1996-97 Tennessee Lady Vols

96-97 team
STANDING:    Kyra Elzy,    Tiffani Johnson,    LaShonda Stephens,
   Abby Conklin,    Pashen Thompson,    Kellie Jolly
SEATED:    Chamique Holdsclaw,    Brynae Laxton,    Laurie Milligan,
   Niya Butts,    Misty Greene


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This was a season to separate the fans from the bandwagon jumpers if there ever was one, and it was all recorded by HBO's documentary cameras for posterity. But when the final gun sounded, it was the Tennessee Lady Vols, once again, taking home the National Championship trophy--their fifth and second in a row. Tennessee accomplished the feat by recording a 68-59 win over an Old Dominion team that had beaten them in January and despite entering the tournament with 10 losses--a record for a championship team. Coach Pat Summitt summed it all up when she said, "Of all our runs to a championship, this one is really the most unexpected. It came from a team with tremendous heart and desire." In the title game, Tennessee started fast, mounting a 20-8 lead behind three quick transition layups by Niya Butts. Old Dominion was a talent-laden squad, but the Lady Vols managed to maintain that lead and entered halftime ahead 34-22. The second half found a determined Old Dominion team fighting back to finally take the lead at 44-43 with 9:06 left. The lead see-sawed from there until Chamique Holdsclaw, with ODU leading 49-47, scored a bucket, dished off assists to Pashen Thompson and Tiffani Johnson, then scored thrice herself, off an inbounds pass, on a layup, and with a reverse layup, to push UT to a 59-51 lead that they never relinquished. The LVs shot 59.2% for the game, some 16 points above their season average, and behind the long arms of Kyra Elzy and quickness of Butts, they forced All-American point guard Ticha Penicheiro into an atypical 11 turnovers. Holdsclaw was the unanimous choice as the Most Outstanding Player, netting 24 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in the final. Also named to the All-Championship team was Kellie Jolly, who set a championship game record with 11 assists and a Final Four record with 20. Senior Abby Conklin contributed 12 points, hitting 2-2 on 3-point attempts, while fellow senior Thompson added 8 points and 6 rebounds. It was an amazing end to a long season that tried patiences, as well as characters.

The season started with high hopes. True, backcourt leaders Michelle Marciniak and Latina Davis had graduated, but there was plenty of talent returning. The first hint of trouble came in October when sophomore Kellie Jolly, who was expected to battle junior Laurie Milligan for the starting point guard spot, tore her ACL. Whether or not she would see any action all season was in question. Nonetheless, The team opened the year with the Women's National Invitational Tournament and dismantled Austin Peay in Knoxville, 80-59, behind a 22 point performance by Milligan. They followed that with another home win, having their way with a Tamecka Dixon-led Kansas team, 79-60. Junior Tiffani Johnson equalled her career high with 18 points while nabbing 13 rebounds. These victories earned the LVs a trip to Ruston, LA for a match-up with eventual Final Four participant Notre Dame. Some hint of things to come surfaced in this game, as N.D. out-rebounded UT 47-43, the Ladies built leads as big as 19 points, but couldn't hold on to them. They did win, though, 72-59, behind Holdsclaw's 22 points and 12 rebounds. Next up was Louisiana Tech for the WNIT Championship. Tennessee fell behind by as many as 18 points but only trailed 40-32 at halftime. They did better in the second half, eventually taking the lead and turning the game into a see-saw battle. Still, the Lady Techsters prevailed, 64-62, despite Holdsclaw's 26 points and 13 caroms, as UT shot only 37% for the game. There was no time for the defending champs to fret, though, as they headed for the Howard Bank Classic at Burlington, Vermont.

In Vermont, they met the Marquette Golden Eagles and came away with Coach Summitt's 600th career win by an 83-68 score. The team shot a dismal 34% but owned the boards, 65-41. Tiffani Johnson led the scoring with a career high 24 points and added 15 rebounds. Sophomore Chamique Holdsclaw contributed 17 points and 15 boards. The win earned the Ladies a match with the hostesses, the Vermont Catamounts. Tennessee rolled out to a 51-24 halftime advantage, and never looked back, recording an 87-58 victory. Holdsclaw was named the Tournament MVP on the strength of her 24 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson and Laurie Milligan were also selected for the All-Tournament team. The team headed home, then, for a match-up with Wisconsin-Green Bay after the ceremonious distribution of championship rings and the hanging of banner number four. The Phoenix were sacrificial victims, falling 71-36.

