1997-98 Tennessee Lady Vols

97-98 team
STANDING:    Kyra Elzy,    Teresa Geter,    LaShonda Stephens,    Tamika Catchings,
   Chamique Holdsclaw,    Kellie Jolly
SEATED:    Brynae Laxton,    Kristen "Ace" Clement,    Niya Butts,    Laurie Milligan,
   Misty Greene,    Semeka Randall

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The Lady Vols' 1997-98 season was as different from the previous season as orange is from white. Tennessee ran-off a perfect 39-0 season to become the sixth champion to go undefeated, winning more games than any team in history. Along the way, they beat 12 teams ranked in the final coaches top 25, beat 16 tournament teams, and won by an average margin of 30.1 points. It was a team that became nationally-renowned for its hard-nosed pressure defense and lightning transition attack, for its three "Meeks," its "Ace," its "Tree," and its Jolly. In the championship game in Kansas City, the Lady Vols met their storied rival, Louisiana Tech, and ran away with a 93-75 victory and their third consecutive national championship. The game began as a trading-baskets affair, but Tennessee soon went on an 11-point spurt and opened the margin out to 19-6. They never looked back and went into the locker room at halftime leading 55-32. The Lady Vols shot 61.5% for the half, while LaTech was shooting at a 38.2% clip. Tech's Tamicha Jackson tried to bring her team back by throwing up long bombs, but she missed most of them and Tennessee was off and running on the rebounds. Tech's LaQuan Stallworth said, "We missed our outside shot, got down on ourselves and pouted, and we didn't get back on transition defense." With this UT team, that was a fatal flaw. Tech got down by as many as 27 in the second half before rallying. They actually outscored Tennessee in the half, 43-38, but it was far too little, far too late. For the game, junior Chamique Holdsclaw scored 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Frosh Tamika Catchings led all scorers with 27 and had 7 boards. The third "Meek," Semeka Randall contributed 10 points and 8 rebounds. Junior Kellie Jolly did her usual outstanding job of leading the team, but she only had 3 assists while throwing in an uncharacteristic 20 points, including 4-5 three-pointers. LaTech was led by Jackson's 26 points, while Alisa Burras had 19 and 10 caroms. Holdsclaw was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, again, and Catchings and Jolly joined her on the All-Tournament team. "It's the greatest women's basketball team that I've personally ever seen," opined veteran Tech coach Leon Barmore.

The season began, oddly enough, with an SEC conference game against Ole Miss. Lady Vol fans were anxious to get their first real look at the heralded frosh class: Semeka Randall, Tamika Catchings, Kristen "Ace" Clement, and Teresa "Tree" Geter. Clement had a foot injury and did not play, but the others lived up to advanced billing. Randall entered after four minutes and sparked the team with her enthusiasm, speed, and a couple of steals. She ignited a 15-0 run and the Lady Rebs were never close again as UT won, 92-54. Randall led all scorers with 24 points, Holdsclaw added 23, and Catchings had 13. Junior forward Brynae Laxton got her one and only start of the season and pulled in eight rebounds. Next on the schedule was a familiar foe, Louisiana Tech. The Techsters came in with all five starters returning from the team that had beaten UT twice the year before. Before the game the 1997 championship banner was raised. Behind Alisa Burras the Techsters built an early 9-2 lead, while UT was struggling a bit, particularly sophomore LaShonda Stephens, who missed all seven of her shots. The LVs managed to go into the half only trailing 36-35. With about 12 minutes left in the game and Tech leading 50-45, coach Summitt inserted a lineup of her four frosh and sophomore Kyra Elzy. The fivesome exploded on the Lady Techsters for a 12-0 run, taking the lead and, eventually, the ballgame, 75-61. Instrumental was the most unheralded of the frosh, Teresa Geter, who finished with 11 points, 5 blocks, and 3 steals. Holdsclaw finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Catchings, in her first start, had 17 points and 9 boards. Clement played a part in the big run but would not see action again for five games due to a stress fracture in her foot. A quick trip to Tennessee-Martin followed, as the Skyhawks named their court for their most famous alumna, Pat Summitt. The game was a mismatch, of course, as the LVs won 73-32. Back home for a contest with Vermont, their fourth in seven days, the Lady Vols rolled to a 92-52 victory after only leading by ten at the half. Holdsclaw poured in 27 points and Catchings contributed six steals. The first of two western road trips was next.

The annual meeting with Stanford was first, followed by a game with Portland the next night. For once, the game wasn't at Maples Pavilion, instead, it was booked into the San Jose Arena. The first half was a back-and-forth struggle with neither team gaining the upper hand. Stanford led when it was half over, 45-44. Defense was the UT watchword in the second half as they smothered the Cardinal with their intensity and pressure. Stanford managed but five field goals the whole half, and the LVs headed north with an 88-70 win under their belts. Summitt dubbed Kyra Elzy and Semeka Randall "trouble" and "double trouble" for their defensive efforts against the Cardinal. Holdsclaw had 25 points. Catchings won her battle with Olympia Scott, outscoring her 20-18. Randall scored 17 and led the team with 11 rebounds. As a team, UT won the board battle, 53-34. Portland was scheduled as a homecoming for senior Laurie Milligan from nearby Tigard, Oregon. Despite being hobbled by bad knees and plans to sit out her senior season, Milligan played nine minutes, recording 2 points and 1 assist. UT waltzed to a 74-51 victory behind junior Misty Greene's 16 points on four long-range 3-pointers. The quick trip west was followed by a quick stop back home.

