Rutgers 69

(27-5, 17-0 Big East)

Tennessee 76

(31-4, 12-3 SEC)

    12:00 PM ET, March 26, 2006

    Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

    1 2 T
    RUTG 27 4269
    TENN 29 4776

    Top Performers

    Rutgers: M. Ajavon 24 Pts, 4 Reb

    Tennessee: S. Zolman 29 Pts, 2 Reb

    Parker, Zolman score 29 each in Lady Vols win

    CLEVELAND (AP) -- Pat Summitt is sick of seeing good friend C. Vivian Stringer in March.

    Tennessee's famed coach knocked her fellow Hall of Famer out of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year Sunday, winning 76-69 in the semifinals of the Cleveland Regional.

    Candace Parker scored 29 points with six blocks, and Shanna Zolman hit five 3-pointers for a career-high 29 points to lead Tennessee to its 21st regional final appearance.

    Rutgers vs. Tennessee in NCAA Tournament
    The Lady Vols have ended the Scarlet Knights' season each of the five times they've met in the NCAA Tournament.
    Season Round Winner
    '05-06 Regional Semifinal Tennessee
    '04-05 Regional Final Tennessee
    '99-00 Final Four Tennessee
    '97-98 Regional Semifinal Tennessee
    '91-92 Second Round Tennessee

    Summitt took no joy though in beating Stringer.

    "I hope we never see Rutgers again in a regional tournament," Summitt said. "We've seen them so many times. It's tough to play against one of your best friends."

    The matchup of two of the three winningest coaches in women's basketball has gone Summitt's way every time in the postseason. The Scarlet Knights are 0-5 against the Lady Vols in the NCAA Tournament, including a loss last season in the regional final.

    Tennessee (31-4) will play Tuesday night against North Carolina, which beat Purdue 70-68 in the other semifinal.

    Summitt previously called Tennessee's No. 2 seed in the same region with top overall seed North Carolina a "slap in the face."

    Stringer didn't hold back in her criticism of the NCAA after the game.

    "They have been a joke with regards to the selection," Stringer said. "I didn't say that earlier because I thought I'd get sent to Alaska and they don't have a regional there."

    Parker, who last Sunday became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA Tournament game, showed she can do much more than dunk.

    She scored 12 straight points during a critical run by the Lady Vols early in the second half. The freshman hit jumpers, blocked shots and at times brought the ball up the floor, looking a little bit like NBA star LeBron James in his own building.

    "I've only dunked in one game. I don't want that to be my identity," Parker said. "I want to be known for an all-around game."

    Tennessee improved to 21-4 in the regional semifinals in its 25th straight appearance. The Lady Vols have not missed the regional finals since 2001.

    As Summitt left the floor, she stopped to kiss her son and her mother, who is in a wheelchair.

    "One more mom. One more," said Summitt, who is seeking her seven national title and first since 1998.

    Matee Ajavon led Rutgers (27-5) with 24 points and Cappie Pondexter, a Naismith player of the year finalist, scored 22 in her final game.

    "It's hard," Pondexter said in tears. "I've just got to move on."

    Zolman, who has made three Final Four appearances and is Tennessee's career leader in 3-pointers, shot 10-for-14 and played all 40 minutes. Parker and Zolman accounted for all but 18 of the Lady Vols' points.

    In the hallway waiting to begin their postgame news conference, Summitt rubbed Zolman's right shoulder.

    "Show off," she told her senior guard, whose final 3-pointer put the Lady Vols up 69-59 with 4:26 left. "You were feeling it, huh?"

    "Yeah," Zolman said.

    Rutgers' defense, which led the nation by holding teams to 51.1 points per game, disrupted Tennessee early, but the Lady Vols went on a 30-10 run to go up 54-41 with 10:46 remaining.

    "Candace Parker did a great job of attacking and it opened things up," Pondexter said.

    Stringer tried defending Parker with several different players and even tried some zone, but couldn't find an answer.

    Rutgers twice got within seven but Parker hit two free throws and added a right-handed scoop in the lane with 1:15 left to seal it. Tennessee's point total was the most allowed by Rutgers all season.

    Parker went 11-of-13 from the foul line, had five rebounds and frustrated the Scarlet Knights inside.

    Alexis Hornbuckle added some big hustle plays for the Lady Vols. Hornbuckle, who sustained a concussion in the second round game and was playing with a broken wrist, scored 10 points and had five rebounds.

    Rutgers opened up a 23-14 lead with 7:08 left in the first half behind a 15-1 run led by Ajavon. The Lady Vols' offense went nearly six minutes without a field goal.

    But Parker and Hornbuckle responded with a 15-4 run to close the half up 29-27. The Scarlet Knights committed 10 first-half turnovers and went more than six minutes without a basket.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 69 76
    FG Made-Attempted 24-59 (.407) 25-53 (.472)
    3P Made-Attempted 6-12 (.500) 5-13 (.385)
    FT Made-Attempted 15-17 (.882) 21-26 (.808)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 15 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 9 13

    Game Leaders

    PointsM. Ajavon 24S. Zolman 29
    ReboundsK. Vaughn 8C. Parker 6


    » Mar 26, 2006 @TENN 76, RUTG 69Recap | Box Score