Memphis came to town to open December and didn't go down quietly. UT led by only 32-31 at the half and found themselves trailing 40-36 early in the second stanza. Coach Summitt called timeout and righted the ship, though, and Tennessee ultimately prevailed, 79-63. Holdsclaw and Abby Conklin paced the scoring with 22 and 21 points, respectively. Five days later, the Georgia Lady Bulldogs came to town and treated the fans to one of the most exciting games of the year. The game was a rematch of the previous season's national championship game, and Georgia was determined to go home with a different result. The game featured the bizarre and the amazing. The bizarre was Georgia's virtual 8-point play. It began with 9:13 left in the game and UT leading 54-53. Laurie Milligan was hit with her fourth personal foul and her reaction netted her a technical foul, which was also personal number five and the end of her game. With the ensuing free throws, retained possession, and another dubious foul called on Tennessee, Georgia moved out to a 61-54 lead in a matter of seconds. UGA gradually built that lead, until, with 2:42 left, they led 72-61. At that point, the amazing happened. Holdsclaw decided enough was enough, and she went off on the Lady Bulldogs. 'Mique, in less than 3 minutes, scored 15 points, including two 3-pointers, forced two Georgia turnovers, and threaded a beautiful pass to Tiffani Johnson for a basket just before the buzzer to tie the game at 81-81. Holdsclaw had a little help as Abby Conklin also netted a couple of threes during the run. In the overtime, Holdsclaw and UGA's Kedra Holland-Corn were instrumental, as they had been all along, but Georgia came out on top, 94-93. Chamique had 34 points and 16 rebounds, while Holland-Corn netted 30 for the Lady Bulldogs. A week later the Lady Vols recorded a historic first when they faced the #1-ranked Stanford Cardinal--they lost consecutive games at Thompson-Boling Arena. Stanford began the game hitting 11 of 13 shots and never looked back. UT fans will long remember the shooting performance of Kate Starbird, who netted 29 for the game. Holdsclaw tried her best to keep up, scoring 24, but she only hit 1-12 in the second half and got no help from her teammates. The Cardinal took home the "W," 82-65. It was Tennessee's worst home loss in almost ten years.

There was little time to regroup before taking on Texas Tech in Lubbock, but Coach Summitt shook up the lineup, inserting frosh Niya Butts and sophomore Brynae Laxton as starters. Tiffani Johnson sat out the game for disciplinary reasons. UT missed 9 of their first 10 shots on the way to a 30% shooting half, but when they did hit, it was like as not a 3-pointer over Tech's matchup zone defense. For the game the LVs set a record for threes and 3-point attempts, finishing with 11-26 from behind the arc. Conklin came off the bench to lead the way in that category, hitting 6-11 on the way to 26 points, thus getting herself out of Summitt's doghouse. Despite the scoring struggles in the first half, the team played solid defense and went in at the half leading 36-27. The Lady Raiders managed to stay even the rest of the way, but it was too little too late as their 33-game home winning streak was broken, 79-71. Meanwhile, the undefeated Texas Longhorns lay in wait in Austin. For the second game in a row, UT went into battle without Pashen Thompson, who was in Philadelphia, MS, where her grandmother was ill. UT's shooting remained cold in Texas, even the threes weren't falling in Austin. Texas's pressing woman-to-woman defense had something to do with that. Conklin dropped off to 2-12 from the field. Fortunately, Holdsclaw, despite needing an ankle re-taped in the second half, managed 12-22 for 24 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Texas wasn't doing much better offensively, and at the end of regulation time, the score was 59-59. The Ladies kept battling and behind a couple of Holdsclaw buckets in the OT pulled out the victory, 68-65. It would be eight days until the team's next outing, at Arkansas, but they were off to a good start on what amounted to an extended six game road trip.

The Lady Vols went to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to play their last game of 1996 and came away with an SEC record of 0-2, losing 77-75. The Lady 'Backs, behind torrid three-point shooting jumped out to an early lead but UT came back, and a see-saw battle ensued with Tennessee leading at the half by only 36-35. Arkansas ran off a 13-0 run at the start of the second half and it was an uphill battle for Tennessee the rest of the way. The LVs were shooting better as a team, but Holdsclaw was being defended by Sytia Messer and would end up with the lowest point total of her career--5 points. She also fouled out with 3:25 left. Even though UT won the board battle, 51-32, last second shots by Conklin and Elzy fell short, and a Lady Razorback celebration was in order as they had beaten UT for the first time ever. Tennessee then traveled to Philadelphia for a January 2 meeting with St. Joseph's. Appearing sluggish, UT struggled and trailed at the half, 24-21. St. Joe's began the second stanza with a 15-2 run, and the Lady Vols were on the ropes. They responded by hitting the boards hard and by game's end had a 39-28 rebounding advantage and a 64-52 victory. The unlikely heroines in the comeback were Pashen Thompson and Misty Greene. Thompson threw in 13 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, while Greene broke the Hawks' back with four of her specialty 3-point bombs. The road trip was not about to get any easier though as Connecticut and Old Dominion were waiting.

