WBB loses to Tennessee, 63-48
Postgame interviews, photos and quotes
March 8, 2008
Vanderbilt's Postgame Press - Balcomb, Risper & Wirth
UT's Postgame Press - Summitt, Parker & Anosike
Neil Brake's Photo Gallery | AP Photos
Box Score | Postgame Quotes | Notes | Season Stats
NCAA Selection Show - Monday, March 17 on ESPN
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Lady Vols have a chance to show how much they've improved since being humiliated by LSU.
Candace Parker scored 17 of her 25 points in the first half as the No. 3 Lady Vols advanced for a shot at their third Southeastern Conference tournament title in four years by beating instate rival Vanderbilt 63-48 on Saturday night.
The victory gives the Lady Vols (29-2) a rematch Sunday night against the last team to beat them: LSU, a 66-49 winner over Kentucky in the other semifinal. LSU (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) won the SEC regular-season title by routing Tennessee 78-62 in Knoxville on Feb. 14.
"They beat us on our home floor and they won the SEC championship outright, so obviously we have incentive going in," Parker said. "It's going to come down ... to defense and rebounding and playing a 40-minute game. I think we're a completely different team than we were when we played them. I think we're going to play with energy and play for 40 minutes."
Senior center Nicky Anosike said the key lesson was not slacking up with a big lead.
"You have to keep fighting and pushing, and the defense still has to be there," she said.
Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said the LSU loss was a wake-up call for her team. They have won five straight since that loss, which prompted a meeting between coaches and players and a players' only session. She believes the Lady Vols realized they had been playing in spurts since winning the national championship last season.
"They really had no one to blame but themselves," Summitt said.
"That's when they took ownership. I told them, 'We've gotten away with being a team that just played in spurts and played the scoreboard instead of playing the game with great passion for 40 minutes.' I said, 'If you're going to be a championship-caliber team, you've got to do it.'"
Tennessee, which already has 12 SEC tournament championships, will be making its 18th appearance in the title game after knocking off the defending champion. Vanderbilt (23-8) lost for the first time in nine games after winning the 2002 and 2004 titles here at the Sommet Center, only a mile from its own gym.
Vanderbilt, whose five tournament titles are more than any other SEC school but the Tennessee, had been trying to win for the fourth time in seven years.
"We've played them harder every time we've played them this year, and ... I'm proud of how much we've improved as a team," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said.
The Commodores couldn't sustain a hot start that had them leading by 10.
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