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Tennessee women motivated by NCAA doubters

TAMPA — From Tennessee's vantage point, it seemed as if the world was pulling against it.

Many fans and most analysts said Stanford would defeat the Vols, which didn't sit well with the defending national champs.

"I'm telling you, it was a personal thing for them," coach Pat Summitt said. "The fact that all of the ESPN talent — we got Kara Lawson, who played at Tennessee — not giving us a chance. I mean that just really fired them up And it was probably the best thing that could happen to us."

Tennessee won Tuesday with one of its best defensive efforts, forcing Stanford into a season-high 25 turnovers and allowing 38.8 percent shooting (27.3 percent on 3-pointers). Many had questioned whether the Vols could stop high-powered Stanford.

"A lot of people underestimate our defense," junior Candace Parker said. "And when you get on the court with us, it's a little bit different than what you see on TV or anything like that. So I think we did a good job collectively defensively, just making them work for shots. And then we knew that our fullcourt press really would bother them and take some time off the clock."

NO REGRETS: Much was made of Stanford senior Candice Wiggins and her quest to make it to the Final Four after a standout career that was often overshadowed because she played on the West Coast. But Wiggins said she wouldn't trade anything for the experience.

"I told the guys in the locker room that I couldn't be any prouder of them," Wiggins said. "I wouldn't want to be on any other team in the country, any other team. And it happens that we ended our season with a loss and that hurts because we wanted it. This team is a special team, just beautiful people. And I've been so honored just to be on this team."

CARDINAL WILL BE BACK: Stanford looks strong, losing only one senior starter in Wiggins.

"We have basically freshmen and sophomores who can only look back and say, 'Wow,' " coach Tara VanDerveer said. "It was awesome. And they learned how to do things. And to get to the Final Four and play in this game, I'm thrilled for our team."

THE BRUSH-OFF: That brushing of the shoulder gesture some of the Vols did immediately after the game was aimed at the critics.

"That was called brushing off," senior guard Alexis Hornbuckle said. "It's just about brushing off the haters, for all our critics out there."

RATINGS UP: Television ratings for the NCAA championship game and the entire tournament were up. Tennessee's win over Stanford on ESPN earned a 3.0 rating, up 30 percent from the 2.3 for last season's Tennessee-Rutgers game. For the tournament, ESPN games averaged 1.4, compared with 1.0 in 2007. The average rating for ESPN2 games went from 0.5 to 0.6.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tennessee women motivated by NCAA doubters 04/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 12:25pm]
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