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Tennessee edges LSU to reach title game

Apr 7, 2008 - 4:47 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Alexis Hornbuckle scored on a putback shot with seven-tenths of a second left to lift Tennessee to a 47-46 victory over Louisiana State on Sunday in the national semifinals.

Hornbuckle's dramatic follow shot of a miss by Nicky Anosike sent the defending champion Lady Vols (35-2) into Tuesday's title game against Stanford.

It was the only basket for Hornbuckle, who finished 1-of-8 from the floor and came after LSU's Erica White hit a pair of free throws to put the Tigers ahead, 46-45, with 7.1 seconds to play.

"I mean, of course I realized I didn't make a shot all night," Hornbuckle said. "It was frustrating, but at the same time I knew I couldn't give up on myself and my team. It's bigger than yourself when you come to the Final Four.

"I just wanted to stay positive and I crashed the boards and I looked up and I said, I don't want to pull this down; with my luck, I might as well try to tip it in. And luckily it went in."

It also was a bitter loss for the Tigers (31-6), who are only the second team to earn a berth in five consecutive Final Fours but never have advanced to the championship game.

"Up one, they've got to go the full length of the court," LSU coach Van Chancellor said. "And it's really a tough loss when I think about these kids and what all they have gone through for four years. I really feel for them.

Candace Parker, playing with a separated left shoulder, had 13 points and 15 rebounds for seven-time national champion Tennessee, which lost in overtime at Stanford, 73-69, in December.

On the game-winning play, the 6-4 Parker took an inbound pass and dashed the length of the court before passing to the 6-4 Anosike.

"I knew I wanted to just come down and create, whether it was a shot or a pass, whatever it was," Parker said. "We've worked on that in practice a number of times and been in those situations. So I was just going to take what the defense gave me."

Sylvia Fowles had 24 points and 20 rebounds for the Tigers, who erased a 10-point second-half deficit despite connecting on just 7-of-19 shots at the free-throw line.

Shannon Bobbitt scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, and Alberta Auguste added 10 for Tennessee.

"I'm just proud of our team for fighting through some adversity, when things wouldn't go our way, for whatever reason," Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said. "I thought our defense did step up and also I thought we had different players step up and help us out tonight, and that was huge for us."

The teams had split two earlier meetings this season. LSU rallied from a 21-2 deficit to win at Tennessee, 78-62, in the regular season before the Lady Vols avenged that defeat with a 61-55 victory in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

"I think we've had an awesome career here," White said. "For any team to make it to the Final Four one time - I don't care what anyone says - is an accomplishment. For us to get here every year is definitely something that no one can discredit. We have done some amazing things here."