Daedra Charles scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half Saturday to lead Ten Women's
NCAAsnessee into the NCAA women's basketball title game with a 68-60 victory over defending champion Stanford.Tennessee will play in Sunday's final against Virginia, which got 16 points from Tonya Cordoza in posting a 61-55 victory over Connecticut.
After trailing for much of the game, Tennessee battled back to take a 56-54 lead on a three-point play by Peggy Evans with 4:39 remaining. From there, the Lady Vols combined eight more points on free throws with field goals by Dena Head and Jody Adams to hold off the Cardinal.
Head finished with 15 points for Tennessee and Adams had 14, including 13 in the second half.
"The second half was played the way we have played to get here," Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said. "It's a compliment to Daedra to get refocused and get the offense going. Daedra's confidence and our inside people helped us."
Sonja Henning led Stanford with 18 points, while Kelly Dougherty had 15 and Val Whiting 10.
"We made mistakes and we couldn't get running like we were (in the first half)," Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We couldn't get the boards. They were boxing us out. We lost momentum."
Intense defensive play marked the first half, which Stanford led 28-21 in the lowest-scoring half in women's Final Four history. The first score did not come until two minutes into the game, when Lisa Harrison hit a jumper for Tennessee.
"In the first half we did not do a good job of reading the boards," Summitt said. "I reminded Daedra that she had to play hard and smart, and come up with other scoring options."
Stanford forward Julie Zeilstra, who has been plagued by Achilles problems through the season, pulled a calf muscle in her right leg during the warmups and was unable to play.
In the first game, Cordoza hit four free throws in the final 22 seconds as Virginia became the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to reach the NCAA women's final.
Cordoza's free throws, coming about 2 1/2 minutes after missing a pair from the line, held off an aggressive charge by the Huskies that brought them back from a 14-point deficit to within two points of the lead.
Virginia's Melanee Wagener sealed the win with a two-pointer at the buzzer after taking a pass from Dawn Staley, who had stolen the ball on Connecticut's final possession.
"I felt like this game would go like it did, that Connecticut would slow it down," Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan said. "At the end they came down the floor faster and started making their shots. When it gets to two or three points, anyone could win.
"They held us to 61 with good defense. Most importantly, we weathered the storm. It showed we could bend but not break."
Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma, who had been an assistant to Ryan until six years ago, said the Virginia defense kept his team off its pace.
"The beat us because of too much quickness, and they got all the loose balls," Auriemma said. "All we asked was to put us in a position to win. We dug such a deep hole in the beginning."
Tammy Reiss added 15 points for the Cavaliers, while Staley finished with 11.
Virginia led 34-24 at halftime and expanded its lead to a 14-point margin with 16:03 left in the game on a pair of free throws by Heather Burge.
The Huskies closed within 55-53 with 23 seconds remaining when Kerry Bascom scored following a pair of free throws each by Wendy Davis and Debbie Baer. Davis led Connecticut with 17 points, while Bascom had 14.