NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Tasha Butts wants the ball with the game on
the line for the Tennessee Lady Vols.
Butts scored in the lane with 1.7 seconds left and the Lady Vols
beat Stanford 62-60 on Tuesday night to advance to the Final Four
for the third straight year.
Tuesday, March 30
Tasha Butts came up big again for Tennessee, but Stanford lost this game in part because the Cardinal couldn't provide any offensive help for senior Nicole Powell. Powell scored half of Stanford's points (31), but the next best was nine points from point guard Susan Borchardt. Kelley Suminski, who hit the buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the Sweet 16, didn't hit any big shots, attempting only nine field goals and finishing with four points.
Butts continues to be Tennessee's go-to player in clutch time, a role she stepped into after Loree Moore's injury. But senior forward LaToya Davis might have been the X-factor. Her 10 points and six assists both were just short of her career highs.
Stanford's bench also was disappointing, and was outscored 14-0 by Tennessee's bench, which got nine big points from Sidney Spencer. The Cardinal also failed to get to the line. They average 18 free throws but went only 1-for-3 at the stripe.
Butts, guarded on the left block by All-American Nicole Powell,
spun to her right and threw up a right-hander, which banked off the
glass and fell through. Two nights earlier, Butts hit two free
throws after a disputed end-of-game call to lift the Lady Vols
(30-3) past Baylor in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
"It's unbelieveable," Butts said. "The whole season, we've
been put in situations like this and it always seems like I have
the ball in my hands. I'm very confident I can make a play for our
After the basket Tuesday, Butts ran back on defense, slapped the
floor with both hands and got a bear hug from Shyra Ely as
Tennessee coach Pat Summitt called a timeout.
Powell caught a long inbounds pass on the right wing and heaved
a 3-point attempt toward the basket, but it banged off the rim and
out, and she exhaled in disappointment.
Stanford players and coaches questioned whether she was fouled
during the shot.
"I felt like I was fouled a lot of times tonight," Powell
said. "It's the NCAA tournament and that's the way it is."
Powell led Stanford (27-7) with 31 points and 10 rebounds, but
was the only Cardinal player in double figures.
Summitt said she still thought the Lady Vols limited Powell's
"If we hadn't defended her the way we did, I think she might
have had 61," Summitt said.
Powell was selected the Most Outstanding Player for the Midwest
Regional games in Norman. She had 47 points, 27 rebounds and 11
assists combined in Stanford's two games.
Her right-hander in the lane tied the game at 60 with 44.6
Butts missed a layup on the other end, but Tennessee kept
possession after Stanford's Chelsea Trotter knocked the rebound out
of bounds under the basket with 21.7 seconds left.
Butts ran the clock down to 8.4 seconds before Summitt signaled
for a timeout to set up the final play.
Butts charged to the left of the basket and turned her back to
"I felt like I had good position on her," Powell said. "She
just worked her way in, spun and the ball rolled in."
Butts led Tennessee with 14 points, Ely scored 12 and LaToya
Davis had 10. The Lady Vols advanced to play Southeastern
Conference rival LSU in the Final Four on Sunday.
Tennessee lost to Connecticut in the championship game last
year. The Huskies also eliminated the Lady Vols in the national
semifinals in 2002 and the final in 2000.
But Summitt, selected the Naismith coach of the year Tuesday,
said she was only thinking about LSU for now. Connecticut plays
Minnesota in the other semifinal Sunday.
Tennessee has won eight straight games against Stanford and
holds a 16-4 edge in the rivalry that has grown as the teams played
at least once every year since 1988. Two of Stanford's wins came on
the way to championships in 1990 and 1992.
The Cardinal has lost each of the last six games by six points
"We've unfortunately been on the very close losing end,"
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I think that by being that
close our team has really overachieved."
The Cardinal took a 26-18 lead when Powell hit a jumper from the
free throw line with 8:26 left in the first half. Powell scored 10
of the Cardinal's first 26 points as Stanford hit 13 of its first
But Tennessee charged back, holding Stanford scoreless for the
next 5:38 as it scored 11 straight points and took the lead on a
3-pointer by Sidney Spencer with 3:13 to play before halftime.
VanDerveer called timeout to regroup, and Stanford scored the
final five points of the half for a 31-29 lead.
Stanford tried only three free throws and made just one, and it
didn't get any scoring from its bench.
VanDerveer said she couldn't pin down one reason for the loss.
"I think we had a lot of shots normally we knock down that we
didn't knock down," VanDerveer said. "Just a lot of little things
in a game like this. It comes down to a loose ball or one
possession. I think that a lot of things are running through their
minds right now."