LSU in Final Four....
LSULSU is Final Four bound
March 29, 2005
LSUÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Temeka Johnson (left) drives the baseline around DukeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Wanisha Smith during the Lady TigersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ 59-49 victory over Duke on Monday night. With the win, LSU captured its second straight appearance in the NCAA WomenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Final Four. (AP) By Glenn Guilbeau
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- LSU finally got a test in the NCAA Women's Tournament on Monday.
In fact, the Lady Tigers had to come back from a 12-point deficit in the first half and had to duke it out for nearly 40 minutes before finally outlasting Duke for a 59-49 victory in the Chattanooga Regional final to reach their second consecutive Final Four.
No. 1 overall seed LSU (33-2) will play No. 2 seed Baylor (31-3) Sunday in Indianapolis.
"We've got some unfinished business," said LSU coach Pokey Chatman, whose team lost in the national semifinals to Tennessee by two points in last year's Final Four.
The victory over Duke was workmanlike to say the least.
"It wasn't a 3 game," Chatman said. "There were not a lot of clips on the highlight reel."
Instead there were bodies falling everywhere in a defensive standoff. Unlike LSU's first three victories in the tournament, which each came by 30 points or more, this was no run around the track.
A rebound and layup by Duke center Chante Black put the Blue Devils (31-5) within 47-44 with 4:02 to play. LSU pulled away and took a 53-44 lead with 1:29 to go on a strong drive and dish by forward Wendlyn Jones to center Sylvia Fowles for a layup. But Duke freshman Wanisha Smith canned a 3-pointer with 1:17 to play, clawing the Blue Devils within 53-47.
The Lady Tigers finally put it away on the foul line to chants of "Final Four "ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â» Final Four!" in front of 5,086 at McKenzie Arena.
"I think a game like this will help us," said All-American guard Seimone Augustus, who led LSU with 24 points. "We know we can play in the clutch situations now. We finished the game, which we didn't do in the Tennessee game."
Augustus was referring to LSU's 67-65 loss to UT in the Southeastern Conference Tournament final on March 6, but she could have been talking about the Lady Tigers' 52-50 loss to UT in the Final Four last season that came on a last-second turnover.
"We kept our composure tonight," said Augustus, who hit four free throws over the last 28 seconds. "This is a big confidence booster for our team."
Fowles added 13 points with 11 rebounds -- her highest totals in those categories in eight games -- and picked up the slack for point guard Temeka Johnson, who committed a season-high seven turnovers.
Johnson was at her worst in the first half as she repeatedly looked like LSU men's guard Tack Minor at his worst. She had five turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the first half as Duke built a 24-12 lead with 8:15 to go before half. It was the largest deficit LSU faced all season. Other than a 10-point lead Alabama took in the SEC Tournament, LSU had not been down by more than five all season.
"It was the most frustrated I've been in a long time," said Johnson, who constantly yelled at teammates to rotate. "Duke really wasn't doing anything defensively. We were standing around. We weren't moving. We were falling into their traps by us not reversing the ball and allowing their post people to stay where they were."
LSU recovered to make an 18-6 run over the final eight minutes of the first half to force a 30-30 tie.
"I was sorry to see halftime come," Chatman said.
The Lady Tigers started playing defense with a vengeance in the second half and held the Blue Devils to seven points through the first 12 minutes and built a 43-37 lead in very physical fashion. After being body blocked to the floor by LSU's RaShonta LeBlanc, Duke All-American guard Monique Currie hit two free throws to cut it to 43-39 with 7:33 to play.
Augustus came right back to hit a running one-hander for a 45-39 lead with 7:26 left. Johnson - passing crisply now - bounced a short pass to Augustus, who popped another jumper for a 47-40 advantage. Johnson later drove the lane and scooped in a layup for a 51-44 lead with 2:02 to go.
"I thought we were in great position," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "We had the tempo that we wanted. Then their All-Americans decided they were going to take over the game."
It was Fowles, though, who put a stop to Duke's first half dominance Mistie Williams led Duke with 15 points, but 13 of those came in the first half. LSU guard Scholanda Hoston held Currie to 11 - six below her average - on 4-of-18 shooting.
Fowles, who often knocked over Duke's post players, scored seven points with three steals and a block down the stretch of the first half as LSU erased the 12-point lead and forced the 30-30 tie. In the second half, the inside was virtually completely closed to Duke, and LSU won the rebounding war 42-27 after a 14-14 tie at the half.
"We couldn't rebound," Goestenkors said. "We needed to nail some outside shots to bring them out, but they kept shrinking the defense. The incredible shrinking defense. There was nothing available for us inside."
There's no room at the Final Four for Duke either.
LSU in Final Four....
yeah, well they lost a winable game.... very disappointing end to an otherwise great year.... i guess they thought they were already in the championship game, but they were very mistaken...
LSU in Final Four....
Didn\'t see the game, but i heard they had some bad calls!
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