CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Tennessee and Virginia women's basketball teams are loaded with seniors steeped in big-game and tournament experience. But to advance to the NCAA tournament's East Regional final, the fourth-ranked Lady Vols and the No. 11 Cavaliers needed the brashness of youth.
Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw had 16 points to fuel a 92-71 win over No. 20 Kansas, and Virginia's DeMya Walker had 14 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and four blocks to push the Cavaliers past sixth-ranked Old Dominion, 72-60, at University Hall yesterday before 7,860.
Tennessee, the region's top seed, and third-seeded Virginia will meet tomorrow for a berth in Friday's Final Four in Charlotte, N.C.
Holdsclaw, a 6-foot-2 forward from Astoria, N.Y. last year's National High School Player of the Year got the Lady Vols out of the blocks with 15 points in the first half in her first extended action since she suffered a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in her right knee in Tennessee's win over Alabama in the Southeastern Conference tournament final.
"I felt 100 percent out there on offense. I think I could have penetrated a little more to open things up for my teammates, but otherwise I felt really good," said Holdsclaw.
Said Kansas forward Charisse Sampson: "She's a great player. She's got that baseline jumper down pat. I did the best I could. I tried to get a hand up, but she still happened to make them."
The Lady Vols, who shot 65 percent from the floor in the first half, were never seriously challenged by fourth-seeded Kansas (22-10) after the second television timeout of the half, when they stretched an eight-point lead into a 15-point one, thanks to Holdsclaw and senior guard Latina Davis, who had 18 points for the game.
"They make my job a lot easier. They finish their shots. They create," said point guard Michelle Marciniak. "At the start of the -- game, they both hit jumpers, and that settled us down a lot."
The Lady Vols, who lost in the NCAA title game last April to Connecticut, weren't expected to contend for a championship this year, after heavy graduation losses, but are in position to earn their second straight Final Four berth.
"We did not finish up the game the way we would like, but at any rate, we are in the position we want to be, and we're going to need a lot of emotion and energy for a regional championship," Tennessee coach Pat Summit said.
In the second game, Walker, who has played erratically throughout the year, was sharp when she needed to be, helping the Cavaliers (26-6) hold off the second-seeded Lady Monarchs (29-3).
Walker, a 6-2 forward from Mount Holly, N.J., played the last eight minutes with four fouls and contributed clutch rebounding and two key jumpers to help the Cavaliers, who erased nine- and 10-point deficits, keep the lead.
Afterward, Walker, who was named to the the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman team, said she had been getting a lot of advice from many sources.
"[Teammate] Jenny [Boucek] told me to go out and play my game. My mom told me I had to play hard and I had to listen to her because she's done so much for me. It was a mixture of a lot of people talking to me," said Walker.
Walker also drew on the help of her perimeter teammates, Boucek and point guard Tora Suber. Suber, a 5-7 junior, had 26 points 15 in the first half when the rest of the Virginia offense was stagnant, and nine in the game's closing three minutes.
Boucek, a 5-8 senior, drew the thankless assignment of guarding Old Dominion's heralded Ticha Penicheiro, a 5-11 junior point guard.
Boucek hounded and pressured the Portuguese native and Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year into a five-point day. And although Penicheiro had seven assists and seven rebounds, she was forced out of her rhythm by Boucek.
"Jenny did a good job. But I don't think my game was at its best, and the two things connected," said Penicheiro. Said Boucek: "From the time I saw the brackets, I knew I wanted to guard her. I wasn't trying to shut her down, but I wanted her to know I was there if I could."
Pub Date: 3/24/96