Lady Tigers pull epic upset - beat Tennessee

DULUTH, Ga. -- For the second time in as many days, the No. 11 LSU women's basketball team avenged a regular-season loss, as the Lady Tigers knocked off No. 2 Tennessee, 63-54, to advance to the SEC Tournament title game.

Fourth-seeded LSU (26-6) advanced to the tournament championship game for the third-straight season, and will face No. 3-seeded Vanderbilt in the SEC final on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. CT.

Vanderbilt, which defeated LSU in Nashville (68-58 on Feb. 22) opened a 32-10 first-half lead on its way to blowing away No. 2-seeded Georgia in Saturday's nightcap, 81-56. LSU will attempt to avenge its third of four regular-season conference losses.

The Lady Tigers handed regular-season champion and top-seeded Tennessee (28-3) its first conference loss in 16 games this season.

LSU All-SEC center Sylvia Fowles once again led the Lady Tigers on both ends of the court, dominating the boards and filling the paint on the defensive end to frustrate the Lady Vols. Fowles finished with 19 points, 20 rebounds and three blocked shots in 40 minutes. With the effort, Fowles moved into the Top 10 in career scoring and into the Top 5 in career rebounding at LSU.

Fowles also helped to hold the SEC Player of the Year, Tennessee's Candace Parker, to a season-low four points on 2-of-11 shooting. Parker scored 27 in Tennessee's 56-51 regular-season win over LSU in Baton Rouge.

LSU point guard Erica White scored 17 points for the second-straight game, adding three assists and two steals. She made 9-of-12 free throws. Freshman Allison Hightower was 5-of-11 shooting for 12 points.

The Lady Tigers finished 22-of-50 from the field (44 percent), but made 10 more free throws than Tennessee attempted (17 of 22). Another key to beating Tennessee is the rebound margin. Once again, LSU won, 34-29, as each team had seven offensive rebounds.

With Parker struggling from the field, Tennessee turned to Alexis Hornbuckle, who scored 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting before fouling out in the final minute. She also had nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, while hitting 4-of-5 three pointers.

However, the Lady Vols made only 10-of-29 second-half field goals. After starting the game 10-of-17 from the field, Tennessee made only 11 of its final 39 shots to finish 21-of-56 (38 percent).

No other Lady Vols player scored in double figures, as Nicki Anosike scored nine and Sidney Spencer -- also 2-of-11 from the field -- finished with seven.

The Lady Tigers were held scoreless for the first 3:29, missing their first four shots and committing a turnover. In the mean time, Tennessee built a 7-0 lead before LSU's RaShonta LeBlanc scored the Lady Tigers' first basket with 16:31 left in the half.

The Lady Vols built an 11-point lead after a layup by Hornbuckle with 13:57 on the first-half clock and kept an eight-point advantage, 24-16, after a Spencer jumper with 8:52 left.

LSU responded with a 12-2 run over the next four minutes to take its first lead, 28-26.

Though a three-pointer by Hornbuckle allowed Tennessee to retake the lead, Fowles scored LSU's last seven points of the half to lead, 34-29.

Tennessee cut the LSU lead to two, 38-36, on another three pointer basket by Hornbuckle. However, LSU once again responded to the challenge by going on a 7-1 run over the next five minutes to lead 45-37.

Fowles' jumper off the glass with 6:47 left gave LSU its first double-digit lead, 51-41. Chaney then pushed the lead to 12 with a jumper off an in-bounds pass.

Hornbuckle scored consecutive baskets and Spencer added a pair of free throws to tighten the usually-tight contest between the SEC powerhouses going into the final media timeout at 3:47.

After LSU went more than four minutes without a field goal when Erica White converted a reverse layup to push its lead to eight, 55-47, with 1:26 left.

After a long three pointer by Spencer, White made 1-of-2 free throws to keep the LSU lead at six, 56-50, with 1:02 left.

A missed jumper by Tennessee guard Shannon Bobbitt forced the Lady Vols to foul White again and allowed White to hit two more free throws and ice the game with 47 seconds left.


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