Parker, Tennessee face Rutgers in title game

Apr 3, 2007 - 1:02 PM By PA SportsTicker

Candace Parker believes Tennessee has gone too long without a national championship. She can help put an end to the drought.

The top-seeded Lady Vols (33-3) face fourth-seeded Rutgers (27-8) in the women's NCAA championship game Tuesday night at Cleveland.

Pat Summitt is college basketball's all-time winningest coach and has guided Tennessee to a record six national championships. But the last one came in 1998.

"I told our players we're not going to leave Cleveland without the national championship," Summitt said.

The 6-5 Parker, who is averaging 19.7 points and 9.9 rebounds, is as determined as her coach.

"One more, that's all we need," Parker said. "It's time to win a championship. It's been long enough for this program."

Tennessee has lost its last three title games - in 2000, 2003 and 2004, all to Connecticut - since the magical 1998 season in which it finished unbeaten and blazed to its third consecutive national championship.

Rutgers upset No. 1 ranked Duke in this NCAA Tournament and demolished Louisiana State, 59-35, in the Final Four. But the Scarlet Knights have never won an NCAA title.

Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer is the only female coach to guide three different programs to the Final Four - Cheyney State in 1982, Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers in 2000 and 2007.

"Nobody gave us a chance, but we're here," Stringer said. "I do believe this is a team of destiny."

Matee Ajavon scored 16 points and Essence Carson 15 for Rutgers, which held the Lady Tigers to the fewest points ever scored in a Final Four.

Tennessee rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit in a 56-50 victory over North Carolina in the national semifinals on Sunday night. Parker collected 14 points and 13 rebounds and Nicky Anosike added 14 and seven.

The Lady Vols are 5-0 all-time against the Scarlet Knights in NCAA Tournament play.

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