Thursday, November 15, 2007

Candace Parker and Shannon Bobbitt lead No. 1 Tennessee past No. 8 Oklahoma 70-67

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tennessee coach Pat Summitt turned to her experienced players and it paid off.

Candace Parker had 28 points, Shannon Bobbitt scored 22 of her career-high 27 points in the second half and No. 1 Tennessee beat No. 9 Oklahoma 70-67 on Thursday night.

Bobbitt secured the win with two free throws to put Tennessee up 70-67 with 1 second to play, after the Lady Vols forced a jump ball on Oklahoma's previous possession.

"We had to go with our veterans," Summitt said. "Our freshmen played like freshmen, but that's OK. They're going to get better. With the schedule we have, they don't have any choice."

After Oklahoma went ahead 67-66 on Courtney Paris' basket with a half-minute left, Tennessee (2-0) took the lead for good on two free throws by Alexis Hornbuckle with 26.7 seconds to go.

Paris had 19 points and Danielle Robinson added 14 for Oklahoma (0-2), which was coming off a season-opening 76-66 loss to then fourth-ranked Maryland on Sunday.

"I thought our young guys handled the grand stage and the pressure and everything that goes with it beautifully," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "I'm really, really thankful that we had this opportunity to face this team here in November."

Tennessee outscored Oklahoma 8-3 to take a 63-55 advantage with five minutes remaining. Bobbitt completed the stretch with a 3-pointer.

"I just took what the defense gave me," Bobbitt said. "They definitely crowded Candace, and Candace did a great job of finding me. My teammates did a great job and I just had to knock down the shots."

Bobbitt hit 9-of-15 shots, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

"We knew that it was going to be a battle of the front-line tonight," Parker said. "Obviously, with both Paris twins, they're a very established front line, so we just had to battle."

Paris scored four points during a late Oklahoma charge to cut the deficit to 65-63 with two minutes left. Amanda Thompson then tied it at 65 on two free throws less than a minute later.

Robinson keyed a 5-0 run that pulled Oklahoma to 55-54 at the 8-minute mark.

"I'm actually nervous before every game, but it's just another basketball game and I've been playing basketball pretty much my whole life," said Robinson, a freshman.

Thompson had a 3-point play during a 13-8 stretch, helping Oklahoma overcome a three-point halftime deficit and take a 42-40 lead with 16 minutes left.

Tennessee trailed 15-8 midway through the first half, but put together a 16-7 run to go up 24-22 with four minutes left in the half. Parker tied it at 22-all with an in-close basket before Alex Fuller hit two free throws to give the Lady Vols a two-point cushion.

Tennessee scored five of the last seven points in the first half to take a 32-29 lead at halftime. Bobbitt hit a 3 and Parker, who was fouled with 1 second remaining, made two of three free throws.

Parker finished the first half with 18 points. She hit 7-of-10 shots.


John said...

What I loved about this game was the hard fight the LVols sustained thru the entire game. I was surprised at the rebounding statistics, because we fought hard on the boards despite the Paris Twin Towers. As coach said, this character bodes well for the season - PLENTY of upside on the offense, besides Candace & Shannons' terrific showing!
-- John Bohstedt, Knoxville

Anna Baker, Winter Haven, FL said...

I was lucky enough to be at the game. It was a very exciting game. They all played great. After a while I lost count of how many 3-point shots were made by 00.