Women's Hoops Falls Short of Final Four, 57-44|
March 27, 2000
By TERESA M. WALKER
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Tamika Catchings couldn't shoot Monday night. The All-American did just about everything else to make sure the Tennessee Lady Vols got back to the Final Four for a record 12th time.
Catchings, playing on a sprained right ankle much of the game, scored just seven points but grabbed 16 rebounds in helping top-seeded Tennessee hold off Texas Tech 57-44 in the NCAA Mideast Regional final.
For awhile, the game looked like a replay of last year's East Regional final, when Tennessee's star player, Chamique Holdslaw, couldn't hit a shot. The Lady Vols lost that game to Duke, ending a run of three straight national championships.
But Catchings refused to let the Lady Vols (31-3) lose to Texas Tech (28-5).
The 6-foot-1 forward was everywhere, tipping away passes, taking charges and matching her career high on the boards. She had three steals and handed out six assists.
Kara Lawson led Tennessee with 13 points. Michelle Snow and Semeka Randall each had 12 points for the Lady Vols, now a perfect 7-of-7 in regional finals played in Tennesse.
Texas Tech hasn't been to the Final Four since 1993, when Sheryl Swoopes led the Lady Raiders to a national championship in their one and only appearance. The Lady Raiders used their defense to harass Tennessee into one of its worst shooting performances this season.
Tennessee led most of the game, but Texas Tech got within 42-40 at 8:37 on a basket by Aleah Johnson. Randall scored six points in a 10-2 spurt that sealed the victory for Tennessee.
Johnson led Texas Tech with 12 points. Plenette Pierson had all 10 of her points in the first half.
Tennessee had routed Furman, Arizona and Virginia to reach the regional
final, and the Lady Vols looked like they would add Texas Tech to the list in
the opening minutes as they jumped ahead 12-4 behind five points from Lawson.
But Texas Tech got Snow into quick foul trouble, and she went to the bench at 14:11. With the 6-foot-5 Snow sitting, the Lady Raiders started heading to the basket. Pierson scored eight of her 10 up close.
Tennessee had more trouble midway through the half.
Catchings landed awkwardly on her right foot after missing a jumper from near the free throw line, badly wrenching her ankle with 10:17 left before halftime. The pro-Tennessee crowd fell silent as she was helped off the court by a team official and team trainer Jenny Moshak.
It was the same court and almost the same spot where Cincinnati star Kenyon Martin broke his right leg 2 1/2 weeks ago during the Conference USA men's tournament.
Catchings' ankle was wrapped heavily and she returned to the game with 3:02 left in the half.