Hornbuckle's putback with 0.7 left lifts Tennessee into title game

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- With points in short supply, Alexis Hornbuckle made her only two count.

It was just enough to put defending champion Tennessee back into the title game.

Hornbuckle's putback with seven-tenths of a second left lifted the Lady Vols to a 47-46 victory over LSU in Sunday night's national semifinal. It was the lowest scoring game in Final Four history.

"I couldn't make a shot all night, but honestly, that was the only one that mattered," Hornbuckle said. "I just wanted to stay positive and I crashed the boards and looked up and I said I didn't want to pull this down, with my luck I might as well try to tip it in. And luckily it went in."

Candace Parker did all she could with her bum shoulder, scoring 13 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to lead the Lady Vols.

"It was a tough battle, LSU is a great team, my teammates pulled it out," said Parker, who was just 6-for-27 from the field. "The shoulder is fine, I'm proud of my teammates, we're going to the championship game."

Tennessee (35-2) moved within a win of its eighth national championship. To do it, the Lady Vols will have to beat Stanford, which stunned Connecticut 82-73 in the other semifinal.

The Lady Vols are looking to become the first repeat champions since the Huskies won three straight titles from 2002-04.

Meanwhile, LSU's Final Four drought continued. The Lady Tigers, who have been a Final Four staple the last five seasons, again failed to make it to the championship game. LSU, only the second team to play in five straight Final Fours matching the feat accomplished by Connecticut from 2000-04, has lost all five appearances.

"It's a really a tough loss when I think about these kids and what they have gone through for four years," LSU coach Van Chancellor said. "I really feel for them."

All-American Sylvia Fowles tried in vain to avoid losing her fourth straight Final Four. She scored 24 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead LSU (31-6), but it wasn't enough.

"I got off to a slow start, I think I was either anxious or nervous." Fowles said. "I picked it up in about the last eight minutes and things started to go my way."

Fowles, who played all 40 minutes, cramped up in the last few minutes and did the best she could to finish the game.

"It was tough, I kept looking at Ashley Thomas and she kept me motivated and kept telling me there was three minutes to go or two minutes to go, hang in there."

An exhausted Fowles couldn't make it to the press conference as her legs cramped up.

Tennessee clung to a 45-44 lead with 7.1 seconds left when Hornbuckle fouled Erica White on the sideline. The senior calmly stepped up and hit both free throws to give LSU a one-point lead.

After a timeout, Parker drove the length of the court and passed the ball to Nicky Anosike, who missed a layup. Hornbuckle grabbed the rebound and put it back up and in to give Tennessee the one-point lead -- and the eventual win.

"I was fearful that it was over with because of the clock, and then Lex comes up and just makes a tremendous play," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "When you look at Alexis, and I've said this, she's one of the most athletic guards I've ever coached."

LSU had one last chance but their inbounds with 0.7 left was intercepted at midcourt, and Tennessee celebrated its hard-fought victory.

"They got the rebound, they got a second chance at it and that's how they won the game," White said. "I was trying to keep the ball in front of us, trying to stop the ball. That's something we didn't do. We just didn't make a play, we failed to make a play at the end ... that's how you lose."

Parker's shoulder clearly wasn't at 100 percent as she was constantly short on jumpers, including shooting an air ball, but she aggressively went for rebounds with both hands and blocked shots. She finished just 6-for-27 from the field.

She has been rehabbing the shoulder constantly the last few days after dislocating it twice against Texas A&M in the Oklahoma City Regional final. Wearing a white long sleeve shirt underneath her No. 3 jersey for the first time this season, The Associated Press player of the year got off to a slow start offensively missing her first five shots before hitting a turnaround jumper 8 minutes into the first half.

The anticipated matchup between Parker and Fowles -- the expected top two picks in the WNBA draft Wednesday -- also got off to a slow start as they combined to miss nine of their first 11 shots.

The two guarded each other for parts of the first half. Parker didn't get going offensively until she had her shot thrown back at her by Fowles when she tried to drive on the 6-foot-6 center. Fowles converted the layup on the other end, but then Parker scored six of the next eight points on an array of moves.

The game got off to a slow start as the teams combined to go 2-for-23 over the first 8 minutes -- and it wasn't because of stellar defense. They were just missing open shots, and all the Hall of Fame coaches Summitt and Chancellor could do was smile.

After Parker's scoring spurt gave the Lady Vols a 19-11 lead with 5:39 left in the half, LSU closed with a 7-3 run at the intermission to make it 22-18. It was the lowest scoring half in Final Four history. The 18 points by LSU broke the record for futility the Lady Tigers set last season, when they had 19 in the first half against Rutgers.

LSU scored the first five points of the second half to take a 25-24 lead -- its first since midway through the first half.

Tennessee answered with a 12-2 run as Shannon Bobbitt hit two 3-pointers to give the Lady Vols a 37-27 lead -- its largest -- with 11:15 left.

LSU came right back scoring the next 10 points to tie it at 37.

After Quianna Chaney drove the length of the court to give LSU a 45-44 lead, Alberta Auguste then missed a jumper from the corner that White rebounded to set up the fantastic finish.