Texas came into Knoxville to open the Lady Vols December schedule. The Ladies turned on their aggressive brand of defense and broke out to a 47-32 halftime lead. More of the same wore out the Longhorns in the second half, resulting in a 98-64 UT win. For the game the team used an even dozen steals by the "Meeks" to propel their transition offense. Catchings netted 26 points, while Randall and Holdsclaw added 18 and 17, respectively. The stay at home was short-lived and the team headed for New York for a Holdsclaw homecoming at The Big Apple Classic hosted by Manhattan University and for a night out on Broadway. George Mason was the first opponent and Tennessee rolled, 98-68. The hometown girl, Holdsclaw, had 24 points and 13 rebounds. Semeka Randall got her first career start and recorded 17 points, while "Ace" Clement saw her first action since the LaTech game and contributed 7 points. Manhattan was the next day's mismatched opponent, and they committed 34 turnovers under the UT pressure, falling 78-28. The team headed back to Knoxville to prepare for the upcoming SEC/Big 10 Challenge. Purdue upset Florida in the opening game, 71-61, making it imperative for the LVs to uphold the conference's honor in their game with Illinois and Catchings' big sister Tauja. Things did not look good in the first half as Tennessee shot 23% and the Illini built a 41-19 lead that the Ladies managed to trim to 41-24 by halftime. "When the offense isn't perking, defense should be the constant you can depend on" is a favorite Summitt maxim. UT turned up the defensive pressure, making steals and forcing turnovers, until finally, with 9:25 left, they took the lead, 54-52. From there, with a sigh of relief, the Lady Vols pulled away and eventually recorded a 78-68 victory. Catchings ended up with 20 points and 13 boards, while Holdsclaw had 19 points. It was time for exams, and the Ladies had a 10-0 record. When exams were over, the team would pack-up and head west again. This time their destination was Anchorage, Alaska.

The Northern Lights Invitational involved three games in three days packed around lots of sightseeing. Coach Summitt was already preparing her team for the tournament rigors to come. The Akron zips were up first, and Summitt used her bench liberally in the 98-63 win. UT pilfered the ball 21 times and shot 60.3% as Catchings led the way with 21 points. Career scoring highs were recorded by Stephens and Clement, who netted 13 and 12, respectively. Texas A&M was the semifinal opponent. Tennessee came out hot and hit 61% of their first half attempts. The shooting cooled some but the team went ahead by as much as 25 before A&M chipped it down to 11. Summitt found Holdsclaw sitting on her bench at that point and sent her back into the fray. 'Mique responded with 7 quick points, and UT cruised to a 105-81 win from there. The 81 points proved to be the most any team would score against the LVs all season. Holdsclaw finished with 29 points. The championship game featured Tennessee vs. Wisconsin. The Badgers were ranked in the top 10 at the time. Wisconsin led early, but UT soon overtook them and pulled away. The Badgers managed to cut the lead to 11 in the second half, but then Jolly hit three consecutive three-pointers to put the game out of reach. Wisconsin fought back again, but UT prevailed 87-66. Tennessee shot better than 50% for all three games. They were now poised to enter the new year with a sterling 13-0 record and a #1 ranking.

1998 began with a rare New Year's Day game as Arkansas came to town. The hot shooting continued. Catchings netted 19 of her 24 and Holdsclaw 13 of her game high 28 in the first half as the LVs broke out to a 46-31 lead. The Lady 'Backs, ranked 25th, never could get into the game as Randall and Elzy tormented the normally productive Christy Smith into numerous turnovers. Arkansas finished with 26 turnovers, 14 of which were Tennessee steals. The 88-58 UT win was sweet payback for the previous season's upset in Fayetteville. Two days later, the new rival on the block came to town--the 3rd-ranked Connecticut Huskies. 24,597 boisterous fans packed Thompson-Boling Arena for the game, setting a women's collegiate basketball attendance record. The game was experimentally played in four quarters, rather than the usual two halves. About all that accomplished was to make the game last longer. UT didn't mind; UConn probably would have preferred an earlier end. The Ladies jumped on the Huskies from the get-go, running up a 10-0 lead before UConn could score. The first quarter ended at 23-17, though, as the Huskies showed some fight, but by halftime Tennessee had built the lead to 42-28. UT had led by as much as 17. Connecticut came out inspired for the third quarter, making a 20-7 run to crawl within one point at 49-48. But then Jolly hit her only bucket of the game, a three, the first points of a 7-0 quarter closing run the LVs answered with. The final quarter was all Tennessee's, and they closed out the Huskies with free throws for an 84-69 victory. UConn's frosh Svetlana Abrosimova led them in scoring with 14. For Tennessee, Holdsclaw scored 25, Randall 23, and Catchings 17. Randall added 10 rebounds. Next up was a quick trip to South Carolina. The Ladies started slowly, but then turned up the defensive pressure and went in at the half leading 53-26. The game was a homecoming for Teresa Geter who showed off for the home folks with 9 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks. The final tally was 94-52 in Tennessee's favor. One game remained before the start of spring classes; Carol Ross brought her 12th-ranked Lady Gators to T-BA. The Lady Vols exploded on Florida and then ran them into the ground, building a 57-18 halftime lead. Tennessee coasted from there to win 99-60. The LVs had a little trouble at the end as Stephens, Elzy, Randall, and Geter all fouled out and Catchings was in the locker room unavailable with a cut over her eye. The fans called for sending assistant coach Holly Warlick into the game, but Summitt was forced to re-insert Holdsclaw, who had thought her night was over. Holdsclaw finished with 37 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. Randall had a perfect night, scoring 14 on 6-6 FG shooting and 2-2 FTs. Geter contributed 7 rebounds and 3 steals. The Ladies were destined to miss the first day of classes. They had a previous appointment with some Lady Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia.

