Great eight for Tennessee
Parker leads Vols
to second straight national crown
TAMPA, Fla. — Though bruised and braced, an injured left shoulder hardly prevented Candace Parker from hoisting that championship trophy on high for one last time.
Parker scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Tennessee capture its eighth NCAA women’s basketball title with a 64-48 victory over Stanford on Tuesday night. The Lady Vols also became the first repeat champs since Connecticut won three straight from 2002-04.
"It’s been an emotional last three days, obviously, just rehabbing my shoulder," Parker said, "but it was all worth it to win an eighth national championship."
The Associated Press player of the year will leave the Lady Vols (36-2) with a year of eligibility remaining, but has accomplished one of her goals by winning multiple national titles.
"You know, it’s funny because some players don’t get one, and I’m fortunate enough to have two," Parker said with both hands raised and two fingers up on each. "It’s that simple. It’s that simple."
Parker also became the fourth player to win back-to-back Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four honors. She joined Connecticut’s Diana Taurasi (2003-04), Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw (1997-98), and Southern Cal’s Cheryl Miller (1983-84).
Stanford’s loss ended Candice Wiggins’ remarkable run through the NCAA tournament. She scored 14 points and finished with 151 over the six games — the fourth-best total in tournament history. Sheryl Swoopes holds the record with 177 points, when she led Texas Tech to the championship in 1993.
Wiggins ended her stellar career by taking the Cardinal (35-4) further than they’d been since 1992, when the program won it all.
"I’m sad that it’s over because of how much I love this program, this institution, this team, and my coaches teammates," Wiggins said, breaking into tears. "It’s that amazing. This season, I could not ever have dreamed of this, so it’s more than I could ever ask for."
Parker struggled with her shooting in the semifinals when she went just 6-for-27 from the field, but gutted out the championship game — not letting her injured shoulder bother her. For the second straight game, the All-American wore a long-sleeve shirt under her uniform to try, as she said, to not focus on the injury.
While still clearly not 100 percent healthy, the expected No. 1 pick in today’s WNBA draft didn’t shoot nearly as many jumpers as Sunday night, instead taking the ball to the basket on an array of moves. She converted one steal in the second half into a pretty layup that gave the Lady Vols’ a
10-point advantage. She then followed it up with a three-point play on a driving layup. The Cardinal, who had a season low for points, would get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
"No. 8, it’s all about this team," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "I’ve been very blessed with this team, these people I have around me."
Unlike earlier games in the tournament when Parker had to carry the Lady Vols, her supporting cast came through. Shannon Bobbitt scored 13 points and Nicky Anosike added 12 points, eight rebounds and six steals for the Lady Vols.