March 25, 2007
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – Quianna Chaney scored eight of her 22 points during a 10-0 run to open the second half, and third-seeded LSU moved into the Fresno Regional final with a 55-43 victory over 10th-seeded Florida State on Saturday night.
The Lady Tigers (29-7) have the stingiest defense in the nation, allowing fewer than 50 points per game. And they were at the top of their game against the overmatched Seminoles (24-10).
Florida State was held to a season-low 18 points in the first half and then went nearly 5 minutes at the start of the second half without scoring, falling behind 37-18 on Chaney’s fastbreak layup. She also hit two of her four 3-pointers in the run, finishing 9-for-16 from the field.
The Lady Tigers coasted from there and advanced to play top-seeded Connecticut (32-3) in Monday night’s regional final. The Huskies beat fourth-seeded North Carolina State 78-71 in the opening game.
Earlier this season, UConn snapped LSU’s 43-game home winning streak with a 72-71 victory Feb. 11.
Acting coach Bob Starkey, who took over the team after Pokey Chatman abruptly resigned March 7 amid allegations of improper conduct with a former player, has the Lady Tigers within one win of their fourth straight trip to the Final Four.
Star center Sylvia Fowles had 20 points, nine rebounds and anchored LSU’s defense. The only thing Fowles didn’t do well was shoot free throws, going just 6-for-13. But that’s fitting since Starkey compares her to a player he used to coach on LSU’s men’s team: Shaquille O’Neal.
Jacinta Monroe scored 15 points and Alicia Gladden added 12 for the Seminoles, who had never made it past the second round of the NCAA tournament before shocking second-seeded Stanford 68-61 on the Cardinal’s home floor Monday night.
Florida State was trying to join Lamar as the only double-digit seeds to make it to the regional final. Lamar did it as a No. 10 seed in 1991.
The Seminoles shot just 35 percent for the game, turned the ball over 21 times and scored their fewest points of the season. Fowles, the leading shot blocker in LSU history, had only three but altered many other shots.
The game was played in front of a mostly empty arena as few fans from the four schools from the eastern half of the country made the long trip to California. When Florida State knocked off Stanford, there was no local team in the regional.
Florida State couldn’t solve LSU’s stingy defense with Fowles patrolling the middle. The Seminoles hit their first shot of the game, then missed 18 of their next 21 – going nearly 11 minutes without a basket at one point.
Chaney hit consecutive 3-pointers to start a 13-2 run that gave the Lady Tigers a 20-8 lead with 8 minutes left in the half. But LSU then went nearly 6 minutes without scoring, with Fowles missing three free throws in that span.
Allison Hightower made a pair of baskets in the final 2 minutes to put the Lady Tigers up 27-18 at the break.