Senior Nitasha Brown
March 3, 2006
North Little Rock, Ark. -
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Candace Parker had 17 points and 12 rebounds in her first SEC tournament game, leading No. 8 Tennessee over Auburn 77-45 in the quarterfinals Friday.
Parker, the Southeastern Conference freshman of the year, scored all her points in the first half as the Lady Vols built a 40-26 lead. Tennessee quickly pushed its lead to 35 in the second half and advanced to play either No. 12 Georgia or No. 23 Vanderbilt in the semifinals Saturday.
The Lady Vols (26-4) overwhelmed the Tigers at the start of each half. Tennessee led 13-0 after 4:03 of the first and went on a 24-3 run to start the second. Shanna Zolman made three 3-pointers during the second-half spurt and finished 4-of-6 from long range - she scored 16 points.
Tye'sha Fluker led Tennessee with 19 points. She also had eight rebounds.
The Lady Vols haven't been their dominant selves in 2005-06, finishing second in the SEC at 11-3 - their first regular season with more than one conference loss since 1997.
Tennessee point guard Alexis Hornbuckle was lost for the season last month with a broken wrist, and the Lady Vols have started only one player - Parker - every game this season. Tennessee has lost to two unranked teams in one season for the first time since the women's rankings started in 1976. The second of those defeats was Sunday's regular-season finale, a 95-93 home loss in overtime to Florida.
But the Lady Vols bounced back, especially on defense. Auburn (14-15) finished with only four assists and shot 28 percent from the field.
Zolman, a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior, has 78 3-pointers this season, one shy of Kara Lawson's school record.
Tennessee eliminated Auburn from the SEC tournament for the third time in four years. The Lady Vols' last loss to the Tigers anywhere was in the 1997 tournament.