By Richard Deitsch
April 04, 2007
NCAA Championship Grades
Tennessee 59, Rutgers 46
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Matee Ajavon, G
37 min., 8 points, (3-9 FG, 2-5 3PT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 fouls, 4 turnovers
Rutgers needed a big night from its junior star but Ajavon was not much of a factor after the break. I've got a feeling this game will motivate her to great things next season.
Epiphanny Prince, G
26 min., 2 points (0-0 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 turnovers
Finally, she showed her age. The freshman, who averaged 12.5 points this season, did not attempt a shot from the field and made a mental mistake with a turnover late in the first half. She picked up her third foul in the first minute of the second half and looked overmatched all night. This Prince will rise again -- there's plenty of talent here.
Heather Zurich, F
23 min. 4 points (2-6 FG), 1 rebound. 1 steals
The city of Zurich was more of a factor.
Essence Carson, F
40 min., 8 points (4-11 FG, 0-3 3PT), 6 rebounds, 4 fouls
Carson gave up four inches to Candace Parker as her primary defender and did a honest job on the Tennessee star. But, Carson had little impact on offense.
Kia Vaughn, C
34 min., 20 points (9-15 FG), 10 rebounds (7 offensive), 3 steals, 4 turnovers
The most active player on the floor for Rutgers. She was a force inside but mostly went at it alone. When she went out, Tennessee had its way inside.
The Bench
40 min., 4 points (2-8 FG, 0-2 3PT), 6 rebounds, 4 fouls
There are plenty of freshmen on Rutgers' bench and unfortunately none were named Greg Oden or Mike Conley Jr. Backup center Rashidat Junaid helped slow down LSU center Sylvia Fowles but she looked overmatched against Nicky Anosike and Parker.
C. Vivian Stringer, Coach
Stringer got more out of this team than she could ever have imagined. No team seeded fourth or lower has ever won this tournament and it was a tall order to beat a gifted Tennessee team with Rutgers' five freshmen and three sophomores. Stringer could not come up with anything to combat Tennessee's size, especially with an untimely night of cold shooting (Rutgers was 2-of-10 from beyond the arc.) Stringer opted not to press on defense until deep into the second half. Too little, too late. Her team looked overmatched and a little scared. That's the downside of being young.
Tennessee Lady Vols
Sidney Spencer, F
36 min., 11 points (4-12 FG, 1-4 3PT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists
Spencer is one of those glue players every team needs to win. Though Rutgers center Kia Vaughn had a good night, Spencer at least made her work for it. She hit a big -- make that BIG -- three-pointer with just less than two minutes to go in the first half to extend the Lady Vols' lead to 27-18.
Candace Parker, F
39 min., 17 points (5-15 FG, 7-10 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists
Championship games define great players. Parker was not spectacular but she was ruthlessly efficient. She showed off her passing skills by finding open cutters and gave Tennessee a boost by scoring the team's first four points of the second half. Parker snagged a huge offensive rebound with 1:45 left and hit six straight free throws in the final two minutes to put the game on ice. What's next? Perhaps another title next April.
Nicky Anosike, C
34 min., 4 points (2-9 FG), 16 rebounds (10 offensive), 2 assists
Behold, the distaff Dennis Rodman. The junior was demonic on the boards. She had three offensive rebounds in the first 4:38 and eight rebounds in the first half. She finished with 16 rebounds. That's 16 rebounds in a final. Anosike received a standing ovation when coach Pat Summitt removed her with 48-seconds left. The three letters I would give her: M-O-P. Instead, she'll have to settle for the one below.
Shannon Bobbitt, G
32 min., 13 points (4-9 FG, 4-8 3PT), 3 rebounds, 3 steals
She opened the game with a three-pointer and her timely shooting deflated Rutgers. Bobbitt had three second-half three-pointers in a span of 2:43, including a dagger with just less than 12 minutes left to push the lead to 41-28. She even had an offensive rebound. No big deal, you say? Bobbitt is 5-foot-2 on a good day. Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer will be seeing those three-pointers in her sleep.
Alexis Hornbuckle, G
37 min., 4 points (2-8 FG), 7 rebounds, 7 turnovers
Hornbuckle was not a scoring factor in the championship, but she is arguably the nation's best-rebounding guard. She pulled down seven boards and made life tough for Rutgers star Matee Ajavon.
The Bench
22 min., 10 points (3-5 FG), 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 1 steal
How big was reserve shooting guard Alberta Auguste? She was 4-of-5 from the field in the first half and also grabbed five rebounds. The Lady Vols basically played six players on the night. That's all they needed.
Pat Summitt, Coach
Summitt probably won her seventh national title three years ago when Parker, Hornbuckle and Anoiske arrived on campus. She got a number of players involved early -- especially Bobbitt -- and drilled her players on how to handle Rutgers when the Scarlet Knights went to zone. The Tennessee bench got a warning for being too demonstrative. That was the only misstep by Pat's crew all night.

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