Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bobbitt comes up big for Tennessee in title game

CLEVELAND - Size matters? Try and tell that to Shannon Bobbitt.

Tennessee's mighty 5-2 dynamo stood tall in the NCAA Tournament championship game, scoring 13 points to help the Lady Vols win their seventh national title with a 59-46 victory over Rutgers.

The shortest player ever offered a scholarship to Tennessee, Bobbitt shredded the Scarlet Knights with three 3-pointers in under three minutes midway through the second half to break the game open.

"I am speechless," said Bobbitt, who a year ago was named the WBCA Junior/Community College Player of the Year after leading Trinity Valley (Texas) Community to the 2006 Region XIV championship. "I'm getting so overwhelmed right now."

It's easy to understand why since Bobbitt and teammate Alberta Auguste were the first junior college players signed by Tennessee coach Pat Summitt since 1977.

"Watching Tennessee play, I always wanted to be on this team," Bobbitt said. "Now that I'm here, I'm so happy."

In a bit of irony, Bobbitt was matched up against Rutgers freshman Epiphanny Prince, a former high school teammate who scored 113 points in a game last year.

This time it was Bobbitt who delivered the big shots - most of them coming at the expense of Prince.

The Lady Vols were nursing a 35-28 lead when Bobbitt took over the game with 13 minutes to play.

She buried consecutive 3-pointers to build the lead to 13 and then forced a steal that led to a layup by Alexis Hornbuckle for a 43-28 cushion.

"I didn't want to let this game out of my hands," Bobbitt said. "I just wanted to play hard-nosed defense."

The junior guard did that and more, nailing another shot from the arc to build the lead to 46-30 with 10:13 to play and force Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer to call a timeout.

"Definitely, I wanted the ball," Bobbitt said. "A great shooter is going to always want the ball. I had to leave everything out on the floor."

Any chance of a comeback by Rutgers was snuffed out when Lady Vols superstar Candace Parker hit six straight free throws down the stretch.

"Candace is capable of a 50-point performance. You are witnessing the best player in the world," Stringer said. "But I'll tell you what broke our backs. It wasn't Candace Parker, I think we could have withstood that.

"The person that broke our back was Bobbitt."

No comments: