Thursday, February 21, 2008

Candace Parker helps lead No. 3 Tennessee past Alabama 85-58

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - On the day she announced that she’s leaving for the WNBA draft and Olympic play after the season, Candace Parker scored 19 points to help lead No. 3 Tennessee to an 85-58 win over Alabama on Thursday night.

The Lady Vols (24-2, 10-1 Southeastern Conference) opened fast and had a 21-point lead, 31-10 with 8:42 left to go in the first half.

Then the Crimson Tide (8-19, 1-11 SEC) went on a 17-7 run—with Parker and other Tennessee starters on the bench—to cut Tennessee’s lead to 11 points.

Then Tennessee sent the starters back in and led by 20 at 49-29 going into the half.

The Lady Vols came into Thursday’s game with a 39-2 advantage in the series, and have won 35 consecutive meetings. The last time Alabama beat the Lady Vols was in 1984.

Tennessee entered Thursday’s game fighting for an SEC championship, while Alabama was just trying to avoid ending up at the bottom of the conference for the second straight season.

Parker, the first woman to win a national slam dunk contest, announced earlier in the day that she will skip her final season at Tennessee for the chance to play professionally.

The redshirt junior will graduate at the end of this season and plans to participate in the Olympics and pursue a professional career, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. Parker redshirted her freshman season to recover from surgeries to repair a torn knee ligament.

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