Tennessee Takes On Pittsburgh In Panthers' Home
Pitt is 11-2 at the Petersen Events Center this season
March 19, 2007
(AP) - Tennessee has been unbeatable in the opening two rounds of the NCAA tournament, and after winning their first-round game to keep that streak alive, the Lady Volunteers look to advance to the round of 16 for the 26th straight season.
It will be a bit of a challenge for No. 1 seed Tennessee, though, as the Vols play No. 8 seed Pittsburgh on the Panthers' homecourt Tuesday.
Tennessee is the only school to make the NCAA tournament all 26 years it has been played and has never failed to reach the round of 16. To get to the Dayton Regional semifinals this season, the Vols will have to win at the Petersen Events Center, despite Pittsburgh being a lower-seeded team.
The Vols, however, haven't had a problem in the first and second round in the past, improving to 39-0 in such games with a 76-37 win over Drake on Sunday. The 16th-seeded Bulldogs kept the game close in the first half before Tennessee (29-3) took control with a dominating run that spanned both halves.
After Drake pulled to within seven points with 2:21 remaining in the first half, the Vols went on a 34-0 run that finally ended midway through the second half with Tennessee up 55-14.
"At the half, someone said, 'What's the deal? What's wrong?'" Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "It's postseason play. They came out and matched our intensity. ... At least we executed well in the second half."
Five players reached double figures for the Vols, led by Alexis Hornbuckle's 14 points. Tennessee shot 60.6 percent in the second half after managing to shoot just 38.5 percent in the first 20 minutes. Before Sunday, the Vols hadn't played since a loss to LSU in the SEC tournament on March 3.
"Having been off for a while caused us to come out anxious," Vols forward Candace Parker said. "We settled down in the second half and ran our offensive sets and ran them right."
While the Vols have always been a regular in the regional semifinals, Pittsburgh (24-8) is just now beginning to build its tradition in the sport. The Panthers have set a school record for wins and beat No. 9 seed James Madison 71-61 in the program's first NCAA tournament game on Sunday.
"I told my athletic director, Jeff Long, before this game, 'I just want to win this one. I just want to win this one,'" said coach Agnus Berenato, in her fourth year at Pittsburgh. "Now I'm getting greedy and I want to win Tuesday night, too."
Pitt center Marcedes Walker, Berenato's first big recruit to the program, had 20 points and 15 rebounds in Sunday's historic win. Walker was a first-team all-Big East selection after averaging 15.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in the regular season.
"We kept telling her we would build our program around her," Berenato said of the 6-foot-3, 257-pound junior. "Build it and they will come. She set the tone tonight and showed she is a big-time player. She picked up this team and put it on her back."
Pitt is 11-2 at the Petersen Events Center this season.
Tennessee leads the all-time series 3-0, but these teams haven't met since 1984.