Nov. 17, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Virginia coach Debbie Ryan doesn't have many fond memories of Thompson-Boling Arena.
That all changed Monday night when Monica Wright scored 35 points and Britnee Milner made a free throw with 6.4 seconds left to help No. 16 Virginia upset No. 5 Tennessee 83-82.
Ryan coached her first Final Four game at the arena in 1990 against Stanford and she didn't come out victorious.
"Ever since then when I've returned it was usually just a complete drubbing, so I was pretty surprised to see our team step up like they did."
It was easier with Wright's dominating performance.
"Monica Wright's performance tonight was just absolutely incredible. I mean, she just willed us to win," Ryan said. "She just put us on her back and carried us to victory."
Trailing 80-75 with 1:44 left, Virginia (2-0) rallied. Wright made a 3-pointer and Whitny Edwards converted a steal to tie the game at 80.
Alex Fuller gave Tennessee an 82-80 lead with a pair of free throws with 49 seconds left before Wright tied it with a jumper.
"I was just trying to stay relaxed and not force anything," Wright said. "Coach Ryan settled me down a few times when I was doing too much. I had my team to rebound me if I missed."
Shekinna Stricklen had a chance to give the Lady Vols the lead, but she missed a jumper with 9 seconds left and then fouled Miller, who made one of two free throws for the win.
"We know that Virginia is a great team. We didn't play our best. We have a lot of talent on this team and tonight, we weren't using it much," Glory Johnson said after the loss.
Tennessee held a 43-35 halftime lead, but Virginia rallied in the second half to pull off the upset.
"We just weren't tough," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "We just didn't have that competitive drive every possession. We played in spurts. I thought Virginia maintained the intensity throughout the 40 minutes."
This is only the 19th time Tennessee has been beaten at Thompson-Boling since the arena opened in 1987. Winning in Knoxville was not lost on Wright.
"This place is legendary," she said. "They've had so many great players here that have made it to the WNBA and are in coaching. It was really important for us to play the team and not be intimidated."