Butts comes up big in the clutch to put Tennessee in the championship yet again

Despite missing a shot with seven seconds left and the game tied, Tasha Butts was huge.

Dan Miller

Seimone Augustus and Tasha Butts were both hot going into Sunday’s game. But Augustus cooled off and Butts and Tennessee found another way to survive.

Augustus scored 16 points, but Butts and the Volunteers held LSU’s leading scorer to 7-for-21 shooting from the field.

Butts and Tennessee have found their way into another NCAA championship game by the thinnest of threads.

“We played one of the ugliest games that we played all year and we still managed to win,” Butts said. “I think that says a lot about our team.”

Butts, again, was at the center of a close victory over LSU Sunday night.

Butts had 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in another brilliant effort for the Volunteers.

She has been one of the most clutch players in the NCAA Tournament, hitting game-winning shots in the Volunteers’ previous two games and putting them in their record 15th Final Four.

Butts hit two free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation to sink Baylor 71-69 in the Midwest Regional semifinal game, and she was the Volunteers’ savior again last Tuesday as she banked in an improbable game-winning layup with 1.7 second left for her 15th and 16th points of the night.

But it wasn’t her shot that once again put Tennessee into the championship game.

Her final shot actually came up short Sunday night. Butts misfired with seven seconds left in a tie game, but Tennessee caused a turnover and LaToya Davis scored as time expired to take the 52-50 win.

It was Butts’ defense that made the difference.

She held Augustus to only 21 percent from the field, and Augustus was the tournament’s leading point-scorer.

Augustus, who was named on Saturday to the Kodak All-America Team, has been dominant in the tournament.

She has scored 29 points in her last two games and has scored 20-plus points in six straight games.

“Their defense was aggressive as usual,” Augustus said. “They play aggressive defense, they get up in your jersey and do whatever they need to do to cause turnovers or alter your shot.”