LSU dealt bitter defeat 63-62 to UT in finals

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark – It is a pattern than has come almost standard in the Southeastern Conference. If you win the regular season title, don't count on winning the post season tournament.

For the second straight year, the LSU Lady Tigers found out the hard way.

On Sunday evening, playing on floor where they won the tournament in 2003, LSU fell to Tennessee 63-62.


Tennessee freshman Candace Parker hit a floater while driving to her left with 17 seconds left to lift the Lady Volunteers to a 63-62 victory over LSU in the finals of the SEC Tournament at Alltel Arena.


"Coach told me to dribble some time off, then we went into our isolation play,'' said Parker. "I knew they would not double down because of our outside shooters. I was taller so I just shot the ball over her.''


LSU's answer was to go to senior to Seimone Augustus, but her free throw lane jumper missed and UT rebounded with 9 seconds left.


"I wasn't open into the basket,'' said Augustus, who finished with 24 points. "Spence, I believe, I don't know which player it was but she held off. I didn't want to take a chance at drawing a foul, losing the ball, whatever the case may have been, so I stopped and shot the jumper.''


It took UT three tries to get the ball inbounds – Scholanda Hoston nearly stole the first one was but was ruled out of bound and  the Lady Vols had to use a timeout to save a five-second call on a second try.  They were finally successful and ran out the final 3 seconds to send the most of the crowd of 8,255 into celebration.


"I credit our team for still putting ourselves in a position to have a shot a winning the basketball game,'' said LSU coach Pokey Chatman. "But when you give up 10 three-pointers in this environment this late in the year, it's going to be a struggle, uphill battle.


"You know, so often we get lost in things, this basketball game that has such elite athletes on the court, it gets lost in the shuffle. So often the mental to physical is a four to one.


"And the mental part of that is as close to 40 minutes as possible. Whenever you face a touch opponent like Tennessee, you have to carry the game plan from the practice floor, to the locker room, from the huddle onto the floor. Often we didn't do that. So of that was related to Tennessee, some of that to us.''


The Lady Vols had two less field goals and one less free throw than LSU, but used the 3-pointer as the equalizer. With Sylvia Fowles taking away the inside game – seven blocks, including four in the opening minutes – they had to look elsewhere and they found their answer outside the 3-point arc.


Sidney Spencer (5 of 7) and Shanna Zolman (4 of 7) did most of the damage.


UT was 10 of 19 in the game, but was 6 of 10 in the first half.


Spencer led Tennessee with 21 points. Zolman added 14.


"They dominated inside,'' said Zolman, who also had eight assists. "When that wasn't going as well as it has in the past, Sid stepped up tremendously from the outside. She had a lot of open looks was able to knock them down.''


The Augustus miss was the second by LSU in the closing minute. Leading

62-61 with 32.2 left, point guard Erica White missed the front of a one-and-one and set up the game winner by Parker.


"It was a one-on-one matchup,'' said Scholanda Hoston, who guard Parker on the play. "They cleared out. I forced her to her left where I felt it was a little less of a comfort zone for her. She shot a fade-away one-handed jumper and it went in.''


Parker finished with 20 points.


"Well, first of all, I've said many times that I think Candace Parker, I don't think there's any question who the freshman player of the year should be. People are talking about all the names out there. In my opinion, there's only one that can do what she can do.  … You know there so many dimensions to her game that it's very difficult for teams to say ‘We're going to stop her because she's going to be on the low block."


Unlike in the previous tournament games, LSU would go on runs but Tennessee was able to answer. The Tigers trailed 47-45 but put together a 10-0 run over four minutes and led 55-48 with 8:21 left. UT's Tye'sha Fluker scored twice inside and Zolman and Spencer had 3-pointers for UT to regain the lead at 58-55 with 4:10 left.


LSU was up 62-58 with 49 seconds left but Zolman's 3-pointer 14 seconds later set the Lady Vols up for the victory.


Fowles finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.


In the first half, LSU led by as many as 22-15 and trailed by as many as 36-30.


"Well I think in a game like this it's a team that obviously has an opportunity to have the ball last and win the game because of it,'' said Summitt. "We chose to foul. We knew we would get the ball back one more time to score. I guess I trusted our team offensively. I thought we struggled during the second half.


"LSU is a great, great basketball team. I think we both should get a No. 1


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