Before 16,294 at the Hartford Civic Center, the Lady Vols experienced another woeful shooting performance (30.7%) and added 24 turnovers for bad measure. A well-executed Connecticut game plan that featured the dribble penetration of Shea Ralph combined with an aggressive pressing defense was enough to saddle Tennessee with their fifth loss of the season, 72-57. Afterwards, Chamique Holdsclaw opined that "There's a lot of tradition to uphold. You don't want to be on a team that goes out and sets all these bad records." Holdsclaw did her part with 23 points and 12 boards, but the other four starters managed to tally a total of 10 points. Oddly, UT won the rebounding battle, 51-37, while losing the war. Pashen Thompson had 14 of those caroms. Things wouldn't get any easier, though, as the Ladies went directly from their meeting with #1 to meet #2, Old Dominion, in Norfolk, VA. The Lady Monarchs had not beaten Tennessee in fourteen years and fifteen trys. It was an odd game. Holdsclaw scored 16 of the LVs first 18 points. ODU led by as many as seven in the first half, but UT led at halftime, 35-33. ODU had 17 turnovers in the half, which served to negate their 20-10 rebound advantage and their 60% shooting. After halftime, Tennessee came out and built a 47-37 lead. But then, The Lady Vols were whistled for six consecutive fouls in one minute and 18 seconds. After that, the score was 49-47 in ODU's favor. Things went downhill from there, and eventually, Pashen Thompson, Tiffani Johnson, and Laurie Milligan fouled out. Holdsclaw had 27 points, and Tennessee shot an unaccustomed 49%. It wasn't enough, though, as ODU hit 59%, outrebounded UT, 40-24, and won the game, 83-72. Ticha Penicheiro led the Lady Monarchs with 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. Clarisse Machanguana added 22 points. The tear-filled scene in the locker room after the game was caught for posterity by the HBO cameras. Still, with a record of 10-6, the season's low point had not quite been reached.

The Lady Vols returned to Knoxville for a two-game home stand. SEC foe Kentucky was up first. This game featured Kellie Jolly's first appearance of the season, as she had made a remarkable recovery from her knee surgery. Jolly played 17 minutes and tallied 6 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals. The starting point guard, Laurie Milligan had 6 assists and 5 steals herself, so fans had a good feeling about the crucial point position for the remainder of the season. Kentucky led early, but UT grabbed the lead for themselves shortly after Jolly entered the game and never relinquished it, winning 84-61. Tiffani Johnson led all UT scorers with 19 points while Holdsclaw netted 17 and Conklin had 16. Purdue came to town next and a tradition was started. Fans got to their seats and found a card there urging them to stand at the beginning of each half and clap and make noise until Tennessee scored. It was done and has been done ever since. Purdue limped in with only 7 scholarship players. Sophomore Stephanie White was their leader, but track-star Corissa Yasen put on quite a performance for the Knoxville folks, singlehandedly keeping Purdue in the game. UT could not shake the Boilermakers. They pushed the lead to 19 at one point, but Purdue kept clawing back. Although the LVs led the entire game, the margin of victory was only 72-60. Yasen scored 23 for Purdue, while Holdsclaw had 19 on 7-17 shooting. It wasn't impressive, but it was a win. The Ladies immediately packed their bags again and headed out for Nashville for the first of another three games on the road.

The Vanderbilt contest was a foul-plagued and turnover-filled affair. Each team had 24 of the latter, while Vandy was whistled for 33 fouls and UT 21. It was a see-saw battle most of the way which, fittingly, ended in a regulation tie, 71-71. Tiff Johnson had a career day, hitting 8-9 field goals and 8-8 free throws for 24 points while grabbing 11 rebounds, all this in regulation. In the overtime, UT scored a school record 21 points, hitting 13-13 from the foul stripe on the way to a 92-79 victory. Laurie Milligan paced the Ladies in OT, scoring 10 of her 20 points in the extra period, including 6-6 free throws. She was 10-10 from the charity line on the day. Holdsclaw sat most of the first half with foul trouble, and Conklin played despite a painful broken toe. They each netted 14 points. UT then went to Gainesville, FL for their third game in five days, facing Carol Ross's Lady Gators. Florida had never beaten the Lady Vols in their history--until this night. Florida jumped out 9-0 and never trailed in the game. Holdsclaw had 24 points, but she was the only starter to hit a field goal. For the game, Tennessee shot 35% and had 23 turnovers. The final score was 71-62, Florida. Fourth-ranked Alabama was the next road opponent, and it turned out to be a pivotal point in the season. It was a game in which Holdsclaw scored her 1000th career point, yet didn't start as Summitt sent a message to the team that they were relying too much on the sophomore. UT didn't grab a lead in the game until less than six minutes remained. It was Holdsclaw and Abby Conklin who combined for 10 points in a run to overtake the Tide. The two worked the two-player game to perfection in the latter part of the game, and it was enough to put the Ladies over the top and into the win column for the 17th straight time against 'Bama, 63-60. Holdsclaw finished with 22 points, to tie 'Bama's Dominique Canty for game honors, while Conklin added 16 points and matched Holdsclaw's 8 rebounds. Shalonda Enis had 16 points and 10 boards for the Tide. Almost lost in the thrill of victory was the fact that Laurie Milligan went down with a knee injury in the final minute of the game. It wasn't believed to be serious, but this turned out to be Milligan's last appearance of the season except for a cameo in Cincinnati.

