Georgia Stuns No. 1 Tennessee Women
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Janese Hardrick made a driving layup with nine-tenths of a second left in overtime, and No. 20 Georgia stunned top-ranked Tennessee 68-66 Saturday night to advance to the Southeastern Conference tournament championship.
The Lady Vols (26-3) never trailed in overtime until Alexis Kendrick hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to put Georgia ahead 66-63.
Tennessee responded with a 3-pointer by Brittany Jackson. But Hardrick drove straight to the basket when the Lady Bulldogs (22-8) got the ball back.
Kendrick finished with 16 points. Ebony Felder and Christi Thomas had 12 apiece and Cori Chambers 10. Thomas also had 11 rebounds.
Shyra Ely led Tennessee with 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Tasha Butts added 17 points.
Hardrick, who had to leave the game after falling hard while being fouled, returned to take a charge and finished with nine points.
Georgia is back in the title game for the first time since 2001, when the Bulldogs won their fourth tournament crown. Georgia is trying to become the second team to take the tournament by winning four games. Auburn did it in 1997.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs play the winner of the late semifinal between 15th-ranked LSU and No. 21 Vanderbilt.
Tennessee did everything it could to try to win, but the Lady Vols could never pull far enough away.
Tennessee, which won its seventh straight SEC regular-season title after going 14-0 in league play, failed to reach the championship game for the third time in the last four years.
The Lady Bulldogs were ahead by five with 8:11 left when Tennessee tied it at 50 after Ely had a basket and three-point play.
Georgia scored the next five points to go ahead again with 1:56 remaining.
Ely scored and Butts made the first of two free throws to cut it to 55-53 and set up a frenetic ending.
Ely hit a baseline jumper to tie it at 55, and Kendrick made an difficult jumper at the other end to put Georgia ahead with 6.1 seconds to go.
Butts forced overtime when she made a leaner in the lane with six-tenths of a second left to make it 57-57.
Butts made six straight free throws to score all of Tennessee's points in overtime until Jackson's 3.
Butts' last pair of free throws put the Lady Vols ahead 63-59 with 1:57 left in overtime. But at the other end, she fouled Felder, who sank both free throws.
Then Sherill Baker stole the ball from Butts on the inbounds, turned around and tossed it into the basket to tie it at 63, setting up the exciting ending.