NASHVILLE - Alberta Auguste launched the basketball and it touched neither net nor rim.
The Tennessee senior guard couldn't have been more satisfied.
Auguste's joyous heave high into the air punctuated UT's 61-55 comeback victory over LSU on Sunday night in the SEC women's basketball tournament final.
"I was happy, happy, happy," she said. "That's what we all wanted, from the coaches to the players who weren't playing, an SEC championship."
At the end of a grueling seesaw struggle, the second-seeded Lady Vols (30-2) summoned a finishing kick across the final three minutes, outscoring the regular-season champions 10-1 before a crowd of 12,392 at the Sommet Center.
Point guard Shannon Bobbitt, who scored 12 points, started the comeback by coming around a Nicky Anosike screen and nailing a 3-pointer to wipe out a 54-51 deficit. Bobbitt made the all-tournament team.
"I was jumping up and down before she released it,'' Auguste said. "That's Shannon's shot."
Then Candace Parker, who scored a game-high 28 points, saved a broken play and possibly UT's tournament fortunes, with a wing jumper. The basket barely beat the expiring shot clock and gave the Lady Vols a 56-54 advantage - a lead they never relinquished.
Parker added two free throws with 45 seconds left. Freshman Vicki Baugh's two free throws with 17 seconds left were the clinchers.
For her impressive efforts, Parker was voted the tournament's most valuable player.
"This tournament was about pride and respect,'' said Parker, who surpassed 2,000 career points. "It was about taking a share of the SEC. If (LSU) had come in here and swept, it would've been an embarrassment to me."
Tennessee's tournament championship secured an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament. A No. 1 seed likely will come with it.
Sylvia Fowles led LSU (27-5) with 19 points. Quianna Chaney scored 13. Both players made the all-tournament team. Both players also missed shots in the final minute.
"I look at my teammates and I look at the stats sheet and I don't see any difference in the stats sheet too much,'' LSU point guard Erica White said. "The only thing I can think of, they had to have wanted it more than us. Maybe they prayed more last night. I don't know."
Tennessee changed its starting lineup, replacing freshman Angie Bjorklund with Auguste. The switch rewarded Auguste's energetic play in the first two tournament games and also had something to do with Bjorklund's two points in two games.
The Lady Vols also started out determined to make amends for their 78-62 loss to LSU in Knoxville Feb. 14. UT had a 22-14 lead when a pivotal play went its way with 8:12 left in the first half. Parker went up for a close-range shot and Fowles went up for a block. The result was Fowles' second foul.
Fowles recoiled in dismay and the LSU bench erupted. During a subsequent timeout, Lady Tigers coach Van Chancellor stood with arms folded, staring at the game officials huddled on the far sideline.
"I thought we might make some hay there,'' UT assistant coach Dean Lockwood said, "but we were plagued by a scoring drought."
Although the 6-foot-6 Fowles - the SEC's defensive player of the year - stayed in the game, the Lady Vols' offensive funk was largely of their own making. They went more than five minutes without a point.
Anosike committed back-to-back turnovers with errant entry passes before missing an ill-advised jumper. The Lady Vols came out of a timeout seemingly unaware of having only five seconds on the shot clock and were left with Alexis Hornbuckle heaving the ball at the backboard.
Rather than build on their lead, the Lady Vols were barely hanging on to a 25-22 advantage at halftime. Their defense saved them and that was just a start.
"I thought our defense was about as strong as it's been all season long,'' UT coach Pat Summitt said.
The second half featured three ties and 14 lead changes. Tennessee led by as many as seven points early in the half and trailed by as many as four with 12:20 left.
The Lady Vols saved their clutch work for last.
Said Lockwood: "When this team gets in a situation where they feel the wall at their backs, they respond."
Notebook: Referee Joe Cunningham suffered a calf injury in the first half and was replaced by Mary Day. … Total attendance for the tournament was a record 51,036.