Texas too much for Lady Tigers

STANFORD, Calif. -- Like a buzzsaw, the Texas Longhorns cut through the hearts of Lady Tiger fans all over the country Tuesday night, as they dismantled LSU in impressive fashion, 78-60.<br><br>The Longhorns, following the lead of the men's team at Texas, advance to the Final Four of the women's NCAA Tournament with the win.

But the final score between border rivals LSU and Texas did not reflect the extent of domination displayed in this matchup between the West region's No. 1 seed from the Southeastern Conference and the No. 2 seed from the Big 12.

Texas might have been a team you would expect to hurt the Lady Tigers from the outside, entering these regional finals as the third-best team in the country in three-point percentage. But the Longhorns started the game missing their first six shots from behind the arc and hit just one of nine in the first half and two of 13 in the game.

Moreover, LSU got exactly what it wanted as they started out the game red hot from the field. They hit five of their first seven shots in building a quick 11-4 lead.

It was the polar opposite of the Lady Tigers' start against Louisiana Tech in the regional semifinal Sunday. But continuing the theme of role reversal, it was the Lady Tigers who this time were on the wrong end of a torrential run as Texas blasted for 18 unanswered points.

The bleeding was stopped by a Ke-Ke Tardy lay-up, but the Horns found easy shot after easy shot in the paint. They finished the half on a 37-11 tear, scoring at will with a whopping 20 points in the paint.

"For whatever reason, I never would have thought that we would have competed like this," said LSU head coach Sue Gunter. "I thought [Texas] seemed to want the game a little better, and they worked harder. I do not know any area that they did not out-work us.

"That is unlike our team… I thought we would do a better job on the inside, but we just did not fight as hard and didn't war down in the trenches like we usually do."

LSU freshman Siemone Augustus was the hero against Louisiana Tech, but could not provide the lift for her team in the second half this night. The offense was largely placed in the hands of LSU's seniors in the second half, with Augustus taking shots when she could.

But it was an unspectacular game to close out her spectacular freshman season, in which she was widely regarded as the top frosh in the country. Augustus finished with just eight points on 4-of-11 shooting, snapping her 10-game streak scoring in double figures.

If LSU fans were expecting magic to repeat itself in the second half of this game, they were disappointed before the clock started rolling. A three-point field goal by Texas' Heather Schreiber from the first half had been accidentally scored as a deuce, producing the 18-point deficit. But that was corrected during halftime, and the gap widened before the Lady Tigers' very eyes.

It was to be a sign of things to come, as so many things would go wrong and too few go right.

The lead would waver between 16 and 21 points through the first five minutes of the second stanza, as the teams traded punches. On a positive note, LSU got to the free throw line for two trips in the opening minutes, after attempting just a single shot from the charity stripe in the first 20 minutes.

But then the Texas defense clamped down, and the Lady Tigers went scoreless for a stretch of more than 4 ½ minutes. Sue Gunter watched helplessly as a 16-point margin, clearly within the psychological reach of her club after their cardiac comeback two days earlier, swelled to a 27-point deficit. That gap held steady in the high 20's and even touched 30 points for the next five minutes.

During that time, Gunter pulled out all the stops. She placed 6-foot-5 sophomore center Crystal White into the game, in a futile effort to stop the pounding in the paint her Lady Tigers were receiving. That experiment lasted all of one minute, when White was returned to the bench.

Next up was a smaller lineup, with both of her veteran point guards on the floor at the same time. Fifth-year senior Kisha James played alongside junior Tameka Johnson, which allowed LSU to try a desperate dose of full-court trapping pressure.

It worked, to an extent. The 30-point lead was filed down to 18 with just under four minutes in the game as LSU made a frantic 18-6 run. The tool of choice was the three-point bomb, with a trio of treys from Doneeka Hodges (two) and James (one).

But it was too little, too late for a team that faced a hole deeper than it's proverbial ladder.

"Texas was a good team, and you can't get yourself in a whole every game and expect to come back every time," said Tameeka Johnson.

Much has been made about the longstanding camaraderie and longstanding relationship between Gunter and Texas head coach Jody Conradt, and that didn't change after the game. Gunter only had the most glowing of comments and most sincere of well-wishes to the Longhorns.

"Coach (Gino) Auriemma (Connecticut head coach) isn't the only one who has gone undefeated and won a national championship," Gunter pointed out to the media afterward. "Jody has done that, too."

And as elated as Conradt was for the win and the achievements of her team, she showed genuine remorse for her friend in the loss.

"I feel bad for Sue because I knew how much it would have meant for her, and her senior-laden team," the UT coach admitted.

Gunter also had a pile of praise to heap upon her group of seniors, who provided the toil and tears that built LSU to its current preeminence.

"I am just very, very proud of this basketball team and to my seniors – they have had as good of a career as anyone going through our program," Gunter beamed. "It is really gut-wrenching. It is tough to get this close, but that is part of what we do. This has been a banner year in LSU women's basketball, and these young ladies distinguished themselves.

"I could not be prouder of them. I thought they were good enough, and still do, to go all the way. But tonight Texas was better."

Senior Aiysha Smith stood tall as the sole representative of the Lady Tigers on the West Regional All-Tournament Team. She led her team in scoring at countered Louisiana Tech's big bodies with 19 points on Sunday, and followed up with 12 points in this game.

Texas placed three players on the team, including Schreiber (MVP – career high 32 points vs LSU), Stacey Stephens and Jamie Carey. Carey was of course a fan favorite reaching back to her earlier playing days at Maples Pavilion in a cardinal and white uniform, and much was made in the media the last couple days about the difference she could make in this rematch.

Carey was unable to play when the two teams met earlier this year, an 18-point victory for LSU, and the prevailing theory was that the valuable and fiery point guard c

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