The game in Georgia was the first of three on the road. Tennessee got an early lead and then ran off 13 straight points to end the half and go into the locker room up 51-31. The Lady Bulldogs, behind the frosh Miller twins, Kelly and Coco, got back into the game in the second half, reducing the lead to 9. But in the last seven minutes of the game, Randall rallied her team, scoring 13 of her 18 points, and the LVs ended up with a 96-71 victory, the largest winning margin in the series ever. Tennessee shot well again (54%) and had 19 steals, while Elzy had a career high 15 points in support of Holdsclaw's 25 and Catchings' 23. The next game, at Kentucky, was eerily similar as the Ladies held a modest lead until they exploded for a big first half run. They took their 19-point halftime lead and cruised with it until they reached the final buzzer with a 93-65 win in hand. From Lexington, the squad headed to Chicago for a meeting with DePaul, but first they made a memorable visit to Michael Jordan's office to meet the superstar. Back at the gym, the team caught the Blue Demons without their two best players and the result was a veritable massacre. It took DePaul four minutes to even get a shot off and Tennessee rolled over them, 125-46. The score was 21-0 at one point. Catchings, in the town where she played some high school ball, had 35 points. Randall and Geter each scored 18 points, Jolly netted 14, and Clement and Elzy added 11 apiece. Holdsclaw got a rest and scored only 8. Jolly recorded 8 assists. It was the midpoint of the season, and the Ladies headed back home to get ready for a big game with in-state rival Vanderbilt possessing a sparkling 20-0 record. Vandy was ranked in the top 10 and played Tennessee close. The score see-sawed throughout the first half until UT got the edge with about 7 minutes left. The LVs held on and went into the half ahead 37-31. The second half began with what was to become a familiar sight, the Lady Vols came out with superb intensity and put the pressure and the clamps on the Commodores. What resulted was a 20-0 UT run to start the half. Tennessee went on to expand that lead to as much as 35 before settling for an 86-54 victory. Familiar stats were posted--57% shooting and 13 steals. Holdsclaw netted 24, Catchings 22, and Randall 22. Kyra Elzy was playing the best ball of her career and hit the boards hard to lead the team with 8 rebounds. A rematch with Georgia in Knoxville was the final game of January. It was no contest. Tennessee ran out to a 22-4 lead and never looked back, finishing with a resounding 102-43 whupping of the Lady Bulldogs. Holdsclaw's 22 points in the first half was more than the entire UGA team scored. Again, familiar stats: 61% shooting, 22 steals, Holdsclaw 28 points and 11 rebounds. "Ace" Clement had a career night with 12 points and seven assists. January came to an end with the Ladies sitting on a 22-0 record, 8-0 in the conference.

