DePaul Blue Demons Face Top-Seeded LSU

No. 4 Seed DePaul Blue Demons Take on the No. 1 Seed LSU Tigers on Saturday at 11 a.m. Central Standard Time.

2006 NCAA Championship Regional Semifinal - San Antonio Regional

No. 4 DePaul (27-6) vs. No. 1 LSU (29-3)

AT&T Center - San Antonio, Texas

Mar. 25, 2006 - 11 a.m. - ESPN


SAN ANTONIO - As long as LSU continues to rely on Seimone Augustus, the top-seeded Tigers have a chance to win the national championship that has eluded them the previous two years.

The Tigers (29-3) look to advance to their fourth straight regional final when they play fourth-seeded DePaul (27-6) on Saturday in a round of 16 matchup at San Antonio.

LSU made Final Four appearances the last two seasons, but came up short of the national championship both times, losing in the semifinals despite the presence of Augustus, the 2005 national player of the year.

The Tigers, who also reached a regional final in 2003, are in the regional semifinals for the seventh time in nine seasons. Augustus has helped LSU overcome sluggish starts to win its first two tournament games.

Against Florida Atlantic in the first round, Augustus scored 22 points in 27 minutes and helped spur a 20-0 run to put LSU up by 22 points at halftime. She performed similarly against Washington in the second round, scoring 26 points and leading LSU back from a 26-23 deficit at halftime.

The Tigers broke open the game against the Huskies with a 27-6 run midway through the second half and won 72-49.

"This is another eye opener for us, and I expect that our level of play will increase and it will pick up as we get into San Antonio," said Augustus, one of four finalists for the 2006 player of the year award.

"We weren't energized, we didn't have any energy. Our offense wasn't clicking the way it should have been, and our defense wasn't the best. It was just the time that we needed to pick it up, especially in the second half."

Center Sylvia Fowles, who averages 16.4 points and 11.2 rebounds, played only two minutes in the first half due to foul trouble and had all of her 10 points and seven rebounds in the second half.

"We showed a lot of heart and a lot of guts just to keep fighting through the difficult times that we had when Sylvia was out and our offense was struggling," Augustus said. "Just to be within 3 going into half says a lot about us and our character."

Augustus has 129 career double-figure scoring games, tied with Baylor's Sophia Young -- who is still playing in the tournament -- for the most in NCAA history.

DePaul rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat 12th-seeded Tulsa 71-67 in the second round and advance to the regional semifinals for the first time in school history.

"It means a lot because we've done a lot of good things this year and in previous years," said Khara Smith, whose 3-point play with 53.8 seconds left gave DePaul the lead for good.

"We've had some really good teams here, but we haven't been able to get past this game in the round of 32. It just means a lot."

The Blue Demons had lost in the second round in five of their previous 10 trips to the NCAA tournament.

Smith had 23 points and 14 rebounds while Jenna Rubino added 17 points for DePaul, which scored the final 10 points of the game.

With one more victory, the Blue Demons will surpass the 1987-88 club for the winningest season in school history.

This is the first meeting between the teams. The winner faces No. 2 Oklahoma or No. 3 Stanford in the regional final on Monday.

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