AP Sports Writer
March 25, 2002
AMES, Iowa (AP) -- Tennessee beat a familiar opponent to
put itself back in a familiar setting. Gwen Jackson had 18
points and 12 rebounds, and Michelle Snow hit three key shots
down the stretch as second-seeded Tennessee beat top-seeded
Vanderbilt 68-63 in the Midwest Regional final Monday night,
sending the Lady Vols to the Final Four for the 13th time.
Tennessee (29-4) built a 15-point lead early in the second
half against its Southeastern Conference rival, then survived
a rally that got the Commodores (30-7) within two points.
Chantelle Anderson's 35 points and 12 rebounds weren't enough
to get Vanderbilt to the Final Four for the second time. Vanderbilt
lost to eventual champion Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional
final last year.
Now, Tennessee, a six-time national champion, gets another
crack at unbeaten and top-ranked Connecticut, the Mideast
Regional champion. They'll meet in the national semifinals
in San Antonio on Friday night. Connecticut beat Tennessee
86-72 in Knoxville on Jan. 5.
Disrupting Vanderbilt with its pressure defense, Tennessee
built a 42-27 lead early in the second half and was up 57-47
after Jackson scored on a drive.
Vanderbilt then made its run. Zuzi Klimesova scored six straight
points and Anderson got a basket inside, drawing the Commodores
to 57-55 with 5:29 left. They would get no closer.
Snow, who had managed only two points until then, hit two
straight turnaround jumpers to make it 61-55. After Anderson
sank two free throws, Jackson made a jump shot from the free-throw
line for a 63-57 lead.
Anderson's layup left Vanderbilt trailing 63-60 with 1:14
to play, but Snow came through again, hitting another turnaround
jump shot to make it 65-60 with 48.3 seconds remaining.
After Klimesova missed a 3-pointer, Brittany Jackson made
two free throws with 20.3 seconds left and the Lady Vols could
Klimesova finished with 18 points for Vanderbilt. Brittany
Jackson scored 10 points and Snow added eight.
The victory was No. 788 for Tennessee coach Pat Summitt,
tying her with Jody Conradt of Texas for first place among
Tennessee tried to make it difficult for Vanderbilt to run
its offense by pressuring the perimeter players so they'd
have to work to get the ball to the 6-foot-6 Anderson inside.
That pressure started to take a toll midway through the first
half, when Vanderbilt went more then five minutes without
a basket. Jackson scored two baskets as the Lady Vols outscored
Vanderbilt 10-2 during that stretch to open a 20-10 lead.
Snow scored inside against Anderson and Loree Moore hit a
3-pointer to increase the lead to 34-21 before Vanderbilt
got the final four points of the half to pull to 34-25.
Tennessee and Connecticut have become the nation's hottest
women's basketball rivalry in recent years and this will be
their fourth meeting at the Final Four.
Connecticut's two national championships both came at Tennessee's
expense in the finals, in 1995 and 2000. When Tennessee won
the championship in 1996, it beat UConn in the national semifinals.