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Vols take step toward redeeming season

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Volunteers know many people expect little from them in this year's NCAA Tournament. They're still aiming to make a run at the national championship that has eluded them.

Led by its senior class, 13th-ranked Tennessee blew confidently through the SEC tournament, capped by a 70-58 win against LSU on Sunday in the championship game.

"We want to show people we haven't stopped working," tournament MVP Glory Johnson said. "You should see a whole new mentality when we get out there. You should see it in our faces every time we step on the floor."

Johnson, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds, is one of five seniors trying to change their legacy after several early NCAA Tournament exits and a disappointing season by the Vols' standards. Tennessee (24-8), which won the last of its eight national titles in 2008 by beating Stanford in Tampa, lost a program-worst three times at home and got routed in several road games.

Johnson, Shekinna Stricklen and the rest of the seniors pulled together to lead the team to its 16th conference tournament title. Tennessee fans cheered "We back Pat" after the win in honor of coach Pat Summitt, who announced before the season she'd been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.

More tournaments

ACC: Alyssa Thomas scored a career-high 29 and blocked a shot in the final minute that helped preserve No. 6 Maryland's 68-65 victory over No. 15 Georgia Tech in the title game in Greensboro, N.C. The third-seeded Terrapins (28-4) claimed their league-record 10th tournament title and denied the fourth-seeded Yellow Jackets (24-8) their first.

BIG EAST: Taylor Palmer scored all of her 11 in the second half to help West Virginia (23-7) beat No. 12 Georgetown (22-8) 39-32 in the quarterfinals in Hartford, Conn. The teams set the tournament record for fewest combined points in a game. … Devereaux Peters had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks to lead No. 3 Notre Dame (29-2) to a 69-54 win over DePaul (22-10). … Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 15 of her 17 in the first half as No. 4 Connecticut (27-4) beat No. 23 Rutgers (22-9) 49-34. … Shenneika Smith scored 24 and No. 18 St. John's (22-8) beat No. 20 Louisville (22-9) 68-61 in overtime.

BIG TEN: KK Houser scored 19 to help No. 21 Purdue (24-8) defeat No. 24 Nebraska (24-8) 74-70 in two overtimes in the tournament final in Indianapolis.

Elsewhere

NO. 2 STANFORD 86, CAL 61: The visiting Cardinal (28-1, 18-0 Pac-12) capped its third straight unbeaten conference season.

TEXAS 79, NO. 17 TEXAS A&M 64: The host Longhorns swept the defending national champion Aggies (20-9, 11-7 Big 12).

NO. 19 ST. BONAVENTURE 78, SAINT JOSEPH'S 52: The Bonnies (29-2) advanced to today's Atlantic 10 finals in Philadelphia.

.FAST FACTS

NCAA bids

Fla. Gulf Coast Atlantic Sun

Maryland ACC

Purdue Big Ten

Tennessee SEC

Tenn.-Martin Ohio Valley

Vols take step toward redeeming season 03/04/12 [Last modified: Sunday, March 4, 2012 11:47pm]

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