Sun Devils Shine In Outdoor Venue

Dec. 27, 2000

PHOENIX (AP) - Tennessee proved to be just as successful playing outdoors asin.

On a cool, desert night, Tamika Catchings scored 24 points to lead the No.2-ranked Lady Vols to a 67-63 victory over Arizona State on Wednesday at BankOne Ballpark, the home of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tennessee (11-0) built a 14-point lead midway through the second half, thenheld off the Sun Devils (7-4) down the stretch to win what was believed to bethe first college basketball game played outdoors.

The court sat along the first base line and a curtain was stretched alongone side to try to create some intimacy in the 48,000-seat park. But it wasn'tenough to ward off the chill from temperatures in the mid-50s in a stadium thathas 8,000 tons of air conditioning but no heat.

Kristen Clement added 12 points for Tennessee and Michelle Snow grabbed 14rebounds. Amanda Levens led Arizona State with 21 points. Betsy Boardman andMelody Johnson each had 10.

The crowd of 16,282, wearing jackets, sweatshirts and some covered inblankets, easily topped Arizona State's previous record of 5,272 and the Pac-10record of 9,738 set at Oregon.

But it fell far short of the national record of 24,597 Tennessee drew for a1998 game with Connecticut.

Still, it was a festive occasion in an atmosphere that seemed more fittingfor football on a crisp, autumn night. Sparky, the Sun Devils' mascot, paradedback and forth on the roof of the first-base dugout. New age music played asthe stadium roof opened an hour before tipoff and the temperature insideimmediately cooled.

Space heaters behind the benches warmed the players, though evidently notenough. Tennessee players sat hunched over with their hands inside the sleevesof their warmups

When Clement reported to the scorers' table on one occasion, she was wearinga sweatshirt, her warmup and had a towel draped around her neck. Some ArizonaState reserves wore gloves.

Late in the first half, the officials stopped play so a spot on the floorcould be wiped off.

'It might be frost,' TV announcer Paul Sunderlund cracked.

Ahead just 33-31 early in the second half, Tennessee finished with a 15-3run with 11 straight points to finally break way. After the Lady Vols scoredthree straight baskets inside, Gwen Jackson hit a 3-pointer from the top of thekey and Clement scored on a putback to make it 48-34.

Arizona State answered with nine straight points to cut the lead to 48-43,and the Sun Devils trailed 51-45 when Amanda Levens sank two free throws aftertechnical foul on Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.

But Tennessee responded. Catchings hit a jumper, Semeka Randall sank twofree throws after stealing the ball and Catchings drove for a layup. That madeit 57-45 with 3:54 left and the Lady Vols held on.

Tennessee led 29-16 after Tasha Butts converted a three-point play with 5:47left in the first half. The Lady Vols then started getting sloppy, scoring onlyone more basket the rest of the half, and Arizona State clawed back.

Two free throws by Boardman and two straight baskets by Levens drew ArizonaState to 29-22. After Butts hit a follow shot at the 3:32 mark, Arizona Statescored the final five points of the half to cut the lead to 31-27.

The Sun Devils twice got to within two points early in the second half, butTennessee made the plays it needed to pull away.

AP Sports Writer

Now on Pac-12 Network
2:00 PM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network
Get Pac-12 Networks
Pac-12 Networks Channel Finder