Rutgers, Tennessee advance to title game

Monday, April 2, 2007
Rutgers' Kia Vaughn (15), Heather Zurich (21) and Matee Ajavon (22) celebrated their semifinal win Sunday over LSU at the Final Four in Cleveland. Rutgers defeated Louisiana State 59-35. (TONY DEJAK ~ Associated Press)

CLEVELAND -- Rutgers' improbable run isn't over.

The Scarlet Knights earned their first trip to the national championship behind Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer with another unlikely scenario -- dominating the LSU Lady Tigers from the opening tip.

Matee Ajavon scored 16 points and Rutgers (27-8) hounded 6-foot-6 Sylvia Fowles to beat LSU 59-35 in a national semifinal Sunday night. The Scarlet Knights used a swarming defense and hot touch from behind the arc to blow out LSU, which scored the fewest points ever in the Final Four -- Louisiana Tech had 44 vs. Tennessee in '87 title game.

Rugers will face Tennessee (33-3) in Tuesday's championship game. Tennessee defeated North Carolina 56-50 in the other semifinal.

The Lady Tigers (30-8), who were making their fourth straight Final Four appearance, ended a surprising tournament run behind acting head coach Bob Starkey. He was thrust into the spotlight when coach Pokey Chatman abruptly resigned March 7 amid allegations of improper conduct with one or more former players.

Erica White scored nine points to lead LSU, which also set Final Four lows for field goal percentage (26.4) and fewest field goals (14).

Tennessee avenged last year's loss to the Tar Heels (34-4) on the same floor in the Cleveland Regional final.

Candice Parker wrestled the ball away from North Carolina's Alex Miller in the final minute and the Lady Vols rallied to win.

The Lady Vols set a Final Four record with 20 steals and outscored the Tar Heels 20-2 over the final 8:08 to earn their 12th trip to the title game.

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