The seeds of Tennessee's women's college championship were sown in a bitter loss to Virginia last year.
Tennesee beat Virginia 70-67 in overtime Sunday in the championship game of the women's Final Four.Dena Head, a 72 percent shoooter from the line, hit two free throws to tie it at 60 in regulation, then hit five more in overtime to give Tennessee the title.
Last year, Virginia beat Tennessee 79-75 in overtime in the regional finals to keep the Lady Volunteers from playing in the 1990 Final Four at Knoxville.
"Last year, losing to Virginia in the tournament really hurt us," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. "We were upset losing to them in overtime and not having the opportunity to be in the Final Four on our home court and in front of our home fans."
It was Tennessee's third national title in five years. They also won in 1987 and 1989.
"Today's win feels like the greatest of all the national championships," Summitt said. "But in 1987 we were the underdogs, and that was Tennessee's first national title, so that was extra special.
"The 1989 championship was rewarding because we were ranked No. 1 and we were supposed to win. We did what we were supposed to do that year.
"This win is a lot like 1987's because again we were the underdogs. We overachieved, and it worked for us again."
Virginia (31-3) was ranked No. 1 through most of the season until losses to Penn State and Clemson dropped it to No. 2.
Tennessee (30-5) won the first overtime championship game in the 10 years that the NCAA has been sponsoring women's playoffs. Virginia led 60-55 with 1:25 to go in regulation when Head was fouled by Tonya Cardoza and converted a three-point play.
Tammi Reiss and Dawn Staley both missed with 48 seconds remaining, and with seven seconds left in regulation, Staley fouled Head, who hit both free throws to tie it.
Cardoza gave Virginia a brief lead in overtime, but Head hit two more free throws, Peggy Evans scored on a rebound, and Head hit the first of a two-shot free throw to make it 66-62.
After Cardoza's basket, Virginia got its only points from Staley, a follow of her own miss with 1:01 left and a 3-pointer with four seconds remaining.
Staley missed a chance to win it in regulation when she drove the length of the court for a layup in traffic, and Heather Burge couldn't get off a shot with the rebound.
"Dena Head did a great defensive job on the last shot," Staley said. "She blocked it. It was a great defensive play."
Virginia missed the front ends of three one-and-ones in overtime, and Heather Burge missed both shots on a two-shot foul.