Lady Tigers go down in flames 64-45

After outscoring its four NCAA Tournament opponents by 51 points in the second half, the LSU women's basketball weren't able to spark a second-half comeback in the Women's Final Four. Duke ended LSU's season, 64-45, on Sunday.

With the loss came the end of an era in LSU women's basketball.

Seimone Augustus, LSU's modern day "Everyone's All-American," saw her collegiate career come to an end in a rare offensive struggle. Though her awards were nearly amazing as her 2,702 career points, Augustus fell short of her goal of shot at a national championship for the third time in a row.

Augustus was held scoreless in the first 22 minutes of play before finishing with 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting.

LSU center Sylvia Fowles finished with eight points and 13 rebounds, but, much like the rest of the Lady Tigers, was mostly ineffective against Duke's packed-in defense. Senior Florence Williams added 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, as the Miami native was the only Lady Tigers player who was better than 50 percent from the field.

LSU's third senior in this class, Scholanda Hoston, once again played the defensive stopper role on Currie for most of the game. However, she was unable to carry her performance to the same level on the offensive end, making only 2-of-13 shots and scoring eight points. She was 0-of-5 from three-point range.

LSU, the Southeastern Conference regular-season champions, ended the 2005-06 season with a 31-4 overall record.

Duke (31-3) advanced to face No. 2-seeded Maryland in Tuesday's national championship game. The Terps defeated overall No. 1-seeded North Carolina, 81-70, in the first national semifinal.

Defensively, the Blue Devils took LSU out of everything they did well to this point in the season, mainly containing Augustus and Fowles.

LSU finished 18-of-62 shooting (29 percent), the lowest field goal percentage in the 25-year history of the Women's Final Four, and scored on 15 first-half points -- also a record in the national semifinals.

On the opposite end, Duke made 50-percent of their field goals (26 of 52) including 57.1 percent in the second half (16 of 28).

Mistie Williams led four Blue Devils in double figures scoring with 14 points while grabbing nine rebounds. All-American Monique Currie was also held scoreless in the first half before finishing with 13.

Freshman guard Abby Waner had 11 and points guard Lindsey Harding added 10 points and five assists. Though she only had seven points and five rebounds, Duke's 6-8 center Alison Bales was a force inside with six blocked shots.

The Lady Tigers' trend of slow starts in the tournament continued, as LSU made only 2-of-15 shots with seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of play to find themselves in a hole once again.

LSU trailed 18-4 when Chante Black made a second-chance layup with 9:28 remaining in the half. Duke made 7-of-13 field goals to start the game.

Unable to generate offense in the halfcourt, the Lady Tigers again turned to their defense to score points. By holding Duke without a field goal for nearly six minutes, LSU crept back within five, 18-13, on a layup by Fowles with 3:05 left in the half.

However, a 17-foot jumper by Florence Williams was the only LSU field goals in the final 4:41. Duke led LSU, 26-15, when Currie scored on a fast-break layup with 10 seconds left in the half.

LSU's 15 points set a Women's Final Four record for the fewest scored in a half, breaking Purdue's mark of only 17 against Duke in 1999 (NOTE: Duke lost in that championship game by 17).

The 41 combined points were the second-lowest in Women's Final Four history.

The Duke lead grew to 15, 30-15, as Mistie Williams hit consecutive shots in the paint early in the second half.

Five Lady Tigers -- including Augustus with her first basket of the game -- scored in the next seven minutes to start a comeback. LSU used a 16-7 run to get within six, 37-31, on a jumper by reserve guard RaShonta LeBlanc with 12 minutes left.

Duke wasn't going to became the latest victim to another LSU rally, however. The Blue Devils answered with an 13-1 run of their own over the next four-plus minutes to earn a 51-33 lead and send the Lady Tigers home short of their championship goal.

LSU would get no closer than 13.

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