NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A disputed foul call with time running out, a
spinning last-second shot and now a backcourt steal in the waning
Tennessee may not dominate women's basketball like it used to,
but the Lady Vols somehow found their way to an 11th NCAA
LaToya Davis scored with 1.6 seconds left after LSU's Temeka
Johnson lost the ball in the backcourt, giving the Lady Vols a
52-50 victory over the Lady Tigers in their national semifinal game
"They have low blood pressure," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt
said of her players. "My blood pressure right now is not even
worth checking. ... I told them I was really proud of them but I
don't know how much more of this I could take."
Little has come easy for the Lady Vols this postseason, but
balance and remarkable resiliency have put them back in the title
game. They now seek an unprecedented seventh overall championship
on the heels of three straight two-point, last-second victories.
With the score tied 50-50 and the clock running down, once again
Tennessee put the ball in the hands of Tasha Butts, who scored the
winning points in the Lady Vols' last two narrow wins.
She missed this time, giving LSU the ball with 6 seconds left.
But Tennessee trapped Johnson in the backcourt, forcing the
turnover when Johnson tripped as she tried to advance past Ashley
Robinson. The ball squirted out and Shyra Ely came up with it and
quickly fed Davis underneath for an uncontested layup.
"I was just in the right place at the right time," said Ely,
Tennessee's leading scorer who was held to four points on 1-of-11
shooting. "I just grabbed the loose ball and saw LaToya."
Tennessee, the lone No. 1 seed in the Final Four, will play
Connecticut, a 67-58 winner over Minnesota. It will be the second
straight title game between the two, and the fourth time in the
last 10 years. Connecticut has won all three meetings.
"I guess the way we feel is we're supposed to be here because
we keep on finding ways to win," Ely added.
LSU coach Pokey Chatman tried to deflect criticism from
Johnson's late turnover, noting that LSU made only 12 of 20 free
throws, had nine turnovers and allowed Tennessee to score 18
"It's probably going to be unfortunate that we're probably
going to talk about the last six seconds of this game and in my
opinion that's not where this game was lost," Chatman said.
Seimone Augustus led LSU with 16 points and nine rebounds, but
her shooting percentage plummeted from the previous games in the
tournament. She carried the Lady Tigers to their first Final Four
by making 67 percent of her shots.
Guarded mostly by Robinson, Augustus finished 7-for-21 against
Tennessee. Johnson had nine points and eight assists for LSU.
"I had good looks. Shots just weren't falling," Augustus said.
Shanna Zolman led Tennessee (31-3) with 12 points, hitting a
3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer with 1:38 left to give Tennessee
a 50-46 lead.
LSU (27-8) rallied to tie it at 50 when Johnson drove and passed
to Tillie Willis with 27.2 seconds left.
But Davis made the final basket. Tennessee players leapt and
punched their fists in the air, while LSU looked stunned. LSU could
not get off a desperation shot before the final buzzer.
It was the lowest scoring game in women's Final Four history.
The previous was in the 1985 semifinal game in which Old Dominion
defeated and Louisiana-Monroe 57-47.
Afterward, LSU forward Wendlyn Jones sat quietly in the Tigers'
locker room, trying to grasp the abrupt end to her season.
"I can't believe that just happened," Jones said.
It was a heartbreaking ending to a feel-good run. Longtime coach
Sue Gunter has been watching games from home since early this
season because of respiratory problems.
Chatman took over and led the Tigers to their first Final Four.
Gunter watched the semifinal from a nearby hotel room.
What she saw was fierce defensive intensity from her players,
who frustrated Tennessee's shooters throughout the game only to
come up short in the wild final seconds.
The Lady Vols had only three players score in double figures.
Butts had 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Davis finished with 10.
Tennessee shot only 29 percent from the floor through the first
30 minutes, but LSU could not capitalize because Augustus started
The Lady Vols, who started 0-for-9 from 3-point range, suddenly
got the shooting they needed midway through the second half, with
3s by Sidney Spencer and Zolman and a strong inside basket by
Tye'sha Fluker comprising an 8-2 run to tie the score at 34.
Tennessee is used to dominating its Southeastern Conference
rivals. The Lady Vols were 31-7 against LSU, including an 85-62
victory on Feb. 29.
But Tennessee looked tight early, hitting less than 30 percent
of its shots through the first 12:02 in falling behind 15-10.
It was the lowest-scoring first half of the season for the Vols,
who were shooting only 29 percent (8-of-28) from the floor.