Saturday, March 24, 2001

Xavier 80, Tennessee 65

Musketeers stun 6-time champ

AP Sports Writer

Taru Tuukkanen (5) celebrates with Amy Waugh (3).
(AP photos)
| ZOOM |
        BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Xavier pulled off a stunning upset, knocking Tennessee out of the NCAA tournament, sending the Lady Vols to their earliest exit in seven years.

        The Musketeers overcame top-seeded Tennessee's height advantage and athleticism with sharp shooting and outstanding team play to earn an 80-65 victory Saturday in the Mideast Regional semifinals. The Musketeers play Purdue at 8:10 p.m. Monday night for a berth in the Final Four.

        Xavier (31-2) built a 10-point lead in the first half, fought off Tennessee's repeated comeback attempts and, remarkably, won going away for its 21st straight victory.

        “We didn't want to go into this game intimidated,” Xavier's Nicole Levandusky said. “If you go into a game like that, you're already defeated. You've got to go in with positive thinking, "We can beat this team,' and that's exactly what we did.”

        “We hope this puts us on the map,” Xavier's Amy Waugh said. “We've been looking to get some national recognition all year. But we're not satisfied. We want to go to the Final Four.”

Nicole Levandusky had 19 points.
| ZOOM |
Jennifer Phillips scored 17.
| ZOOM |
Tuukkanen had 12.
| ZOOM |
        Xavier's Jennifer Phillips injured a knee late in the game but returned. She was to undergo an MRI Saturday to determine the extent of her injury. She said she expected to play Monday night.

        Tennessee's unmatched tradition, which includes six national championships, and all of Pat Summitt's coaching acumen could not save the Lady Vols (30-3) in this one. It was the earliest Tennessee has been eliminated from the tournament since a loss to Louisiana Tech in the 1994 regional semifinals.

Tennessee coach Pat Summit accepts her fate.
| ZOOM |
        Sensing defeat, Summitt sat passively on the bench as the final two minutes were played and Xavier made enough free throws to stay safely ahead. Her anger surfaced afterward.

        “I am more upset with this team and disappointed in this team than I am (sorry) for this team,” Summitt said. “This team did not deserve anything other than the outcome they got.”

        Some of her players cried on the bench as Levandusky dribbled out the final seconds, and moments later as Xavier players celebrated at midcourt.

        It was, indeed, a victory to get excited about. Consider this: When Tennessee won its fifth national title at Cincinnati in 1997, Xavier was one of the host schools and had just completed a 10-17 season.

Xavier coach Melanie Balcomb
| ZOOM |
        “Our rap is that we're slow and we're non-athletic,” Xavier coach Melanie Balcomb said. “I don't think we're that slow and I don't think we're that non-athletic.”

        Tennessee had made five Final Four trips in the past six years and won three national titles. But there won't be another for seniors Semeka Randall and Kristen Clement, who were part of a ballyhooed freshman class that helped the Lady Vols go undefeated in winning the 1998 title.

        The third member of that class and the team's best player, Tamika Catchings, has not played since tearing a knee ligament Jan. 15. Summitt had hoped to get Catchings on the floor for a few seconds if the Lady Vols made it to the national championship. That won't be possible now.

        “They beat us in transition. We got killed,” said Randall, who was 0-for-9 and scoreless in her final game. “Things happen for a reason. For some odd reason, this happened to us.”

        As usual, Xavier had balanced scoring. Levandusky led with 19 points, Phillips scored 17, Waugh had 14, Tuukkanen 12 and Reeta Piipari 10. Piipari had six assists and Waugh five.

        “When you play a team like that, you can't have breakdowns on defense,” Summitt said. “They made us pay every time we had a mental breakdown.

Waugh charges.
| ZOOM |
        Tennessee outrebounded Xavier 43-33 but shot only 38 percent. Clement scored only three and Randall went 0-for-9 from the field while going scoreless. Gwen Jackson led Tennessee with 16 points. Ashley Robinson added 12, while Kara Lawson and Tasha Butts had 10 each.

        Xavier went ahead to stay when Levandusky hit a baseline jumper with 7:58 remaining, breaking a tie at 58. Waugh then was fouled by Lawson on a 3-point shot that was partially blocked and she made all three free throws for a 63-58 lead.

        Michelle Snow's putback drew Tennessee within 63-60, but that's as close as the Lady Vols would get.

        Waugh, who missed the first 19 games because of a ruptured Achilles' tendon, hit a baseline jumper with the shot clock about to expire and Xavier went on to score the next seven points, opening a 70-60 lead .

        Soon, Xavier was starting a parade to the free throw line as Tennessee fouled in a desperate attempt to cut into the lead. Xavier made 6-of-10 at the line in the final 1:38 and Tennessee couldn't convert at the other end.

        Xavier was in the round of 16 for the first time, but Tennessee looked like the newcomer for much of the first half. The Lady Vols rushed their shots against Xavier's zone defense, threw the ball away and got beat down the floor in transition.

The Musketeers celebrate.
| ZOOM |
        The Musketeers, passing and cutting with precision, made nine of their first 12 shots, including four straight in a 9-0 run that gave them a 21-11 lead. With Xavier having so many shooters, Tennessee couldn't cheat off anyone, forcing Summitt to try a zone, something she almost never does. That stalled Xavier long enough for Tennessee to catch up.

