Lady Tigers try to break Final Four roadblock

For the third time in as many seasons, the top-seeded LSU women's basketball team has advanced to the Women's Final Four. However, the Lady Tigers look this time to advance for the first time to a national championship game when they face Duke at 8:30 p.m. CT on Sunday.

After winning the Southeastern Conference regular-season title with a 13-1 league record, LSU (31-3) fought through two tough first halves in Nashville to soundly defeat No. 16-seeded Florida Atlantic (72-48) and No. 9-seeded Washington (72-49).

The road to Boston continued in the San Antonio Regional, where LSU broke a tie game at the half to beat No. 4-seeded DePaul, 66-56, and keep the Blue Demons from their first Sweet 16 victory.

Two days later, Augustus took a charge with less than five seconds to play to secure a 62-59 win over No. 3-seeded Stanford and punch LSU's ticket to Boston and the 2006 NCAA Women's Final Four.

On Sunday evening, LSU plays the second of two national semifinal matches -- the first time that the Lady Tigers have played in the nightcap of the Women's Final Four.

In 2004, LSU was tied and had possession of the ball in the final moments of the Women's Final Four against Tennessee. However, point guard Temeka Johnson turned the ball over and the Lady Vols made a layup as time expired to win, 52-50.

In 2005, the Lady Tigers had a double-digit lead in the first half before eventual national champion Baylor came back to hand LSU its second-straight Women's Final Four loss, 68-57.

This season, Duke (30-3) stands in the way of LSU's shot at a national championship -- one of three Atlantic Coast Conference schools still vying for the 2006 title.

In two of the past seven seasons, LSU had ended the Blue Devils' NCAA Tournament run, including a 59-49 decision in the 2005 Chattanooga Regional.

If LSU hopes to advance to Tuesday evening's national championship game (7:30 p.m. CT, ESPN), the team must continue to get stellar play from two-time State Farm Wade Trophy winner, Seimone Augustus.

Augustus, the nation's leading scorer and active career scoring leader, put LSU on her then-sore and stiff back to get the Lady Tigers to Boston. The senior has matched her season scoring average (23.0 ppg.) in the tournament, while adding six rebounds per game and hitting 50.6 percent of her field goals (39 of 77).

Her teammate in the paint, 6-6 center Sylvia Fowles, has averaged a double double in the NCAA Tournament (12.3 ppg., 11.5 rpg.) while blocking eight shots.

Though four of the nation's top-six scoring offenses will be showcased in TD Banknorth Garden, the Lady Tigers' defense will be key in stopping a potent Duke attack.

Kodak All-American Monique Currie leads Duke in scoring with 16.3 points per game, while 6-3 senior forward Mistie Williams adds 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

In the middle, Duke's 6-7 center Alison Bales earned the Bridgeport Regional Most Outstanding Player honor and averaged 13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.3 blocks in the first four tournament games.

Two players new to the Blue Devils' squad since last season's meeting are point guard Lindsey Harding (10.5 ppg., 4.5 apg.) and freshman reserve guard Abby Waner (8.9 ppg., 47 of 126 from three-point range), who was the national high school player of the year in 2005.

The Women's Final Four will begin with North Carolina and Maryland at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.

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