February's first contest is one Lady Vol fans will long remember. The Alabama Crimson Tide came to town. It was the end of starting guard Kyra Elzy's season as she landed awkwardly after a rebound midway through the first half and tore her ACL. Elzy had been playing great and giving the opponents fits with her defense. She would be missed. The rest of the team seemed to be in shock for the rest of the half, and Bama's tactic of slowing the tempo was having an effect. Tennessee did manage a 39-26 halftime lead but could never shake the Tide, who got as close as five in the final two minutes. UT prevailed, though, 73-66. Holdsclaw threw in 30 points, but she was matched by Dominique Canty of the Tide. The Ladies shot an uncharacteristic 41.8% and lost the board battle 39-36. Still, it was win #23 and a trip to Oxford, Mississippi was on the schedule. At Ole Miss, Tennessee jumped out to advantages of 10-0 and 35-9 before taking a 54-17 lead into the locker room. With the large margin in hand, coach Summitt gave her bench a workout and Brynae Laxton, Misty Greene, and Ace Clement saw significant playing time. Randall led all scorers with 19 and the team recorded 13 steals in a 91-45 decision. It was back to Knoxville then to greet last season's championship game foe, Old Dominion before 20,495 fans. The game was close for about fifteen minutes, but then Tennessee built a 37-25 edge by the half. The second half was the Chamique Holdsclaw show as she scored 24 of her game-high 33. The lead mounted as high as 18 and ODU knocked it back down to nine, but Holdsclaw took over on offense while Randall was hounding Ticha Penicheiro on defense. The final result was an 85-61 win for UT, which was ODU's largest losing margin in four years. Holdsclaw added 12 rebounds, while Catchings grabbed 11 rebounds, Randall had 6 steals, and Jolly dished 8 assists. There was no time to rest on their laurels, though, because the schedule had them in Starkville, Mississippi two nights later. After the big game with ODU, the Ladies came out a little flat against Mississippi State. It took them most of the first half to get untracked, but they led 33-24 at the half. The opening of the second half was a familiar scenario as the team put on a 19-2 run to lead 52-26 with less than ten minutes to play. It was a combination of defense and transition offense, as usual, that rocked the Lady Bulldogs, but they didn't quit and came back to within eleven before Holdsclaw came off the bench to score eight straight to seal the victory, 74-52. Holdsclaw had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and the team recorded 15 steals. The squad had two days off, then three games in five days.

The first game was at Memphis. Tennessee built a 16-6 lead, but the Lady Tigers turned it right around and were on top 38-31 with less than two minutes remaining in the half. UT rallied in return and re-took the lead at the half, 42-40, behind 19 Holdsclaw points. Memphis hung with the LVs for eight minutes when play resumed, but then UT turned up the defensive pressure and pulled away for a 91-65 win. Holdsclaw scored 31, Randall 21, and Catchings 20. Game two of the trio was back in Knoxville. Auburn was the opponent. The game looked like another LV runaway when they went up 32-16, but then the Lady Tigers came storming back to make it only a 38-33 UT halftime lead. Auburn could never close the gap any more than that, and Tennessee expanded the margin to 18 before settling for a 79-63 win. The team shot 53.4% and pilfered the ball 20 times. Holdsclaw had a career night, scoring 39. The third game was back halfway across the state in Nashville on President's Day for a national TV audience. Vanderbilt was hoping Memorial Gym would be more kind to them than T-BA had been in January. It was a vain hope. UT fell behind 16-7, then ran off 17 straight points to go up 24-16. The teams played even the rest of the half and went into halftime with Tennessee ahead, 32-23. The Ladies came out of the locker room pressing and running and as happened so many times that season, blew the opponent out of the water before they knew what had hit them. The final score was 91-60, UT. The stats looked familiar: 52.3% shooting, 15 steals, Holdsclaw 28 points, Catchings 26, Randall 19. The squad traveled home and caught their breaths after winning 5 games in 10 days. At some point in this stretch, Catchings broke her nose in practice. Tough woman that she is, though, she never missed a beat, never missed a minute of game time. The last regular season game was against Louisiana State in T-BA. Summitt surprised everyone by starting the lone senior on Senior Day, Laurie Milligan. Milligan had only played once previously all season due to bad knees, but she was cleared for spot duty the rest of the way. Milligan put on a show for the fans, looking very good considering her layoff as she led the LVS vaunted running game. She was instrumental as UT jumped out to a 32-8 lead and never looked back. 22,694 fans showed up to see the Ladies post their first ever undefeated regular season, 30-0 (14-0 SEC), with a 90-58 decision. Knoxville was ga-ga over the Lady Vols and Pat Summitt became the first women's coach to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Next up was the SEC tournament, and unlike the previous year Tennessee had its usual first round bye.

Mississippi State provided the Friday SEC tourney opposition in Columbus, Georgia. UT was on the other end of the stick this time as the Lady Bulldogs built quick 7-0 and 9-2 leads. Then it was the Lady Vols turn to spurt, and they outscored MSU 15-2 over the next three and a half minutes to go up 17-11. It was pretty much all Tennessee after that--49-32 at the half and 88-60 at the final buzzer. Catchings had 18 points and 10 rebounds at the half, finishing with 22 and 14. Holdsclaw scored 22 and Randall 18. The bench got lots of playing time. Geter contributed 8 points, 8 boards, and 2 blocks, while Clement added 8 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals. The victory set up UT's third meeting of the season with Vanderbilt. It was no contest. Catchings again had a double-double before halftime, 20 points and 10 boards. Tennessee shot 50.7% (6-7 three-pointers) to Vandy's 29.7% and owned the boards, 57-31. Holdsclaw led the scoring with 25 and nabbed 10 rebounds. She had 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks also. The bench saw a lot of PT again, and Clement was outstanding with 12 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals. After the game, Commodore coach Jim Foster said, "I think they're redefining the game of women's basketball." In the tournament final, Alabama was the foe. The LVs closest game of the season had been their mere 7-point win over the Tide on February 1. Bama decided to employ the same slow-down strategy that proved effective in the team's first meeting. The half-court game and 2-3 zone defense they employed worked again. Tennessee went up 18-11, then 29-19, but Bama scored the last seven points of the first half to make UT's lead only 29-26 at the break. Geter had 4 blocks for the LVs in the half. In the first ten minutes of the second stanza, Tennessee gradually pulled away, to lead 49-39, and increased that over the next four minutes to 57-43, but the Tide wasn't going away. They nibbled away at that lead and with 41.9 seconds left, it was down to 63-58. Bama scored 5 in the remaining seconds, but Catchings hit two free throws and Randall made a putback, to ensure the 67-63 Lady Vol victory--Tennessee's eighth SEC Tournament title. Catchings had 5 steals to go with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Holdsclaw scored 22 and grabbed 7 boards, while Randall netted 11 along with 8 boards. Dominique Canty led all scorers with 25. The Tide strategy gave coach Summitt and her staff something to chew on as they went back to Knoxville to prepare for the Big Dance. But first, the team had to appear at the world premiere of the HBO documentary made the previous year, "Cinderella Season: The Lady Vols Fight Back." It was a full-scale, Hollywood premiere-type event, and the players and coaches had a grand time before getting down to the serious business of the NCAA Tournament.

