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Women: Stanford's Powell can reach two goals

She has waited to beat Vols, be in Final Four.

Wire services
Published March 30, 2004

NORMAN, Okla. - In one game, All-American Nicole Powell has the chance to achieve two goals she has held for years - beating Tennessee and getting to the Final Four.

The Stanford star has wanted to beat the Vols since she was a girl.

She'll get her opportunity tonight when sixth-seeded Stanford (27-6) takes on the top-seeded Vols (29-3) in the region final.

"They have a good program, and they have so much history," Powell said. "They are the ultimate powerhouse, and you can join them or you can beat them."

Powell is a three-time Naismith Award finalist and a two-time Pac-10 player of the year. She ranks in the top four in career points, rebounds, assists, 3-pointers and free throws at Stanford, a program with some impressive history of its own. Stanford has put 18 players in the WNBA.

With six career triple doubles, she's the only player in Pac-10 history to accomplish the feat more than once. But she's never beaten Tennessee, although she came close this season.

She had 32 points and 16 rebounds in the Cardinal's 70-66 overtime loss to Tennessee on Dec. 14 at Maples Pavilion. She missed her final 10 field-goal attempts, including shots that would have won the game in regulation and tied it with 11 seconds left in overtime.

"I think in the end she could just as easily have made a couple of shots," said Vols coach Pat Summitt, who was named Naismith coach of the year Monday.

A win would lift Stanford to its first Final Four since its string of three straight was broken with a loss to 16th seed Harvard in 1998.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said Powell doesn't need to reach the Final Four to validate her greatness.

"In the locker room yesterday, she was hugging people with a fierceness," VanDerveer said. "This is not as far as she wants to go, but she doesn't have to hang her head."

Summitt said Powell ranks among the best, even without playing in a Final Four.

"I think, regardless, people in this game recognize the great players," Summitt said. "Certainly, Nicole, she's on a very short list of the best in this class."

Summitt said Powell has a great professional career ahead of her. She said she was glad Tennessee played Stanford in the regular season.

"I'd hate to think this was our first look at Nicole Powell," Summitt said.

Tennessee advanced to the region final by beating Baylor with two free throws by Tasha Butts after officials put 0.2 seconds back on the clock and called a foul against the Bears' Jessika Stratton.

Baylor on Monday said it planned to request a review of the game's finish.

Summitt said she didn't think the win was tainted and didn't think the ending would have any impact on her players.

The Cardinal also advanced on Sunday by making a game-winning shot with less than a second left. Stanford's Kelley Suminski hit the 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left that beat Vanderbilt 57-55.

Suminski said she was so wound up after the game, she didn't fall asleep until 4 a.m.

"I'm exhausted right now," Suminski said.

The Stanford-Tennessee winner plays LSU.

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