Couldn't Be Denied

By Jeff Lippman - April 01, 2008

Candace Parker carried Tennessee on her shoulders all night - even after dislocating one.

Tennessee couldn't shake Texas A&M. More of a struggle than they could have hoped - Candace Parker dislocated her shoulder in the process - the Lady Vols couldn't be denied a return trip to the Final Four.

Playing in her last Elite Eight game Parker torched the Aggies for 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including one stretch in the first half where she scored 16 straight points for her team.

She injured her left shoulder with 18 points and proceeded to miss her first two shots following the injury, wincing each time. But like great champions do, she bottled up her pain and pushed on and will her team to Tampa.

Texas A&M gave it a valiant effort and fought neck-and-neck with the Vols for the duration of the evening. A&M didn't shoot well, however. The Aggies only connected on 31.5 percent and Takia Starks led them with 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

Things got dicey for Pat Summitt's crew late in the second half after Parker's injury. The Lady Vols found themselves down 40-37 with seven minutes remaining in the game and Parker wincing every time she lifted her arm over her shoulders.

But the defense buckled down and Parker showed once again why she's the best women's basketball player on the planet.

She scored seven of Tennessee's next 10 points and hit free throw after free throw trying not to show the pain she was battling the entire time.

A&M wilted to Tennessee's pressure defense and only scored three points over the game's final six minutes.

The Lady Vols reach their 18th Final Four, a ridiculous number. It was scary for a time, but in the end, the Lady Vols are going to Florida.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 09:02 PM on April 01, 2008

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