As usual, Tennessee's first two NCAA Tournament games were at home. The selection committee, in a fit of sick humor apparently, decided to reward the 28-0 Liberty Lady Flames with a #16 seed and a first round meeting with the 33-0 Lady Vols. Still, even though the expected blowout ensued, 102-58, the Tennessee faithful were treated to a sterling performance by the Lady Flames' twin guard duo, 5-6 sophomores Sarah and Sharon Wilkerson. Sharon hit 6-12 three-pointers on the way to 26 points. While Sarah had a tougher shooting night, scoring 10, she did handle the UT press quite well before she wore down in the second half and added 4 assists and 3 steals to her stat sheet. Holdsclaw shut down Liberty's go-to player, Elena Kisseleva, who managed only 10 points, 10 under her average. Holdsclaw and Catchings each had 13 rebounds, while scoring 22 and 17 respectively. Clement had 5 assists and 3 steals, Randall 15 points and 3 steals, Jolly 4 steals, and Catchings 5 blocks. Next in line was the Lady Toppers of Western Kentucky. WKU brought an experienced 26-8 team into the fray. They were led by seniors Leslie Johnson and Danielle McCully. UT got off to a slow start, and Randall picked up two early fouls. This brought in "Ace" Clement who in short order knocked down a three followed by a driving jumper to put the LVs up 22-15. From there the team gradually pulled away to lead at the half, 37-25. They couldn't quite put away the Lady Toppers, though. Western pulled to within 43-37 but then missed their next six shots. Later WKU crawled to within 52-46, which was followed by a spate of turnovers and misses while Holdsclaw was scoring on a baseline jumper, a layup after a Jolly steal, and a layup off a Catchings feed. Western never got that close again, and Tennessee went on to an 82-62 victory. Instrumental in the game's outcome was the defensive play of gimpy-kneed LaShonda Stephens, who effectively denied Leslie Johnson the ball during her 30 minutes of hard-nosed and pain-filled play. Holdsclaw scored 34 points and added 11 boards, 3 blocks, and 4 steals. Catchings tried her best to emulate the junior star, scoring 20, rebounding 14, stealing 5, and assisting 6 times. Jolly had 7 assists and 2 steals. The victory earned the Lady Vols a trip up the road to Nashville for the Mideast Regional.

The 22-9 Rutgers Scarlet Knights were waiting for Tennessee. The game was close early as Tomora Young was hot for the Knights, and Rutgers only trailed 27-25 late in the half. But UT closed out the half with an 11-5 run, and it was 38-30 at the break. The opening of the second half was familiar to LV fans as the team went on a 10-2 run to open up a 16-point lead. Rutgers never recovered, committing 27 turnovers under the Tennessee pressure, and losing, 92-60. The final LV stats were familiar: 52.2% shooting; Holdsclaw 25 points, 10 rebounds; Catchings 23 points; Randall 17 points, 13 boards, and 4 steals; Geter 5 blocks. One road block stood between the Lady Vols and the Final Four--the 27-6 North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC was led by senior Tracy Reid, junior Chanel Wright, and frosh Nikki Teasley. The first half was a see-saw affair until UT jumped ahead 17-11, but UNC came right back and it was tied at 21-21 with 7 minutes left. Tennessee then spurted ahead, outscoring the Heels 12-6 to close out the half leading 33-27. The second half began with a familiar scenario, a 7-0 spurt, but it was Carolina doing the spurting, and they took the lead 34-33. UT stayed with the Heels for a while but gradually began to miss and fall behind (Holdsclaw went on a 1-13 shooting freeze-up). With 7:19 left, the LVs were trailing 61-49. Things looked bleak, and a reversal of the way the game had been going was called for--immediately. Summitt sent Holdsclaw, Jolly, Randall, Geter, and Clement on to the floor, and the Ladies hitched up their shorts and cranked up their pressure "D" on the Heels. A minute later, Catchings replaced Jolly with the score 61-56. At the 5:01 mark, Catchings deflected a Teasley pass attempt to Clement who instantly dished to Holdsclaw for a layup and the game was tied 62-62. Before UNC could get out of the backcourt on the ensuing inbounds, Holdsclaw stole a pass and put the ball in the hole for a 64-62 lead. Then Wright scored for the Heels and Randall immediately answered for UT. A couple of possessions later, Wright tied it at 66 with two free throws. Holdsclaw fouled on the next trip down and Reid made one free throw for a UNC lead. 'Mique then hit two free tosses of her own to reclaim the lead. A couple plays later Geter put back a Holdsclaw miss to make it 70-67, UT, with 1:22 left. Tennessee free throws around a Wright three-pointer closed out the scoring, and the Lady Vols were headed back to the Final Four with a thrilling 76-70 victory. Holdsclaw ended with 29 points, despite her cold shooting. Geter had 11 points and 8 rebounds, and Randall contributed 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals. Wright scored 21, and Reid added 20 plus 13 rebounds for the Heels. The Lady Vols were 37-0 and imitating Wilbert Harrison, singing, "goin' to Kansas City -- Kansas City, here I come!"