Home was a welcome sight for the 14-7 Lady Vols. DePaul was the first visitor. Their star Kim Williams put on quite a show for the 10,978 LV fans, setting two T-B Arena records (42 FGA and 17 FGM) as she scored 41 points. Meanwhile, Holdsclaw netted 26 points herself, pulled down 18 rebounds, and recorded five steals. UT led 50-36 at the half, as Williams sat out the latter part of it with three fouls. Tennessee managed to build a 20 point lead, but DePaul kept coming back behind Williams. The Ladies held on, though, and opened the home stand with a 94-83 victory. With Laurie Milligan on the bench with a subluxated patella, Kellie Jolly got her first career start and dished out five assists while scoring 11 points. At only 3-3 in the SEC race, every conference game was crucial. Next up was Mississippi. UT ran out to an early lead, and the fans settled back expecting a blowout. But the Lady Rebels whittled the lead down to 41-30 by the half. The second half was a different story as the LVs came out ice cold and Ole Miss worked their way back into a tie with 13:54 to go. From there, UT was never headed but it was a fight to the finish the rest of the way. Tennessee came away victorious, but not until Abby Conklin swished a long 2-point jumper from the right side with less than a second left on the clock, nailing down the 74-72 win. Kellie Jolly contributed 7 assists and 14 points in her second start, and Tiffani Johnson led the team with 16 points and 13 rebounds. The nationally-ranked Wisconsin Badgers came a-calling next. They rocked the Ladies with a powerful punch and led at the half, 50-36. Things looked bleak. Tennessee fought back but could get no closer than eight for most of the second half. Finally, UT turned up the defensive pressure and held the Badgers scoreless for four minutes, eventually taking the lead with less than four minutes left in the game. From there, they were never headed and came away with a hard-fought 78-74 victory. Keisha Anderson led Wisconsin with 26 points, while Holdsclaw threw in 23 points and nabbed 10 caroms for the victors. Mississippi State was the next opponent. They came to town, made 36 turnovers, and scored 39 points. Tennessee tallied 104. The Ladies shot 60% and hit 10-15 three-pointers. Jolly was 5-7 from three-land, Conklin netted 19 points, and Holdsclaw contributed 8 assists. South Carolina wasn't much better than the Bulldogs in the next game, falling 90-59. The game featured Conklin's 20 points and Holdsclaw's 18 points and 10 rebounds, as the SEC cellar-dwelling teams helped UT nudge its record up to 19-7. The 20-win season that looked so distant a month before was right around the corner.

A trip to Auburn was next, and the LVs came out firing and took a quick 10-0 lead. Auburn fought back to tie it up, but UT pulled away again and led at the half, 39-31. Tennessee increased that lead early in the second half and never allowed the Lady Tigers to come closer than six points again. The team's 20th victory was ultimately secured, 76-63. Tiff Johnson was the Tennessee star, netting 23 points (6-8 FG, 11-14 FT) and nabbing a career-high 19 rebounds. UT turned right around and headed home for their second meeting of the season with in-state rival Vanderbilt just two days later. The game was scheduled for a 4 p.m. start on a Monday while classes were in session to accomodate ESPN. By the time the bulk of the late-arriving fans found their seats, the Commodores had jumped out to a 30-19 lead. UT turned up the defensive pressure at that point with the vocal support of the large "President's Day" crowd, and managed to stop Vandy and catch up to go into halftime tied at 30-30. Tennessee had to rely on its defense again in the second half as their shots were not falling (36.7% FG for the game). They harried the Commodores into making a season-high 29 turnovers, and the second half saw eleven ties or lead changes. The Ladies, behind senior Pashen Thompson's clutch free throw shooting on Senior Day, managed to pull out their eighth consecutive win, 64-59. Holdsclaw was the only hot shooter (7-11 FG, 8-9 FT) for UT as she scored 22. Thompson contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The regular season closed out with a road trip to Louisiana. First up was LSU. UT started strong and built a ten point lead, but the Lady Tigers got that down to 41-35 by halftime. LSU came out with determination and before long had the game tied and a see-saw affair ensued. Finally, with 6:34 to go, LSU took the lead and the LVs played catch up the rest of the way, but they never did overtake the Lady Tigers, losing 83-78. LSU's Elaine Powell scored 32 points and Holdsclaw netted 21 for UT. The loss relegated the Lady Vols to a fifth-place finish in the SEC (7-4), which meant that the team would be without a first round bye in the conference tournament for the first time ever. Before thinking about the tournament, though, the team had a season-ending rematch with Louisiana Tech in Ruston. Tennessee began the game by committing five turnovers in the first three minutes. Things never really improved from there, and UT had 24 turnovers for the game. The LVs fell behind by as much as 23 points en route to losing 98-80 to end the season at 21-9. Holdsclaw did it all herself for UT, scoring 33 and grabbing 11 boards. Jolly was the only other double-figure scorer with 12. Of the contest, a chagrined Summitt said, "This was an embarrassment to our program. The lack of competitiveness on this team is unacceptable. . . . I'll never be in this situation again. Mark my words. Never. I'll have more players. I'll make sure we have experienced players, and people that will compete."