        Lawson and Butts each hit a 3-pointer to get the Lady Vols back in it, and another 3 by Butts gave Tennessee a 29-28 lead. Xavier answered with Waugh's driving shot and 3-pointers by Levandusky and Waugh, and the Musketeers led 40-36 at halftime.

        Jackson scored the first four points of the second half to bring Tennessee into a tie at 40. But Xavier answered every time Tennessee scored and the Lady Vols never got ahead.

        Xavier's five-member senior class -- Levandusky, Phillips, Tuukkenan, Jennifer Parr and Erin Hall -- is now 98-28 in four years.

        “I don't think we got a lot of national respect before,” Tuukkenan said. “Nationally, all I read after Selection Sunday was how Tennessee had the easy bracket and blow out everybody and get to the Final Four.

        “I think we're a really confident team, and we have five seniors are not ready to be done yet. Hopefully, we'll get some national respect after this.”

Complete tournament coverage at

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Phillips        35  8-14   1-3   2-5  0  2   17
Levandusky      37  7-16   2-4   0-6  1  3   19
Tuukkanen       28  4-10   4-5   2-8  0  3   12
Piipari         37   3-9   2-4   0-4  6  2   10
Parr            12   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Waugh           27   4-7   5-7   0-3  5  2   14
Kreager         17   2-2   0-0   1-1  2  2    4
Bell             7   1-2   2-2   0-1  1  1    4
TOTALS         200 29-61 16-25  5-28 15 15   80

Percentages: FG-.475, FT-.640. 3-Point Goals:
6-19, .316 (Levandusky 3-8, Piipari 2-7, Waugh
1-4). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 1
(Phillips). Turnovers: 9 (Phillips 2, Tuukkanen
2, Waugh 2, Bell, Kreager, Piipari). Steals: 11
(Levandusky 4, Tuukkanen 4, Waugh 2, Bell).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Jackson         28  6-10   3-4   5-9  0  2   16
Randall         22   0-9   0-0   2-5  0  1    0
Robinson        21  5-10   2-3   4-6  0  3   12
Lawson          38  4-14   0-0   0-7  3  2   10
Clement         14   1-3   1-1   0-1  2  2    3
Butts           15   3-4   2-3   1-4  0  3   10
Snow            23   4-9   1-2   1-5  0  4    9
A Mcdivitt      29   1-6   0-0   1-3  4  2    3
Canon            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Edwards          1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
C Mcdaniel       1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Pillow           7   1-1   0-0   1-2  0  2    2
TOTALS         200 25-66  9-13 15-42  9 22   65

Percentages: FG-.379, FT-.692. 3-Point Goals:
6-23, .261 (Jackson 1-2, Randall 0-2, Robinson
0-1, Lawson 2-9, Clement 0-1, Butts 2-3, A
Mcdivitt 1-5). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 6
(Jackson 2, Robinson, Butts, Snow, A Mcdivitt).
Turnovers: 19 (Butts 4, Lawson 4, A Mcdivitt 3,
Randall 3, Jackson 2, Pillow, Robinson, Snow).
Steals: 4 (A Mcdivitt 3, Robinson).
Xavier             40   40  -   80
Tennessee          36   29  -   65
Technical fouls: None. Officials: Teresa Dahlem,
Bryan Enterline, Kim Watt.

Xavier Stories
Hold the applause: Xavier has higher goal
Photo gallery
Phillips expects to play despite injury
Xavier beats Tennessee with secret weapon
Waugh provides spark off bench
Future bright for balanced Muskies
Tennessee players in shock
- Xavier 80, Tennessee 65
Purdue 74, Texas Tech 72
Southwest Missouri St. 81, Duke 71
Washington 84, Oklahoma 67
Connecticut 72, North Carolina State 58
Louisiana Tech 78, Missouri 67
Notre Dame 69, Utah 54
Vanderbilt 84, Iowa St. 65
Women's Sweet 16 pairings
Women's NCAA pairings

Young happy hitting second
Important day for Reitsma
Game report: Tigers 8, Reds 5
QB no more, Henson signs with Yankees
Report: Cavs job could lure Huggins
Boys basketball coverage
Girls basketball coverage
Elder falls short in state final
Tackle helped Panthers' run
Akron SVSM 63, Miami East 53
Batesville loses in Indiana 2A final
High School Insider
Indiana boys basketball scores
Kentucky girls Sweet Sixteen
Kettering Alter 62, Warrensville Hts. 48
Lexington Catholic wins Ky. girls title
Ohio boys basketball scores
Tipp City Bethel 79, Delphos St. John's 53
Balto Star upsets Spiral field
Spiral Stakes Notebook
Heart Mini-Marathon expects 12,000 today
Two Miami athletes stabbed in Oxford fight
WLW pulls off Reds coup
Auto Racing Insider
Best and worst of week in sports
SULLIVAN: Dynamic duo is Duke's difference
Duke 79, Southern California 69
Maryland 87, Stanford 73
Temple-Michigan State preview
Arizona-Illinois preview
Men's NCAA pairings
Men's Sweet 16 pairings
Philadelphia 4, Mighty Ducks 3
Stuff 123, Richmond 107

Return to Xavier front page...

Mail This Story (Click here) Send this story to a friend.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]