Tennessee was joined in the 1998 Final Four by the surprising Arkansas (22-10) and North Carolina State (25-6) teams, and by their old nemesis, Louisiana Tech (30-3). UT opened against Arkansas, and the Lady 'Backs stayed close for a half. The LVs shot poorly (39.5%) in the half, Holdsclaw going 5-14. Still UT led 39-28 at the intermission. The second half was a different story. Tennessee shot 53.3% and eventually won the game by the largest victory margin in national semifinal game history, 86-58. As a result of the Tennessee pressure, Arkansas finished with 30.5% shooting and 28 turnovers, off of which Tennessee score 27 points. Holdsclaw scored 23 and Randall 22. Holdsclaw had 10 rebounds and Randall and Catchings 8 each. Jolly dished 5 assists, while Clement and Catchings each had 4. Randall made 3 steals, and Geter blocked 5 shots. The championship game against LaTech was all Tennessee's. When she entered the game for a brief stint, Laurie Milligan became the only player ever to play in 4 national championship games. The team was one of the most dominant ever as they brought home Tennessee's sixth title and third in a row, becoming only the third team to accomplish a three-peat. Coach Summitt declared, "I'm extremely proud of this team. The players and staff have combined for a tremendous chemistry." "This team played a tempo unlike any team I've ever coached," said Summitt. "They're the most exciting team I've ever seen." It was an amazing season, and as a result, the standard for excellence was raised and dozens of teams began scrambling to keep up. A new era in women's basketball had been launched.


1997-98 ROSTER

NO. NAME                  POS.  YR.  HT.   HOMETOWN (HIGH SCHOOL)
 3  Niya Butts             F    So   6-0   Americus, GA (Americus HS)
 5  Kyra Elzy              F    So   6-1   LaGrange, KY (Oldham Co.)
11  Laurie Milligan        G    Sr   5-8   Tigard, OR (Tigard HS)
13  Misty Greene          G/F   Jr   5-9   Decatur, TN (Meigs Co.)
14  Kellie Jolly           G    Jr   5-10  Sparta, TN (White Co.)
21  Semeka Randall         G    Fr   5-10  Cleveland, Ohio (Trinity HS)
23  Chamique Holdsclaw    F/C   Jr   6-2   Astoria, NY (Christ the King)
24  Tamika Catchings      G/F   Fr   6-1   Duncanville, TX (Duncanville HS)
31  Brynae Laxton          F    Jr   6-0   Oneida, TN (Oneida HS)
33  Kristen "Ace" Clement  G    Fr   5-11  Broomall, PA (Cardinal O'Hara HS)
34  LaShonda Stephens      F    So   6-3   Canton, GA (Sequoyah HS)
40  Teresa "Tree" Geter    C    Fr   6-3   Columbia, SC (Columbia HS)

Assistant Coaches: Mickie DeMoss
                   Holly Warlick
                   Al Brown


Sub-Regional:     defeated Liberty, 102-58
	          defeated Western Kentucky, 82-62
Mideast Regional: defeated Rutgers, 92-60
	          defeated North Carolina, 76-70
Semifinals: Tennessee 86, Arkansas 58
            Louisiana Tech 84, N.C. State 65


Maxwell	          7-12    0-0     8   3  15
Wilson	          2-6     0-0     5   4   4
Burras   	  9-16    1-5    10   3  19
Stallworth 	  0-6     2-2     1   0   2
Jackson          11-25    0-0     4   2  26
Cochran           0-0     0-0     0   0   0
Scheppmann	  1-5     0-0     0   2   3
Gilmore	          0-0     2-2     1   0   2
Bowman	          2-3     0-1     0   2   4
Team			          5
Totals	         32-73	  5-10   34  16  75

