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Tennessee women rout Purdue; give Summitt 100th win

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


AP Sports Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE -- Pat Summitt's 100th NCAA tournament win followed the same old formula Tuesday night.

Start fast, play suffocating defense, and roll into the regional semifinals with another blowout.

Two days after Summitt publicly challenged her team to play harder, the Lady Vols responded with a dominant defensive effort, a crisper offense and a 78-52 rout of host Purdue that gave Summitt the distinction of being the first coach in Division I basketball -- men's or women's -- to join the tourney's 100-win club.

"I don't think about numbers personally, but for the team, we've never not been to the Sweet 16 and I didn't want this team to be the first that didn't advance," Summitt said.

Tennessee (32-2) now makes its 27th consecutive regional semifinal appearance Sunday in Oklahoma City against either fourth-seeded Oklahoma or fifth-seeded Notre Dame.

However, it was the Vols' defensive performance, not the milestone, that drew Summitt's greatest praise.

"I just got done telling the team, that was about 30 minutes of the best defense we have played all season," she said.

Of course, Summitt probably would have preferred it continued for 40 minutes. Then again, that's why she also holds the Division I victories record with 979.

The atmosphere inside Purdue's home venue was just what Summitt wanted. She applauded the loud crowd that filled the lower bowl of Mackey Arena with a mix mostly of Tennessee orange and Purdue's old gold and black, dueling bands and an energetic crowd.

It was far better than the show the fans endured.

For a while, it looked as if the Lady Vols might even have a special commendation for Summitt: most lopsided second-round victory. But ninth-seeded Purdue (19-15) began closing the 33-point gap in the final 10 minutes and avoided the indignity of breaking Summitt's personal second-round record -- a 41-point victory over Rutgers in 1992.

The lackluster finish sure didn't delay the celebration.

When Tennessee's players stepped off the team bus, they were surrounded by the pep band playing "Rocky Top." The party continued even after Summitt finally yanked her starters for good in the final four minutes. By then Candace Parker had 24 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and Alexis Hornbuckle had 14 points, five assists and eight of the Vols' 15 steals -- and Summitt had her achievement.

It was never even close.

Purdue, the Big Ten tournament champs and a regional finalist last year, was led by Keshia Mosley with 14 points and Kalika France with 10. But the Boilermakers shot only 37.3 percent from the field and committed 24 turnovers against full-court pressure.

"We didn't come out prepared in the beginning," Mosley said. "We were shaky on plays. But we got stronger near the end of the first half and at the beginning of the second half."

Not nearly enough to contend with the Lady Vols.

Tennessee scored the first six points, extended the lead to 15-6, then ran off nine more points to take a 24-6 lead midway through the first half.

Purdue's problems only got worse.

It couldn't block out, winding up on the low end of a 41-28 rebounding disparity.

It couldn't make baskets or take care of the ball, finishing the first half with nearly twice as many turnovers (15) as field goals (eight). The Boilers also endured an eight-minute field goal drought during the first half and went nearly 11 minutes before someone other than Mosley scored a point.

Purdue lost to three of the No. 1 seeds -- Connecticut, North Carolina and Tennessee -- this season, but second-year coach Sharon Versyp saw no player better than Parker.

"We have gone against some great players," Versyp said. "Parker's a kid that has so much length and can play one through five, that's why she's so difficult to guard. She's extremely smooth. She is, obviously, one of the best players who has played the game."

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