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Swoopes' record 47 points power Texas Tech to title


ATLANTA -- Sheryl Swoopes got to make her mark on women's college basketball for only a brief period, but while it lasted, it was beautiful.

Yesterday, Swoopes led No. 5 Texas Tech to a national championship, as it beat third-ranked Ohio State, 84-82, in front of 16,141 at The Omni.

Swoopes scored 47 points, a record for an NCAA championship game -- men's or women's -- and put on perhaps the most electrifying performance in the 12-year history of the women's tournament.

"At a point in the game, I just felt I wanted to take control," said Swoopes, a 6-foot senior forward from Brownfield, Texas. "I felt like I wanted to score every time I got the ball."

She nearly did, hitting a championship-game-record 16 field goals, as well as all 11 of her free throws, smashing 10 tournament records in the process.

"There are no words to explain how great a player Sheryl Swoopes is," said Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp. "We're just pleased that she got to show the whole nation what a player she is."

Swoopes, the national Player of the Year, confused and confounded the Buckeyes (28-4), who, in their man-to-man sets, used five different players to guard her, to no avail.

"You don't really appreciate Sheryl Swoopes until you have to stop her," said Ohio State coach Nancy Darsch. "She hurt us, not just by the scoring. I saw us get a little down, a little dejected when she scored some tough shots against us. She attacked our heart."

The Buckeyes, the co-Big Ten titlists, did about what they wanted to do defensively against Swoopes -- made her work hard for her shots, didn't give up layups and attacked her in their matchup zone.

And while each of the five Buckeyes to defend Swoopes -- from guards to counter her quickness to forwards and post players to muscle her around -- had their limited successes, no one could consistently shut her down.

Nikki Keyton, a senior forward who drew Swoopes in the second half, said: "She was difficult to contain. We didn't think we were going to stop her but rather keep her to average [27.5 points] or below. She does so many things well. You can't put a post on her because she's so quick. If you put a wing on her, she'll just post you up."

Swoopes, who had five straight 30-plus NCAA tournament games, as well as 53 points in the Southwest Conference tournament final, had obliterated the women's championship game record of 28 points with 13:42 left in the game, then went after Bill Walton's 44-point mark, set in 1973 in UCLA's win over Memphis State.

She got it with 58.1 seconds left on a play in which her teammates cleared the middle of the floor and let her operate. Swoopes hit the layup and was fouled.

The resulting free throw gave the Red Raiders (31-3) an 80-73 lead and nailed down the Lubbock school's first national team championship in any sport.

Sharp said: "Obviously, it's the greatest feeling any of us have had in our athletic careers. I think that this group of kids has been really special for a lot of reasons. Obviously, we had a great player."

But as in Texas Tech's 60-46 win over top-ranked Vanderbilt, Swoopes did have a little help from her friends.

Senior forward Krista Kirkland had 14 points and five assists, doing a great job of getting the ball to Swoopes in excellent position to score.

"It [Swoopes' presence] has made us incredible players," said Kirkland. "You don't have to do a lot to get her the ball. My assist totals have shot up since she's been here. I feel very fortunate to have played with her."

Swoopes' bravura performance overshadowed that of Ohio State freshman phenom Katie Smith, who had 28 points and 11 rebounds.

Smith, who had 20 points in the second half, and Keyton, who had 19 points for the game, led the Buckeyes back on a 19-8 second-half run that made up a 10-point deficit and gave Ohio State a one-point lead with 9:16 remaining.

From there, however, Swoopes seized the moment, scoring 12 of her team's next 21 points, putting the game away, though Ohio State guard Audrey Burcy hit two three-pointers in the last 11 seconds to make the score close.

Afterward, the once and perhaps future dominant players sized up each other.

"I'll never be like her, a real total scorer," Smith said. "I've learned a lot this year, about myself and what it takes to win."

Swoopes was a little less generous.

"She [Smith] an excellent player, but there's a lot of things she's going to have to work on," said Swoopes. "She's going to have to mature in order to get back to the Final Four."

Swooping it up

NCAA records set by Texas Tech's Sheryl Swoopes (old records in parentheses):


Points -- 177 (134, Bridgette Gordon, Tennessee, 1989).

Field goals -- 56 (53, Gordon, 1989).

Free throws -- 57 (41, Carolyn Jones, Auburn, 1990).

FINAL FOUR Points -- 78 (56, Clarissa Davis, Texas, 1986).

Field goals -- 27 (22, Gordon, 1989).

Field goal attempts -- 48 (42, Gordon, 1989).

Free throws made (tied) -- 19 (Jones, 1990).

@CHAMPIONSHIP GAME Points -- 47 (28, Dena Head, Tennessee, 1991, and Dawn Staley, Virginia, 1991).

Points in half -- 24 (18, Head, Staley and Cynthia Cooper, Southern Cal, 1986).

Field goals -- 16 (12, Erica Westbrooks, Louisiana Tech, 1988).

x-Free throw percentage (tied) -- 11-11, 100 percent (Mary Ostrowski, Tennessee, 1984, and Julie Zeilstra, Stanford, 1990.

Player must make at least five free throws to be considered for the record.

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