Catchings	  8-16   11-13   7   3   27
Holdsclaw        11-25    3-4   10   0   25
Stephens          0-2	  0-0    2   2    0
Randall 	  4-9     2-4    8   2   10
Jolly	          7-10	  2-2    4   2   20
Butts   	  1-1     0-0    1   0    2
Milligan	  0-0     0-0    0   0    0
Greene	          0-0     0-0    0   0    0
Laxton   	  0-0     0-0    1   0    0
Elzy	          0-1     0-0    0   0    0
Clement	          3-4     0-0    1   1    6
Geter	          1-1     1-2    7   3    3
Team			         6
Totals	        35-69    19-25  47  13   93

SITE: Kansas City, MO
HALFTIME: Tennessee 55, Louisiana Tech 32
THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS: Louisiana Tech 6-18 (Jackson 4-12,
Maxwell 1-3, Scheppmann 1-2, Stallworth 0-1);
Tennessee 4-9 (Jolly 4-5, Catchings 0-4)
OFFICIALS: Sally Bell, Bob Trammell, Wesley Dean



              HOME              AWAY            NEUTRAL         TOTAL
RECORDS (SEC) 16-0 (8-0)        11-0 (6-0)      12-0 (0-0)      39-0 (17-0)
ATTENDANCE    239,233 (14,952)  50,091 (4,554)  97,111 (8,093)  386,435 (9,909)
HIGH ATTEND.   24,597           14,848          17,976           24,597


Holdsclaw  39-39 1168-29.9  370-678   .546    9-41   .220  166-217  .765
Catchings  39-37 1123-28.8  253-471   .537   40-110  .364  165-217  .760
Randall    38-21  987-26.0  224-460   .487    1-11   .091  155-213  .728
Jolly      39-38 1045-26.8  100-216   .463   36-86   .419   59-70   .843
Elzy       24-18  450-18.8   60-147   .408    0-2    .000   48-70   .686
Geter      39-9   815-20.9   98-179   .547    0-0    .000   48-77   .623
Clement    33-0   684-20.7   59-140   .421   11-36   .306   56-87   .644
Stephens   39-31  724-18.6   60-195   .308    0-1    .000   37-63   .587
Milligan    9-1    60-6.7     6-14    .429    2-7    .286    4-7    .571
Greene     34-0   275-8.1    24-83    .289    7-51   .137   12-14   .857
Butts      33-0   176-5.3    22-53    .415    0-0    .000   16-35   .457
Laxton     33-1   293-8.9    12-43    .279    0-0    .000   16-40   .400
TENN       39    7800      1288-2679  .481  106-345  .307  782-1110 .705
OPP        39    7800       852-2309  .369  132-477  .277  454-656  .692

Holdsclaw  133-195  328-8.4  82-0   117  109   36  110   915   23.5
Catchings  124-189  313-8.0  89-2    92   93   61  100   711   18.2
Randall    108-92   200-5.3  71-3    50   84    5  102   604   15.9
Jolly       21-67    88-2.3  56-0   148   64    6   72   295    7.6
Elzy        56-41    97-4.0  48-1    37   36   13   35   168    7.0
Geter       74-112  186-4.8 104-4    31   56   93   46   244    6.3
Clement     19-55    74-2.2  59-0   107   79    5   49   185    5.6
Stephens    60-71   131-3.4  90-3     6   41   14   22   157    4.0
Milligan     1-3      4-0.4   5-0     6    4    0    4    18    2.0
Greene      11-29    40-1.2  23-0    12   16    2   10    67    2.0
Butts       15-21    36-1.1  25-0    11   21    1   11    60    1.8
Laxton      27-36    63-1.9  24-0     7   28    2    6    40    1.2
TENN       649-911 1728-44.3  676   624  646  238  567  3464   88.8
OPP        579-824 1403-36.0  856   428 1000  113  273  2290   58.7


PLAYER     G    FG   FGA   3P   3PA   FT    FTA   AST   TO  RATIO BK   ST
Holdsclaw  39   9.5  17.4  0.2  1.1   4.3   5.6   3.0   2.8  1.1  0.9  2.8
Catchings  39   6.5  12.1  1.0  2.8   4.2   5.6   2.4   2.4  1.0  1.6  2.6
Randall    38   5.9  12.1  0.0  0.3   4.1   5.6   1.3   2.2  0.6  0.1  2.7
Jolly      39   2.6   5.5  0.9  2.2   1.5   1.8   3.8   1.6  2.3  0.2  1.8
Elzy       24   2.5   6.1  0.0  0.1   2.0   2.9   1.5   1.5  1.0  0.5  1.5
Geter      39   2.5   4.6  0.0  0.0   1.2   2.0   0.8   1.4  0.6  2.4  1.2
Clement    33   1.8   4.2  0.3  1.1   1.7   2.6   3.2   2.4  1.4  0.2  1.5
Stephens   39   1.5   5.0  0.0  0.0   0.9   1.6   0.2   1.1  0.1  0.4  0.6
Milligan    9   0.7   1.6  0.2  0.8   0.4   0.8   0.7   0.4  1.5  0.0  0.4
Greene     34   0.7   2.4  0.2  1.5   0.4   0.4   0.4   0.5  0.8  0.1  0.3
Butts      33   0.7   1.6  0.0  0.0   0.5   1.1   0.3   0.6  0.5  0.0  0.3
Laxton     33   0.4   1.3  0.0  0.0   0.5   1.2   0.2   0.8  0.3  0.1  0.2
TENNESSEE  39  33.0  68.7  2.7  8.8  20.1  28.5  16.0  16.6  .96  6.1 14.5
OPPONENTS  39  21.8  59.2  3.4 12.2  11.6  16.8  11.0  26.6  .43  2.9  7.0


