Spartans stun Vols

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Michigan State's climb to national prominence took over Rocky Top.

The Spartans rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half - tying a Final Four record - to upset Tennessee 68-64 on Sunday night, setting up a title game with Baylor, another unlikely championship contender.

Trailing 45-29 with 16:02 left, Michigan State wouldn't quit and finally caught the Lady Vols at 62-62 on two free throws by Victoria Lucas-Perry with 1:20 left. Moments later, Michigan State point guard Kristin Haynie made a steal and layup to put the Big Ten champions ahead.

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Tennessee's Loree Moore then tied it with a runner in the lane, but Spartans senior center Kelli Roehrig scored underneath to make it 66-64 with 35 seconds to play.

The Lady Vols (30-5) then missed a 3-pointer and two inside shots before the ball dropped in the hands of Roehrig, who fed Lucas-Perry for a layup with 2.7 seconds left to complete the remarkable comeback.

Michigan State's rally tied the largest in Final Four history. In 2001, Notre Dame came back from 16 down to beat Connecticut.

As the final horn sounded the Spartans (33-3) danced and hugged in a circle.

''This team has the heart of a lion,'' Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said, her players bouncing and hugging with looks of disbelief on their faces. ''In the first half, we didn't quite play with all of that heart.''