For the first time, Tennessee would have to win four games in four days to win the conference tournament. Would they be up to the challenge? The first game was against hapless, last-place South Carolina. Trying to rest her starters for later games, Summitt employed her bench liberally, resulting in frosh LaShonda Stephens being the leading scorer with 13, followed by frosh Kyra Elzy's 11. They were the only two players in double-figures as UT strolled to a 75-48 victory. A rematch with LSU was the reward. The Lady Vols came out firing and hit 60% of their shots en route to a 55-38 halftime margin. It was a big margin and the Lady Tigers spent 19 minutes of the second half whittling away at it. Their aggressive drives to the hoop eventually sent Johnson, Conklin, and Holdsclaw to the bench with five fouls apiece. But not until Holdsclaw had hung around long enough hit a jumper to tie the game at 88 after LSU had finally edged its way into the lead. 88-88 was the score at the end of regulation. Holdsclaw then managed to hit three buckets in the LVs fourth overtime period of the season before she was compelled to find a seat for the duration. UT went up 99-92, then LSU scored 7 points in less than a minute to tie it at 99. A Kyra Elzy free throw made with 3.2 seconds left put Tennessee over the top, though, for a hard-fought 100-99 win. Holdsclaw had 24 points and 8 boards, while Johnson scored 18 on 7-10 shooting. Auburn would be UT's semifinal opponent. The game began with Tennessee moving out to a six-point lead, but Auburn fought back and took a five-point lead themselves. By halftime the teams had managed a stalemate, 29-29. UT gradually got the lead again and built it to 49-40 with 8:43 left, but they were relying too much on Holdsclaw. Auburn came back, shut down Holdsclaw totally for the last 6:40, and managed to eke out a 61-59 victory on a Laticia Morris driving layup with 1.9 seconds left. The Lady Vols were destined to enter the NCAA tournament with a 23-10 record, and no team with that many losses had ever won it all.

The 1996-97 tournament quest began in Knoxville, as usual. First up was Grambling State, billed as a run and gun team that might give the LVs some little trouble. Not so, the LVs decided that the best defense was offense and set out running themselves. They ran right out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back, winning the contest by a 91-54 score. All was not joy and flowers in the LV camp after the game, though, as Kellie Jolly went down with a severe ankle sprain 1:42 before the half. She was questionable for game 2 against Oregon, and with Laurie Milligan already out, the point guard position was virtually empty. Jolly would spend most of the next 48 hours in the locker room receiving constant treatment. When the whistle sounded for the start of the Oregon game, there she was in uniform and on the bench. Jolly didn't see action until the first half was nearly over, but she played fifteen minutes in the game, providing her teammates with an emotional lift and a steadying hand when she was in there. Most important for the Ladies success in this game, though, was the return of Abby Conklin's shooting touch in her last game in T-BA. UT led by as much as eleven in the first half, but by only 36-30 at the half. The Ducks kept battling in the second stanza but could never seem to get closer than six. Time and again, they'd get close and Conklin would knock them back. For the game, Conklin connected on 4-7 three-pointers on the way to 18 points in support of Holdsclaw's 24 points and 12 boards. The final score was 76-59, and Tennessee was headed for Iowa City and the Midwest Regional.

The Colorado Buffaloes lay in wait in Iowa City. The Buffs took the lead 19-12, but then their offense sputtered and UT's picked up. Tennessee went ahead by 31-24, then they sputtered and the Buffs came roaring back. At the half, it was 43-33 Colorado. Pashen Thompson and Misty Greene combined for 15 of the UT points, while Holdsclaw added 6. The second half was more of the same, but Conklin got untracked to score 9 of her 14 and Holdsclaw put in 14 of her 20 to help UT pull away in the end, beating the Buffs 75-67. There were some moments of real anxiety for Tennessee when Holdsclaw hit the floor like she was shot with about seven minutes left. It turned out to be nothing worse than a cramp, but she had lots of people scared for a few minutes. The victory over Colorado earned the Ladies the right to meet undefeated Connecticut once again, with the winner going to the Final Four in Cincinnati. The Huskies at this point were without frosh Shea Ralph, who had been so instrumental in their earlier win over UT, but they still had Kara Wolters, Carla Berube, and Nykesha Sales, among others. Tennessee began the game by attacking the basket, taking it right to Wolters. This led to several layups and putbacks and UT went out to a 21-11 lead on the way to a 45-33 halftime advantage on 64% shooting. The attack strategy also served to open up the perimeter and UT responded with 5-9 on 3-point attempts. Jolly hit two big ones, and LV fans will always remember Misty Greene's swisher from way behind the arc. UConn would not go down easy, though. They fought back to within one at 53-52 with 12:19 left. But then UT ran off seven straight themselves and withstood the assault the rest of the way to pull out a very gratifying 91-81 win over their nemesis of the recent past. Holdsclaw scored 21 and Jolly 19, while seniors Thompson and Conklin added 15 and 14 respectively. Holdsclaw and Johnson each had 11 rebounds. Sales scored 26 for the Huskies. Tennessee was on its way to Cincinnati for its third straight Final Four appearance and a date with destiny.

