Tennesssee 57, Texas Tech 44
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Tamika Catchings couldn’t shoot Monday night. The All-American did just about everything else to make sure the Tennessee Lady Vols got back to the Final Four for a record 12th time.
Catchings, playing on a sprained right ankle much of the game, scored just seven points but grabbed 16 rebounds in helping top-seeded Tennessee hold off Texas Tech 57-44 in the NCAA Mideast Regional final.
For awhile, the game looked like a replay of last year’s East Regional final, when Tennessee’s star player, Chamique Holdslaw, couldn’t hit a shot. The Lady Vols lost that game to Duke, ending a run of three straight national championships.
But Catchings refused to let the Lady Vols (31-3) lose to Texas Tech (28-5).
The 6-foot-1 forward was everywhere, tipping away passes, taking charges and matching her career high on the boards. She had three steals and handed out six assists.
Kara Lawson led Tennessee with 13 points. Michelle Snow and Semeka Randall each had 12 points for the Lady Vols, now a perfect 7-of-7 in regional finals played in Tennesse.
Texas Tech hasn’t been to the Final Four since 1993, when Sheryl Swoopes led the Lady Raiders to a national championship in their one and only appearance. The Lady Raiders used their defense to harass Tennessee into one of its worst shooting performances this season.