Tennessee head basketball coach Pat Summit directs her team during the first half of their NCAA tournament second-round basketball game against George Washington at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, March 21, 2006. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
March 21, 2006
NORFOLK, Va. - (AP) Pat Summitt stayed perfect in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, and the Lady Vols are hoping they've already cleared the bump in the road to a championship.
Summitt improved to 38-0 in the first and second rounds in her career, and gave Tennessee (30-4) its 16th 30-win season in her 32 years as coach. The Lady Vols have advanced to 25 consecutive regional semifinals.
The way she saw it, it also made her hopeful that better times are ahead.
"I don't think I've ever been in a postseason that we haven't had an ugly win," the career victories leader said. "I'll take an ugly win any day at this time of year."
The Lady Vols advanced to play Rutgers or TCU in the Cleveland Regional, and looked like they might be contenders for a seventh national championship in the process.
The key, Zolman said, is learning from experience, not only in the tournament, which Tennessee last won in 1998, but also from the regular season. This season, the Lady Vols lost to two unranked teams for the first time in the history of the poll.
"By no means was this just a warmup for us," Zolman said. "We've learned moreso this year than ever to respect our opponent in every single aspect of the game."
That respect, though, is accompanied by a lingering feeling of having been disrespected by the committee that made Tennessee a No. 2 seed in the tournament.
"We're going to continue to use that as motivation," said Zolman whose three-pointer with 3:52 left in the first half gave her the UT career three-point record. Zolman now has 258 career three's, moving her past former teammate and record holder Kara Lawson (256).
Parker didn't have the same impact as in the first round, when she dunked twice, but the 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman still wowed the crowd with her razzle-dazzle.
The loudest cheers came when she took an alley-oop pass from Zolman and banked in a layup, and when she sliced to - and under - the basket for a nifty reverse layup.
"We're going to come into the regional with fire," Parker said.
George Washington (23-9) trailed by double digits almost the whole way after the Lady Vols' opening 16-2 burst. After 11 minutes, Zolman had 11 points and Parker had 10, both exceeding the Colonials' total, and Tennessee was up 25-8 and cruising.
"By the time I think we really got our arms around this game and made a run, it seemed like we were just out of gas," Colonials coach Joe McKeown said.
George Washington missed its first nine shots, but used an 11-3 run to begin the second half to get within 43-34 with 13:50 to go. But Zolman and Sidney Spencer hit back-to-back 3-pointers, sparking a 13-0 run that put the Colonials back in a hole.
"It was time to do something," Zolman said of her 3-pointer to stop the run.
Jessica Simmonds led the Colonials with 14 points and Jessica Adair had 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Colonials shot just 30 percent and were outrebounded 53-37.
"They were a pretty good No. 2 seed. I'll say that much," McKeown said.
George Washington never got closer than 10 in the last 13 minutes, even when Parker went to the bench with four fouls and 7:48 to play. The Colonials lost to the Lady Vols for the second time this season, the first by 59-43 in Washington on Dec. 7.
Spencer added 12 points and Nicky Anosike had nine and 12 rebounds.