Back in familiar surroundings

Lady Tigers take a place back in the NCAA Tournament, face San Diego State in opening round.

As nice as it is to be home for the LSU women for the 2012 NCAA Tournament, another feeling is more pervasive. It's good to be back.

After missing the postseason last year for the first time since 1998, the Lady Tigers are back in the hunt, invited after a solid finish to the regular season and a run to the SEC Championship game. No. 5 seed LSU (22-10) seeks to maintain its home-court advantage in postseason play as the Lady Tigers open the tournament against No. 12 seed San Diego State (25-6) at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at approximately 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

No. 4 seed Penn State (24-6) takes on No. 13 seed UTEP (29-3) in the first contest at 4:15 p.m. CT. The two winners advance to the second round at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

All-session ticket books and group tickets are on sale now at On game day, tickets go on sale at 3 p.m. at the Maravich Center ticket office. Adult all-session ticket books cost $25 plus applicable fees, which includes admission to all three games of the tournament. Youth all-session ticket books are $15. Group tickets for parties of 10 or more are available for $5 and that includes admission to one session of your choosing.

Nikki Caldwell has the LSU women back in the 2012 NCAA Tournament in her first season and the Lady Tigers are playing at home.

LSU students can get in free of charge thanks to the generous donations made by Athletic Director Joe Alleva and coaches Les Miles, Trent Johnson and Paul Mainieri. To gain free admission, students must show their student ID upon entering the arena. LSU students will enter the PMAC using the upper northeast portal.

"I can't say enough about the gratitude we feel as program for them to do that," LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. "It sends a statement of how serious they are in their level of support for women's basketball for them to each donate $1,000 to help bring more people in here to watch women's basketball. It is just a gesture you feel when you are around this athletic department whether you are on the men's side or the women's side."

Parking permits used during the 2011-12 regular season will not be valid for entry to any parking lots for the NCAA Tournament. All parking held for the event is for official use only.

Fans may park for free in all areas not held for official use. The regular season shuttle route will continue to run for the tournament. The shuttle service will begin two hours before each tipoff with return service picking up at the entrance of parking lot I.

The Lady Tigers are returning to action for the first time in 14 days but the long break between games has been beneficial. LSU recovered from several injuries – including one to senior forward LaSondra Barrett – and was able to scrimmage several times to prepare for the tournament. Barrett suffered a concussion when she took a knee to the head in the SEC Championship game loss to Tennessee.

"We rested her immediately after the SEC Tournament and I have felt LaSondra has had some of her best practices," Caldwell said. "She has been very aggressive in scoring the basketball and making her team look better. To me, those are all qualities of an All-American when you look at her ability to put the entire team on her back."

Barrett is one of six LSU players with NCAA Tournament experience. She heads into NCAA play averaging a team-best 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds.

Adrienne Webb: Five straight double-digit scoring games, 14 ppg in SEC Tournament give the Lady Tigers more balance

Junior guard Adrienne Webb takes a string of five consecutive double-figure scoring games into the tournament. Webb was LSU's leading scorer in the SEC Tournament, putting up 14 points per game.

"This group this year has hit a lot of adversity," said Caldwell. "They have overcome adversity, and they have prevailed through it. We are a team that defends and rebounds the basketball, but we are also a team that is a family. I think that has been our staple all year."

LSU and San Diego State are meeting for the first time in women's basketball and both rely heavily on their defense, allowing fewer than 55 points per game. The Aztecs feature a terrific guard tandem in Courtney Clements and Chelsea Hopkins. Clements is averaging a team-best 17.4 points per game.

Hopkins was named Mountain West Conference Tournament most valuable player after producing a single-season school record 202. She ranks among the top 10 in the nation in that category.

The Lady Tigers have won 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament first-round games and are 13-2 all-time in NCAA games played in the Maravich Center.



Tiger Blitz Top Stories