-60 on Friday night.

"Without a doubt, this may have been Candace's best all-around game. Her support defensively, running the floor, certainly making face-up shots, back-to-the-basket plays, getting other people involved," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.

"She had a lot of what I call valuable spurts throughout the game. We'd go two or three possessions, and it's like Candace would take over."

The Lady Vols (4-0) built a lead in the first half when Parker dunked and made her first 3-pointer of the season.

Stanford and star freshman center Jayne Appel made them work to stay ahead. And even Parker found Appel tough to guard.

The Cardinal (2-2) cut the lead to nine twice late in the second half, and Tennessee answered with 3-pointers.

The second time, Appel got an easy basket that trimmed it to 56-47 with 8:02 remaining, and Tennessee's Sidney Spencer hit a 3 at the other end.

The teams traded baskets before the Lady Vols pulled away with a quick 6-0 run on a jumper by Parker and four free throws by Alexis Hornbuckle to make it 69-51. The Cardinal could get no closer the rest of the way en route to its 11th straight loss to Tennessee.

Spencer finished with 10 points.

Parker added nine rebounds, five blocks and four steals, but she was the only Lady Vol to miss a free throw.

"We knew Stanford was going to try to come in here and beat us. And so we just all got each other hyped up, and I was just really happy because we fed off each other's energy and we fed off the defense," Parker said.

Parker is the fifth collegiate woman to dunk in a game and dunked for the second time this season. She stole a cross-court pass and took off for the open basket at the other end, jamming the ball in with her right hand with 10:55 remaining. The dunk came after the Cardinal cut the lead to 13-11.

Appel had a season-high 23 points off the bench in her best outing so far while the Cardinal's veteran post players struggled. Leading scorer Brooke Smith was held to four points, and Kristen Newlin had two.

Two-time Pac-10 player of the year Candice Wiggins added 18 points -- 12 in the second half -- and reserve Jillian Harmon scored 10 for Stanford.

"It's so early. This is a great opportunity for our team to see the type of intensity that is out there," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Tennessee is going to have a great year, and we also want to have a great year."

Most of the games in this series have been closer. The teams have played each other at least once a season since 1988.

"We could stop the losing streak if we didn't want to schedule them," VanDerveer said. "We've played them tough. We didn't play them as tough as we wanted to this time, but I think it helps us in the long run."

Appel, a California native who ranks as one of the state's top high school players of all time, was 10-of-17 from the field. She was only 3-of-8 from the foul line and was one of only two Stanford players to attempt a free throw.

"It was definitely nerve-racking coming in, traveling for the first time to Tennessee," Appel said. "They were doubling Candice and Brooke, someone else had to step up."

The Cardinal got as close as four in the first half after being down by 12. Appel's basket with 1:39 left cut it to 29-25, but the Lady Vols answered with Dominique Redding's 3.

The first half ended appropriately with another highlight play after several before the break. After Spencer hit a 3 with 3.6 seconds remaining, Wiggins threw the ball from about 50 feet and it went in at the buzzer to make it 35-28.

Before her dunk, Parker attempted her first 3-pointer of the season and made it. The crowd's cheer was almost louder than when she dunked about five minutes later.

The Lady Vols had a quick 8-0 run to go ahead 25-13 before halftime, but Appel scored three straight baskets to trim the lead in half.