The first game at the Final Four pitted two teams that had beaten Tennessee handily in the regular season--Old Dominion and Stanford. Their contest was a classic struggle that went to overtime before ODU prevailed, 83-82. The Lady Monarchs then waited patiently for the winner of the Tennessee vs. Notre Dame contest. UT had beaten N.D. by 13 in November, but this was a new season. In this game, defense was the winner, and it was the Lady Vol defense that dominated. Holdsclaw scored 31 points, but it was her tenacious denial defense on Beth Morgan that was just as important. She had four steals, but was outdone by the frosh Elzy who had five and disrupted the N.D. offense all night with her long arms and quickness. Elzy finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds to go with her steals. Despite the tough "D," Notre Dame hung around on the strength of Katryna Gaither's superb inside play which netted 28 points (10-15 FG, 8-8 FT), but she didn't have enough help. The Irish got as close as 41-38 with 14 minutes left, but the Tennessee defense led to turnovers and points off turnovers and UT pulled away, eventually winning by an 80-66 score. Conklin contributed 11 points and 3-4 three-point shooting, while Jolly had 9 assists and Thompson had 9 rebounds. Before the Championship game, ODU's Nyree Roberts said, "I won't guarantee a victory. I can't say that. But I'm very confident Old Dominion will win this game." She was wrong, of course. Tennessee set the record for most losses by a championship team in this season--10. Pat Summitt said, "I think they realized that they all had to step up and be accountable for what had happened and what was going to happen." They never quit and found strength in one another. And in the end they were on top of the world.

Top


1996-97 ROSTER

NO. NAME                POS.  YR.  HT.   HOMETOWN (HIGH SCHOOL)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 3  Niya Butts           F    Fr   6-0   Americus, GA (Americus HS)
 4  Tiffani Johnson      C    Jr   6-4   Charlotte, NC (Garinger HS)
 5  Kyra Elzy            F    Fr   6-1   LaGrange, KY (Oldham Co.)
11  Laurie Milligan      G    Jr   5-8   Tigard, OR (Tigard HS)
13  Misty Greene        G/F   So   5-9   Decatur, TN (Meigs Co.)
14  Kellie Jolly         G    So   5-10  Sparta, TN (White Co.)
23  Chamique Holdsclaw  F/C   So   6-2   Astoria, NY (Christ the King)
31  Brynae Laxton        F    So   6-0   Oneida, TN (Oneida HS)
34  LaShonda Stephens    F    Fr   6-3   Canton, GA (Sequoyah HS)
44  Pashen Thompson      C    Sr   6-1   Philadelphia, MS (Philadelphia HS)
52  Abby Conklin        F/C   Sr   6-3   Charlestown, IN (Charlestown HS)

Assistant Coaches: Mickie DeMoss
                   Holly Warlick
                   Al Brown


THE NCAA TOURNAMENT

Sub-Regional: defeated Grambling State, 91-54
              defeated Oregon, 76-59
Midwest Regional: defeated Colorado, 75-67
	          defeated Connecticut, 91-81
Semifinals: Old Dominion 83, Stanford 82 OT
            Tennessee 80, Notre Dame 66
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CHAMPIONSHIP GAME STATISTICS

OLD DOMINION   FG-FGA  FT-FTA  REB  PF  PTS
-------------------------------------------
Andrade	        2-7     0-0     0    5    4
Machanguana	7-13    2-2    10    5   16
Roberts  	6-8     1-2     9    2   13
Himes	        0-1     0-0     0    0    0
Penicheiro	4-13    2-2     6    2   10
Eller	        2-4     0-0     3    0    5
Eblin	        3-11    2-4     1    0   11
Small	        0-0     0-0     3    1    0
Diaz	        0-5     0-0     0    1    0
Bradley	        0-0     0-0     0    0    0
Team			        2
-------------------------------------------
Totals	       24-62    7-10   34   16   59
===========================================

TENNESSEE      FG-FGA  FT-FTA  REB  PF  PTS
-------------------------------------------
Johnson         4-4     0-0     3    2    8
Holdsclaw      11-20    2-3     7    2   24
Thompson        4-4     0-3     6    2    8
Elzy	        1-3     0-1     3    2    2
Jolly	        1-5     2-2     0    2    5
Butts	        4-7     0-0     2    0    8
Milligan        0-0     0-0     0    0    0
Greene	        0-1     1-2     1    0    1
Laxton        	0-0     0-0     0    0    0
Stephens        0-0     0-0     0    1    0
Conklin         4-5     2-2     1    2   12
Team		                6
-------------------------------------------
Totals	       29-49    7-13   29   13   68
___________________________________________

SITE: Cincinnati, OH
ATTENDANCE: 16,714
HALFTIME: Tennessee 34, Old Dominion 22
THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS: Old Dominion 4-18 (Eller 1-2,
Eblin 3-10, Penicheiro 0-1, Diaz 0-2, Andrade 0-3);
Tennessee 3-5 (Conklin 2-2, Jolly 1-3)
OFFICIALS: Dee Kantner, Violet Palmer, Yvette McKinney

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1996-97 SEASON STATISTICS

RECORD: Overall (29-10); SEC (8-4)

PLAYER      G/GS   FG/FGA  FG% 3PT/3PTA 3PT%  FT/FTA  FT%  PTS  AVG
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Holdsclaw  33/32  273/559 .488  17/48   .354 104/156 .667  667  20.2
NCAA        6/6    59/108 .546   0/2    .000  18/27  .667  136  22.7

