Holdsclaw again sets pace for Tennessee Most Outstanding Player gets 25 points, 10 rebounds

March 30, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Last night was the same old story for Chamique Holdsclaw.

Once again, she was dominant, and once again it was her performance that was instrumental in Tennessee's 93-75 win over Louisiana Tech for the national title.

"I'm used to winning, so I'm not excited," Holdsclaw said. "I'm happy to win a championship for this team, but I've done it before, so I'm not going to be crying or anything like that."

Holdsclaw picked up her second consecutive Most Outstanding Player award for the tournament, scoring 25 points, taking down 10 rebounds and dishing out six assists.

She established herself as the primary -- though not lone -- force for the Volunteers, scoring eight points in the first six minutes of the first half as the team took an early double-digit lead.

"Holdsclaw is the Michael Jordan of the college game," said Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore. "She's certainly going to do what it takes."

It was the seventh straight title for Holdsclaw, a 6-foot-2 forward. She won four straight state championships at New York City's Christ the King High School, and now is 3-for-3 in college.

Holdsclaw finished her junior year seven points short of the NCAA tournament career scoring record of 388 held by former Tennessee star Bridgette Gordon. She scored in double figures for the 109th time in 114 career games, improving Tennessee's record with her to 100-14.

The player on the hot seat last night was Monica Maxwell of Louisiana Tech, charged with keeping watch of Holdsclaw.

In addition to the responsibility of guarding Holdsclaw, Maxwell found herself burdened by the fact that she was giving up 3 inches to the Tennessee star.

Though she had experienced success Friday in holding down another talented small forward in North Carolina State's Tynesha Lewis, this was a totally different experience.

"She's a player who's extremely hard to guard," Maxwell said of Holdsclaw. "She can shoot, she can drive, she can pull up. I was going to go down fighting, wasn't going to let Chamique take over the game."

Afterward, Maxwell said her plan was to do her best and prevent Holdsclaw from scoring off offensive rebounds.

But that must have seemed tough when Holdsclaw was knocking down fadeaway jump shots, as she did twice in a 30-second span to give Tennessee a 19-6 lead with 14: 34 left in the first half.

"She can elevate," Maxwell said. "She was bigger than me by 2 or 3 inches as it is, and her jumping ability makes it hard to contest her shots. Plus, you can't key on her or Tamika Catchings."

Holdsclaw's performance again raised the question of whether she should turn pro.

"It's finished," Holdsclaw said of any speculation concerning her departure. "It's final."

Pub Date: 3/30/98

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