              1ST           2ND        OT  TOTAL
TENNESSEE   1,689         1,775         0  3,464
OPPONENTS   1,083         1,207         0  2,290
DIFFERENCE  +606 (+15.5)  +568 (+14.6)  0  +1,174 (+30.1)


1997-98 SCHEDULE

Nov. 9US Armed ForcesKnoxville, TN6:00W111-54
Nov. 18Mississippi   (FOX SS)Knoxville, TN7:00W92-541-0 (1-0)
Nov. 21Louisiana TechKnoxville, TN7:00W75-612-0
Nov. 23Tennessee-MartinMartin, TN2:00CTW73-323-0
Nov. 25VermontKnoxville, TN7:00W92-524-0
Nov. 29Stanford   (FOX)San Jose, CA12:30PTW88-705-0
Nov. 30PortlandPortland, OR5:00PTW74-516-0
Dec. 3Texas   (FOX SS)Knoxville, TN7:00W98-647-0
Big Apple ClassicRiverdale, NY
Dec. 6George Mason1:00W93-618-0
Dec. 7Manhattan3:00W78-289-0
Dec. 12SEC/BIG 10 Challenge   (ESPN)Knoxville, TN
Florida vs Purdue
Tennessee vs Illinois

Dec. 18-20Northern Lights Invitational   (espn2)Anchorage, AK
Pepperdine vs Mississippi
Wisconsin vs Manhattan
Texas A&M vs Alaska
Tennessee vs Akron

Pepperdine vs Manhattan
Alaska vs Akron
Ole Miss vs Wisconsin
Texas A&M vs Tennessee

Pepperdine vs Alaska
Manattan vs Akron
Texas A&M vs Ole Miss
Tennessee vs Wisconsin

Jan. 1ArkansasKnoxville, TN2:00W88-5814-0 (2-0)
Jan. 3Connecticut   (CBS)Knoxville, TN4:00W84-6915-0
Jan. 6South CarolinaColumbia, SC7:00W94-5216-0 (3-0)
Jan. 10FloridaKnoxville, TN7:00W99-6017-0 (3-0)
Jan. 14GeorgiaAthens, GA7:30W96-7118-0 (4-0)
Jan. 18KentuckyLexington, KY2:00W93-6519-0(5-0)
Jan. 20DePaulChicago, IL7:00CTW125-4620-0
Jan. 25Vanderbilt   (FOX SS)Knoxville, TN3:00W86-5421-0 (7-0)
Jan. 28GeorgiaKnoxville, TN7:00W102-4322-0 (8-0)
Feb. 1AlabamaKnoxville, TN3:00W73-6623-0 (9-0)
Feb. 4MississippiOxford, MS7:00CTW91-4524-0 (10-0)
Feb. 7Old Dominion   (ESPN)Knoxville, TN6:00W85-6125-0
Feb. 9Mississippi StateStarkville, MS7:00CTW74-5226-0 (11-0)
Feb. 12MemphisMemphis, TN7:00CTW91-6527-0
Feb. 14AuburnKnoxville, TN7:00W79-6328-0 (12-0)
Feb. 16Vanderbilt   (ESPN)Nashville, TN3:00CTW91-6029-0 (13-0)
Feb. 22Louisiana StateKnoxville, TN2:00W90-5830-0 (14-0)
Feb. 26-Mar. 1SEC TournamentColumbus, GA
Mississippi St.Columbus, GA1:00W88-6031-0
Vanderbilt   (Fox SS)Columbus, GA6:30W106-4532-0
Alabama   (espn2)Columbus, GA6:30W67-6333-0
Mar. 14&16NCAA 1st & 2nd RdsKnoxville, TN
Mar. 14Liberty8:30W102-5834-0
Mar. 16W. Kentucky   (ESPN)9:30W82-6235-0
Mar. 21&23NCAA Mideast Regionals
(ESPN and espn2)
Nashville, TN
Mar. 21RutgersNashville, TN8:30 CTW92-6036-0
Mar. 23North CarolinaNashville, TN8:30 CTW76-7037-0
Mar. 27&29NCAA Final FourKansas City, MO
Mar. 27Arkansas   (ESPN)Kansas City, MO9:00 CTW86-5838-0
Mar. 29Louisiana Tech   (ESPN)Kansas City, MO8:00 CTW93-7539-0

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---- PC 4/23/01