Tennessee Moments of the Decade #5: Lady Vols' Back-to-Back National Championships

It's unfair, really, that a team wins consecutive national championships and it barely cracks the top five sports moments of the decade.  Part of it is simply the gravity of the four moments that come next on our countdown.  But part of it too is that we're used to it.  The Lady Vols' two titles in 2007 and 2008 gave them eight national championships in a twenty-one year span, and padded Pat Summitt's already impressive stat sheet, and her case as one of the greatest coaches, in any sport, of all-time.

The Ladies were close in the first half of the decade, making five Final Fours from 2000-2005, but getting knocked out each time, including four losses to UConn.  After losing in the Elite Eight in 2006, the Ladies would embark on an incredible two year run.

A 13 point loss to North Carolina in December raised some eyebrows at the start of the 06-07 season, but a win at UConn proved this team was capable of greatness.  The Lady Vols would lose only once more in the regular season at Duke, winning the SEC regular season title with a perfect record.  But they would be upset in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament by an LSU program that also had a very strong decade.

The Lady Vols ripped through the first four games of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, winning by 39 over Drake, 14 over Pittsburgh, 9 over Marist and a dominant 36 over Ole Miss to make the Final Four.  In the national semifinals, they faced the North Carolina team that had beaten them in December in a battle of number one seeds. 

It looked like it would be another empty trip to the Final Four, as North Carolina built a 48-36 lead with 8:16 to play.  But the Lady Vols locked down on Carolina and closed the game on an incredible 20-2 run - the Tar Heels turned the ball over six times in seven possessions at one point, made no field goals, and Candace Parker made a key steal and two free throws to put the Ladies in front for good.

The championship game against Rutgers would later be defined by what Don Imus said about it, but behind Candace Parker's 17 points and Nicky Anosike's 16 rebounds, the Lady Vols won 59-46 and captured their first title in ten years.

With the majority of the team back the following year, the Lady Vols lost only two games, and avenged them both.  Stanford beat the Ladies in overtime, and LSU put a surprise 78-62 thumping on them in Knoxville.  First, the Lady Vols beat LSU in the SEC Tournament Finals.  The two teams would meet again in the Final Four - LSU hit two free throws to take a 46-45 lead with 7 seconds to play, but Alexis Hornbuckle's put back of an Anosike miss with 0.7 seconds left gave the Lady Vols the 47-46 win in a dramatic finish.

In the title game, Candace Parker scored 17 and the Lady Vols got revenge on Stanford with a 64-48 victory to win their second straight title.  All of the major contributors from this run - Sidney Spencer, Candace Parker, Alexis Hornbuckle, Shannon Bobbitt, Nicky Anosike, and Alberta Auguste - were taken in the WNBA Draft.

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