Conklin    32/20  139/332 .419  37/108  .343  53/62  .855  368  11.5
NCAA        6/5    26/44  .591  12/20   .600  13/17  .765   77  12.8

Johnson    32/14  123/233 .528   0/1    .000  89/121 .736  335  10.5
NCAA        6/1    20/36  .556   0/0    .000   4/11  .364   44   7.3

Milligan   21/21  56/156  .359  11/34   .324  59/68  .868  182   8.7
NCAA        1/0    0/0    .000   0/0    .000   0/0   .000    0   0.0

Jolly      17/12  49/118  .415  15/43   .349  32/44  .727  145   8.5
NCAA        6/5   14/36   .389   5/13   .385  16/20  .800   49   8.2

Thompson   32/32  86/175  .491   0/1    .000  72/94  .766  244   7.6
NCAA        6/6   20/28   .714   0/0    .000  22/30  .733   62  10.3

Greene     27/11  50/139  .360  30/84   .357  21/25  .840  151   5.6
NCAA        6/1   15/30   .500   5/14   .357   5/6   .833   40   6.7

Elzy       33/11  63/170  .371   2/9    .222  56/101 .555  184   5.6
NCAA        6/6   14/42   .333   1/1   1.000  14/22  .636   43   7.2

Laxton     33/10  39/113  .345   0/4    .000  27/53  .509  105   3.2
NCAA        6/0    3/9    .333   0/0    .000   3/4   .750    9   1.5

Stephens   33/0   29/74   .392   0/0    .000  31/44  .705   89   2.7
NCAA        5/0    1/5    .200   0/0    .000   1/2   .500    3   0.6

Butts      27/3   21/55   .382   0/6    .000  21/32  .656   63   2.3
NCAA        5/0    7/14   .500   0/0    .000   4/5   .800   18   3.6
---------------------------------------------------------------------
TENNESSEE  33/33 928/2124 .437 112/338  .331 565/800 .706 2533  76.8
NCAA        6/6  179/352  .509  23/50   .460 100/144 .694  481  80.2

OPPONENTS  33/33 846/2062 .410 131/454  .289 414/596 .690 2234  67.7
NCAA        6/6  155/369  .420  26/92   .283  50/76  .658  386  64.3
_____________________________________________________________________

PLAYER      REB  AVG  PF/D  AST  TO   BK  ST  MIN
--------------------------------------------------
Holdsclaw   315  9.6  86/3   97 115   30  79 1083
NCAA         52  8.7  15/0   17  24    5  14  213

Conklin     155  4.8  77/2   29  44   27  29  785
NCAA         27  4.5  13/0    3   8    3   3  134

Johnson     249  7.8  70/2   20  73   21  16  815
NCAA         33  5.5  17/1    3  12    4   5  148

Milligan     50  2.4  56/3   89  67    5  33  655
NCAA          0  0.0   0/0    0   0    0   0    1

Jolly        34  2.0  29/0   64  43    1  22  505
NCAA         10  1.7   7/0   30  20    0   9  170

Thompson    204  6.4  79/5   17  65    5  20  783
NCAA         43  7.2  14/0    5  11    3  11  184

Greene       36  1.3  20/1   23  17    0   8  386
NCAA         10  1.7   4/0    4   8    0   5  110

Elzy        110  3.3  56/1   59  87   17  41  704
NCAA         26  4.3  10/0   11  13    1  14  152

Laxton       75  2.3  34/0   20  30    2  15  475
NCAA          7  1.2   3/0    1   7    0   2   41

Stephens     51  1.6  32/0    6  27    9  11  295
NCAA          4  0.8   4/0    0   2    0   1   21

Butts        37  1.4  34/0   17  27    1  13  213
NCAA          6  1.2   4/0    2   6    0   1   27
--------------------------------------------------
TENNESSEE  1451 44.0 573/17 450 595  118 287  ---
NCAA        232 38.7  91/1   76 111   16  65  ---

OPPONENTS  1221 37.0 663/23 395 630  109 287  ---
NCAA        194 32.3 114/6   80 124   11  63  ---

PER-GAME AVERAGES

 (does not include NCAA Tournament)
                                                      A/TO
PLAYER      FG   FGA   3G   3GA    FT   FTA  AST  TO  RATIO  BK   ST   MIN
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Holdsclaw  8.3  16.9  0.5   1.5   3.2   4.7  2.9  3.5  0.8  0.9  2.4  32.8
Conklin    4.3  10.4  1.2   3.4   1.7   1.9  0.9  1.4  0.7  0.8  0.9  24.5
Johnson    3.8   7.3  0.0   0.0   2.8   3.8  0.6  2.3  0.3  0.7  0.5  25.5
Milligan   2.7   7.4  0.5   1.6   2.8   3.2  4.7  3.2  1.3  0.2  1.6  31.2
Jolly      2.9   6.9  0.9   2.5   1.9   2.6  3.8  2.5  1.5  0.1  1.3  29.7
Thompson   2.7   5.5  0.0   0.0   2.3   2.9  0.5  2.0  0.3  0.2  0.6  24.5
Greene     1.9   5.2  1.1   3.1   0.8   0.9  0.9  0.6  1.4  0.0  0.3  14.3
Elzy       1.9   5.2  0.1   0.3   1.7   3.1  1.8  2.6  0.7  0.5  1.2  21.3
Laxton     1.2   3.4  0.0   0.1   0.8   1.6  0.6  0.9  0.7  0.1  0.5  14.4
Stephens   0.9   2.2  0.0   0.0   0.9   1.3  0.2  0.8  0.2  0.3  0.3   8.9
Butts      0.8   2.0  0.0   0.2   0.8   1.2  0.6  1.0  0.6  0.0  0.5   7.9
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
TENNESSEE 28.1  64.4  3.4  10.2  17.1  24.2 13.6 18.0  .76  3.6  8.7  ----
OPPONENTS 25.6  62.5  4.0  13.8  12.5  18.1 12.0 19.1  .63  3.3  8.7  ----

