Tennessee 71, Baylor 69
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)—Even Tennessee coach Pat Summitt hated the way this one ended.
Tasha Butts hit two free throws after a questionable call with 0.2 seconds left to give top-seeded Tennessee a 71-69 victory over Baylor in the Midwest Regional semifinals Sunday night.
Shyra Ely missed a fast-break layup as the clock ticked down and Butts was unable to tap in the putback. In the scramble for the loose ball, Baylor’s Jessika Stratton collided with Butts and was called for a foul.
Officials huddled after the buzzer and reviewed the replay on a courtside television monitor to see if the foul came before time ran out.
After a few moments, Butts went to the line and sank both shots.
“I hate to see a good game end like that,” Summitt said. “Tonight was a situation where there were a lot of calls everybody is on edge about.”
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson was definitely upset. She alternated between being somber and angry at the postgame news conference.
“I don’t like to see basketball games end like you all just saw,” Mulkey-Robertson said. “I don’t think Pat Summitt does either. Didn’t she say that?
“I think you want the kids to decide the outcome of the game.”
Mulkey-Robertson said this might have been the most bizarre ending she had ever been a part of.
“I don’t know that I’ve been involved in one where the game was over and they put time back on the clock and they shot free throws,” she said.
For Baylor senior forward Dionne Brown, it was a devastating way to end her college career.
“I can’t blame it on one play, except the one at the end. I think overtime should have probably happened. I’m sorry. I had to say it,” Brown said.
“Right there in your grasp and it gets taken away from you,” she added. “You have to really look at that as a senior and shake your head.”
Kenny Mossman, spokesman for host team Oklahoma, said NCAA officials are only made available to reporters to explain fights and when the tournament committee determines it is in the best interests of the tournament. The committee deemed that the end of the game was “self explanatory,” so the officials were not available for comment, Mossman said.
Ely finished with 19 points to lead top-seeded Tennessee (29-3), which will play in the round of eight for the ninth time in 10 years.
The Lady Vols will play sixth-seeded Stanford, which beat Vanderbilt on a late 3-pointer in the early game, on Tuesday night.
Butts scored 16, LaToya Davis 12 and Shanna Zolman added 10.
Emily Niemann scored 19 to lead fourth-seeded Baylor (26-9). Stratton added 17 and Sophia Young had 13.
With the game tied at 69 and 31 seconds left, Stratton dribbled the ball down to 9 seconds before driving to the basket and giving the ball away.
Ely took it the length of the court, but couldn’t make the layup.
“We turned it over. They go down the floor and the rest is history,” Mulkey-Robertson said. “There will be a lot of replays.”
Baylor, which was seeded fourth and making its first appearance in the round of 16, seemed to be in control with 6:41 to play. Brown put the Bears ahead 64-57 on a layup, then Tennessee star Ashley Robinson was whistled for her fifth foul at the other end.
As Baylor fans screamed “Go Baylor Go,” Tennessee fans sat and waited for the Lady Vols to come back. Ely turned to the crowd and gestured for the orange-clad faithful to make some noise.
Tennessee responded immediately with a 12-3 run, taking the lead on Ely’s jumper in the lane.
But after Young’s one-hander in the lane tied the game at 69, Ely missed two free throws to give Baylor possession with 57 seconds left.
Niemann pulled down a Brown miss with 31 seconds to play and the ball was knocked out of bounds, handing possession back to Baylor.
But the Bears never got off another shot and the Lady Vols survived a scare.
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