Sunday, February 27, 2005

No. 5 Tennessee 94, Alabama 81

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Coach Pat Summitt has been waiting for Alexis Hornbuckle to make a difference in a Tennessee game.

Hornbuckle never missed a shot, scoring 17 points as the fifth-ranked Lady Vols (23-4, 13-1 Southeastern Conference) routed Alabama 94-71 Sunday in the regular-season finale.

Tennessee finished second in the SEC standings behind undefeated LSU (14-0), who snapped the Lady Vols streak of seven straight regular-season titles.

``Hornbuckle is a player I've really been hard on because I think she can be a difference-maker,'' Summitt said. ``She was a coach difference-maker today.''

Hornbuckle went 5-for-5 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.

``I though I played pretty well,'' Hornbuckle said. ``I needed this game. I really haven't been playing that well or shooting that well.''

Shyra Ely and Nicky Anosike scored 19 points each to lead the Lady Vols.

Shanna Zolman scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half. Her 3-pointer with 11:17 left in the first half broke a 17-17 tie and put the Lady Vols ahead to stay.

Zolman, who went 3-of-4 from behind the arc, hit two more 3-pointers in the final 3:23 before intermission. Tennessee lead by as many as 21 before taking a 52-36 lead at the break.

The Lady Vols shot 58 percent and made 30-of-35 free throws. Ely and Anosike combined for 12-of-18 shooting.

Alabama (13-14, 4-10) got more than half of its scoring from two players -- Natasha Gamble had 23 and Monique Bivins added 22. The Crimson Tide shot 9-of-30 from 3-point range.

Gamble's 3-pointer with 17:13 left cut Tennessee's lead to 56-45, and the Crimson Tide got closer only once in the second half when Navonda Moore hit two free throws to trail 75-65.

Hornbuckle came back with a 3-pointer 23 seconds later to extend the lead.

``It's been a good SEC run for the team with only one loss,'' Summitt said. ``I think this team right now is more focused on winning the SEC tournament.''

The SEC tournament begins Friday in Greenville, S.C.

It was the last regular-season home game for Crimson Tide coach Rick Moody, who announced his retirement last week effective at the end of the season.

``I need to be the one who says 'thanks,''' Moody said. ``I have been blessed.''

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