Sunday, November 12, 2006

(5) Tennessee 102, Chattanooga 72

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's Candace Parker opened the season by giving the home crowd something new to cheer about.

Parker dunked for the third time in her career during the fifth-ranked Lady Vols' 102-72 victory Sunday over Chattanooga, and the first time in Thompson-Boling Arena. She is the fourth woman to dunk in a college game.

With Tennessee leading Chattanooga 75-43 in the second half, the preseason All-American stole the ball from Brooke Hand near the sideline. Parker dribbled to the other end of the court and slammed it in with her right hand with 16:01 remaining.

"I know that Thompson-Boling has never seen a dunk here at home, so it's great the support we had, and the fans and their excitement and enthusiasm really helped us out tonight," she said.

Parker dunked twice against Army last season in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Her dunk is the fifth in Lady Vols history.

"I just kind of wanted to come out today and just set the tone. I think we did that both from a defensive end and an offensive end. Hopefully this puts a stamp on it," Parker said.

The Lady Mocs (1-1) were in the game early, but a big run by Tennessee in the first half put the game out of reach. The Lady Vols were hot offensively, shooting 33-of-57 from the field.

Tennessee fans were focusing on the Lady Vols debuting four new players, including junior college transfer Shannon Bobbitt at point guard, when Parker stunned the crowd with the slam.

Parker joins former Tennessee player Michelle Snow, North Carolina's Charlotte Smith and West Virginia's Georgeann Wells as women to dunk in a college game. Snow dunked three times, but never in Thompson-Boling Arena.

"It was probably a good thing to get that over with. I know she wanted to dunk at home for the Lady Vol fans. I'm sure that's the reason she took advantage of the opportunity," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.

Said Chattanooga coach Wes Moore: "More power to her. It's good for the game, and obviously she's a special player."

Alexis Hornbuckle led the Lady Vols with 19 points, and Parker added 15. Another juco transfer, Alberta Auguste, added 13, Bobbitt had 12, Dominique Redding 11 and Sidney Spencer 10.

Hand scored 20 for Chattanooga, going 6-of-13 from beyond the 3-point line. The Lady Mocs were 13-of-31 in 3-point shooting.

"I thought our team played hard from the defensive end and really generated a lot of opportunities on the offensive end. I thought they played well together. I liked the overall energy," Summitt said. "Just a great way for us to get started."

The Lady Mocs cut it to 25-19 with 10:55 remaining before halftime. But Parker rebounded her own miss and started a three-point play, and the Lady Vols were off on a 22-2 run. Chattanooga went scoreless for nearly 4 minutes during the run.

Bobbitt had a layup that capped the run and put Tennessee ahead 47-21 with 5:25 remaining before halftime.

Chattanooga had four turnovers in the first minute of the second half, and Tennessee increased its lead to 65-31.

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