SCORE BY PERIODS

 (all games)
              1ST   2ND  OT  TOTAL
TENNESSEE    1413  1556  54   3023
OPPONENTS    1198  1384  38   2620

ATTENDANCE

 (39 games)
       TOTAL    AVE
HOME   167,992  9,878
AWAY   161,556  7,343
TOTAL  329,548  8,450

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1996-97 SCHEDULE

Date Opponent Site Result Score Record
Fri Nov 15 NIT Game 1
Austin Peay
Knoxville, TN W 80-59 1-0
Sun Nov 17 NIT Game 2
Kansas
Knoxville, TN W 79-60 2-0
Tue Nov 19 NIT Quarter Finals (Prime Network)
Notre Dame
Ruston, LA W 72-59 3-0
Wed Nov 20 NIT Finals (Prime Network)
Louisiana Tech
Ruston, LA L 64-66 3-1
Sat Nov 23 Vermont Tournament
Marquette
Burlington, VT W 83-68 4-1
Sun Nov 24 Vermont Tournament
Vermont
Burlington, VT W 87-58 5-1
Tue Nov 26 Wisconsin-Green Bay Knoxville, TN W 71-36 6-1
Tue Dec 3 Memphis (SportSouth) Knoxville, TN W 79-63 7-1
Sun Dec 8 Georgia (SportSouth) Knoxville, TN L 93-94 ot 7-2
Sun Dec 15 Stanford (Prime Network) Knoxville, TN L 65-82 7-3
Wed Dec 18 Texas Tech (Prime Network) Lubbock, TX W 8-3
Sat Dec 21 Texas (FX) Austin, TX W 68-65ot 9-3
Sun Dec 29 Arkansas Fayetteville, AR L 75-77 9-4
Thu Jan 2 St. Joseph's Philadelphia, PA W 64-52 10-4
Sun Jan 5 Connecticut (CBS) Storrs, CT L 72-57 10-5
Tue Jan 7 Old Dominion (HTS) Norfolk, VA L 72-83 10-6
Sun Jan 12 Kentucky Knoxville, TN W 84-61 11-6
Fri Jan 17 Purdue (SportSouth) Knoxville, TN W 72-60 12-6
Sun Jan 19 Vanderbilt Nashville, TN W 92-79 ot 13-6
Tue Jan 21 Florida Gainesville, FL L 71-62 13-7
Sun Jan 26 Alabama (Prime Network) Tuscaloosa, AL W 63-60 14-7
Tue Jan 28 DePaul (SportSouth) Knoxville, TN W 94-83 15-7
Sun Feb 2 Mississippi (SportSouth) Knoxville, TN W 74-72 16-7
Tue Feb 4 Wisconsin Knoxville, TN W 78-74 17-7
Sun Feb 9 Mississippi State Knoxville, TN W 104-39 18-7
Tue Feb 11 South Carolina (SportSouth) Knoxville, TN W 90-59 19-7
Sat Feb 15 Auburn Auburn, AL W 76-63 20-7
Mon Feb 17 Vanderbilt (ESPN) Knoxville, TN W 64-59 21-7
Sat Feb 22 LSU Baton Rouge, LA L 78-83 21-8
Mon Feb 24 Louisiana Tech Ruston, LA L 80-98 21-9
Fri Feb 28 SEC Tournament
South Carolina
Chattanooga, TN W 75-48 22-9
Sat Mar 1 SEC Tournament
LSU
Chattanooga, TN W 100-99 ot 23-9
Sun Mar 2 SEC Tournament Semifinal (SportSouth)
Auburn
Chattanooga, TN L 59-61 23-10
Sat Mar 15 NCAA 1st Round
Grambling State
Knoxville, TN W 91-54 24-10
Mon Mar 17 NCAA 2nd Round
Oregon
Knoxville, TN W 76-59 25-10
Sat Mar 22 NCAA Regionals
Colorado
Iowa City, Iowa W 75-67 26-10
Mon Mar 24 NCAA Regionals
Connecticut
Iowa City, Iowa W 91-81 27-10
Fri Mar 28 NCAA Final Four
Notre Dame
Cincinnati, OH W 80-66 28-10
Sun Mar 30 NCAA Championship
Old Dominion
Cincinnati, OH W 68-59 29-10

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---- PC 4/23/01