<
>

Parker dunks way into history as Lady Vols roll

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Candace Parker is a redshirt freshman for
Tennessee who can play every position and distribute the ball as
easily as she scores. Oh yeah, she dunks, too.

The 6-foot-4 Parker became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA
Tournament game Sunday, jamming one-handed on a breakaway just 6:12
into the second-seeded Lady Vols' 102-54 victory against an Army
team that was making its NCAA Tournament debut.

Then, for good measure, Parker ensured her place in basketball
lore by becoming the first to do it twice in a college game with
another one-hander on the baseline.

She finished with 26 points in 26 minutes, and added five
rebounds, a career-high seven assists, four blocks, two steals --
and the feeling of an obstacle cleared.

"It's a relief to finally do it and get it over with and be
done with it," said Parker, who's been peppered with questions
from fans and even her teammates about when she would finally throw
one down in a game.

Parker, who first dunked when she was a 15-year-old high school
sophomore, gave fans a possible preview in warmups, dunking several
times. Then she made tournament history.

The first came when she took an outlet pass from Sidney Spencer,
causing the large contingent of Lady Vols fans to begin thinking it
was time.

"I was buzzing," guard Shanna Zolman said, "and I was on the
bench."

Parker beat Army's Margaree King down the center of the floor,
elevated and dunked with her right hand, causing fans at the
Constant Convocation Center to go wild.

It was the second college dunk attempt for Parker, who missed
against Auburn on Feb. 23. She became the fourth woman in college
history to dunk in a game, joining Georgeann Wells of West Virginia
(twice in 1984), Charlotte Smith of North Carolina (1994) and
Michelle Snow of Tennessee, who did it in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

The play gave the Lady Vols a 15-14 lead against the 15th-seeded
Black Knights, who were adopted by most of the fans at Tennessee
rival Old Dominion's home arena, and it spelled the beginning of
the end of Army's whirlwind NCAA Tournament experience.

A little over eight minutes later, the Lady Vols (29-4) held a
37-17 lead thanks to a 24-4 run and the only suspense left was
whether Parker would try to do it again.

She did, with 14:18 left, working a give-and-go with Nicky
Anosike from the right corner, and taking a return pass with a
clear path down the baseline. This time, it happened so fast that
the crowd didn't even have a chance to anticipate the moment.

But Parker said now that she's done it, fans shouldn't expect
more.

"I'm not going to force it," she said. "I'm not pressed to do
it again."

The second dunk was something coach Pat Summitt had already seen
before.

"It took me back to our first day of official team practice,"
Summitt said, recalling seeing Parker do the same thing while
running a simple baseline drill.

"I've been in the business for 32 years and I remember going,
`I don't believe what I just saw," she said. "I didn't think I'd
be impressed when I saw it, but I was."

Less than a minute later, Parker got the rest of the afternoon
off to rest up for a game against George Washington on Tuesday
night.

For Army, which had West Point superintendent Lt. Gen. Bill
Lennox among its fatigues-wearing, face-painted fans, Parker's
dazzling performance likely only enhanced their debut in the
tournament, which had already sparked a frenzy at the academy.

"This isn't something that's going to go away," first-year
coach Maggie Dixon said, referring to both the positives of making
it and the bummer of the blowout finish.

"They're going to remember it for the future, and use it as
motivation."

Eventually, the dunks might even become a nice memory, Cara
Enright said.

"You can't sit and watch. You can't be in awe of it," she
said. "But you can sit back after and say, 'Wow. That girl did
dunk on us.' That's impressive."

Dixon was making some history of her own Sunday. She and her
older brother, Pittsburgh men's coach Jamie Dixon, are believed to
be the first brother and sister to coach in the Division I
tournament in the same year. Big brother didn't fare much better:
The fifth-seeded Panthers lost to 13th-seeded Bradley 72-66, also
Sunday.

But Army's outcome was completely expected.

The Blacks Knights (20-11), who were carried off the court by
cadets after winning the Patriot League tournament, lost to the
Lady Vols 96-44 in 2002, so they knew what they were up against.
They gave away several inches at each position on the floor.

Enright led the Black Knights with 21 points and Alex McGuire
had eight.

The Lady Vols, who shot 60 percent and outrebounded Army 40-21,
got 15 points each from Tye'sha Fluker and Zolman and had all 10
players that played score.