Sunday, April 6, 2003

This is no ordinary trip for Lady Vols

Duke in way of UT title hopes

The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Maybe it was the bus ride. Or because she has done it all before. Whatever the reason, Tennessee's Kara Lawson was a little confused Saturday, even as she took in the vastness of the Georgia Dome.

"To me, it doesn't really feel like a Final Four. We took a bus down here," she said. "That was kind of weird. It was like we were just going down the road to play a conference game or something."

Make no mistake, this is no routine Southeastern Conference game. The Lady Vols (32-4) play Duke (35-1) in the national semifinals tonight, with the winner advancing to Tuesday night's championship game to face Texas or Connecticut. And that's where Lawson, a senior guard, wants to end a career that has had more highs than lows. This is her third Final Four, and Tennessee has won at least a share of the SEC championship every year she has been there.

But Tennessee teams are judged on whether they win national championships. The Lady Vols have six, twice as many as anyone else. But the last title came in 1998, and no one on this team has experienced winning one.

"But as a competitor, as a basketball player, everyone here came to win a championship," Lawson said.

That determination won't matter if the Lady Vols can't handle Duke's Alana Beard. When Duke beat Tennessee 76-55 Nov. 24, Beard had 22 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Plus, Duke has unfinished business after losing in the national semifinals last season.

"This year we don't want to leave here empty-handed," Beard said.

Tennessee (32-4)

Tournament Record: 79-15, 22 years.

Top Scorers: Gwen Jackson 15.9, Kara Lawson 14.5, Shyra Ely 10.1. Top Rebounders: Ely 6.7, Ashley Robinson 5.3, Jackson 5.8. Top Assists: Loree Moore 4.0, Lawson 3.9, Tasha Butts 2.4. 3-Point Threats: Lawson 74, Shanna Zolman 37, Brittany Jackson 29.

Duke (35-1)

Tournament Record: 24-9, 10 years.

Top Scorers: Alana Beard 21.8, Iciss Tillis 14.6, Sheana Mosch 7.8. Top Rebounders: Tillis 7.4, Beard 6.9, Lindsey Harding 3.9. Top Assists: Harding 3.3, Beard 3.0. 3-Point Threats: Vicki Krapohl 59, Tillis 46.

Reds lose, Junior's hurt
Dunn angered by fan reaction to Griffey
Crosley was home of HRs before new park
Reds notebook: Team, Vaughn's agent talk
Reds Q&A

Sosa put 500 behind, thinks bigger numbers
NL: Phils thump Pirates
AL: Royals are 5-0

Bengals Q&A

Syracuse 95, Texas 84
Kansas 94, Marquette 61
Daugherty: Souped-up Jayhawks
Kansas vs. Syracuse for NCAA championship
Texas couldn't break the Syracuse zone
Williams gets another shot
Wade's world comes crashing down
Final Four notebook
Final Four week tarnished by coaching speculation
NCAA aggregate leaders

This is no ordinary trip for Lady Vols
Texas' goal: Stop Taurasi
Auriemma, Taurasi pick up top honors

West wins 4th player of year award

Loyola pioneered integrated basketball
Cronin gets top job at Murray State

Groeschen: Prep insider
Prep results

Baseball movies, fair and foul
UC's cricket club gearing up for season
Enquirer Page Two power rankings

QB Krenzel sharpens focus

Janzen dials 2-stroke BellSouth lead
Tiger Woods focused on unprecedented three-peat

Buddy Gil punches ticket to Kentucky
Elloluv impressive in Ashland win

Earnhardt Jr. wins Busch race
Little E chasing history at Talladega
Rubinho on pole for home F1 race

Samsonov return bodes well for B's in playoffs
Ducks LW Severson recalled to Anaheim

Suns stop T-Wolves in playoff run
Adelman has no mercy for upstarts in playoffs

Spain vs. Argentina in semis

Sports this weekend on TV, radio