PHILADELPHIA -- Tennessee's Shyra Ely is one win away from a
Ely scored 23 points and led the top-seeded Lady Vols into their
20th regional final with a 75-59 win over Texas Tech on Sunday.
The Lady Vols (29-4) will play either second-seeded Ohio State
or No. 3 Rutgers in the Philadelphia Regional on Monday night for a
trip to the Final Four in Indianapolis.
Ely can't wait to get there. The 2001 Indiana Miss Basketball
from Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis has set a goal of
playing her final game in her home state. She already told her
parents they can dole out tickets only to fans who have been to a
Tennessee game this year -- not a bandwagon jumper.
With the way Tennessee is playing, Ely might get her wish.
The Lady Vols used a smothering defense to shut down the
fourth-seeded Lady Raiders (24-8) and help coach Pat Summitt build
on her NCAA record with her 881st career victory.
Alexis Hornbuckle scored 14 points, and Nicky Anosike added 11
points and 11 rebounds as part of a balanced offense for Tennessee.
"I thought Shyra really stepped up and played like an
All-American," Summitt said. "She had a lot of help, too."
Texas Tech entered with four players scoring in double figures,
but never got any offensive rhythm. The Lady Raiders missed their
first eight shots and made only nine baskets in the first half.
LaToya Davis had 12 points and Judith Smith added 10.
The Lady Raiders briefly snapped out of their slump in the
second half, and Darrice Griffin's basket in the lane pulled the
Lady Raiders to 52-41 with just over 9 minutes left.
But Ely made a couple of free throws and Hornbuckle hit a jumper
to push the lead back to 15.
Ely exited to a standing ovation with 1:10 left in the game. Of
course, it only seemed appropriate in the city of Rocky, there was
"Rocky Top." These Lady Vols, though, were no underdogs.
Tennessee, which has won six national championships but none
since 1998, cruised to easy wins in the first two rounds of the
NCAA tournament, and Ely led the way in this one.
She got the Lady Vols going midway through the first half,
scoring six straight points to help build a 15-point lead. When Ely
scored another easy inside basket late in the half, the couple
hundred orange-clad fans who made the nearly 625-mile trip erupted.
Tennessee led 40-26 at the break.
Ely finished 8-for-11 from the floor and made eight of 11 free
The Lady Vols improved to 5-0 against Texas Tech, including a
win in the 2000 regional final that sent them to Philadelphia.