Referring to Tennessee's last second 52-50 win over LSU in last season's national semifinal, Lady Tigers fans and players alike got their wish Thursday. Before an LSU women's hoops record crowd of 15,233, the No. 1 ranked Lady Tigers bested No. 5 Tennessee 68-58 and put a stranglehold on the SEC regular season title.
For the first time in 39 games, the
Lady Vols (18-4, 8-1 SEC) lost an SEC regular season contest. The win was the
first for LSU (22-1, 9-0) over
Behind a 25-point effort by Seimone
Augustus, LSU shot a sparkling 52-percent from the field. On the flip side, the
Lady Tigers frustrated
"I was very disappointed in our
lack of competitiveness in the game today," said
"These kids came out and established themselves on both ends of the court in the first few minutes of the game," Chatman said.
"We didn't win the war on the boards, but we won the war in the paint," Chatman said. "That's a stat we always look at."
On this night, it was more prominent than others. Although Sylvia Fowles managed only six points, the 6-6 center brought down 17 rebounds and blocked five shots.
"I think she really controlled a lot of the defensive side," Summitt said. "I thought she made a difference with her ability and size to block shots. It is a devastating blow when the ball ends up in the fourth row of the bleachers."
With the star power of Augustus and Fowles, the most valuable performance of the game may go slightly overlooked. Scholanda Hoston went 6-of-12 from the floor, scored 16 points, including a trio of crucial three-pointers, and chipped in the best defensive effort of the game against Ely providing just the park LSU needed to pull away.
With the score tied 39-39 with 13:12 left to play, Hoston went wild, hitting LSU's only three three-pointers of the game and began a 17-4 from which Tennessee would never recover.
(Scholanda) Hoston is their only three-point shooter and we couldn't seem to find her out of our zone, which is amazing to me," Summitt said. "We had a tough time defending out of our man."
While it was Hoston's offense that wowed the capacity crowd, it was her defense on Ely that impressed the junior shooting guard.
"It's just our staple," Hoston said. "We know we have to play good defense night in and night out because that's what's been carrying us this whole season. We take pride in our defense."
From the opening horn, LSU grabbed
momentum bolting out to a 7-1 lead.
Fowles knocked down a pair of free
throws giving LSU a 27-25 lead, but Wiley Gatewood hit a deep trey at the buzzer
"We felt fortunate in the first half knowing that we went into halftime with a one-point lead despite how we played," Zolman said.
It was too close to call for the first six minutes of the second half as teams exchanged leads three times. But it wasn't until Hoston's three-point barrage and LSU's overpowering offensive assault that the Lady Tigers grabbed complete control of the game.
"It was key that when they went to their press (with eight minutes left) we made one pass, a second pass and shot a layup," Chatman said. "That gave us some energy and some enthusiasm and some confidence."
The closest Tennessee would come
don the stretch seven points, trailing 65-58 with 38 seconds left after Zolman
banked in a three-pointer from the top of the key. After a few desperation fouls
"They just exploited what our weaknesses were tonight, what we didn't do very well in the second half," Zolman said.
Temeka Johnson finished the night scoring just nine points, but she dished out nine assists. Both Hoston and Augustus, who was 12-of-19 from the floor, each played all 40 minutes. LSU was whistled for just seven fouls in the game, compared to 18 by the Lady Vols.