Lady Tigers drops SEC title game - lose 51-45

DULUTH, Ga. – Maybe Saturday's upset of No. 3 Tennessee took too much out of Pokey Chatman's LSU team.

After rolling over the Lady Vols on Saturday night, LSU struggled mightily from the floor shooting just 29-percent in Sunday's SEC Tournament championship game versus Vanderbilt. In a game that swung back and forth to the very end, Vanderbilt pulled away in the final two minutes to knock off the Lady Tigers 51-45 in front of 4,759 fans in the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.


For the third straight season, LSU (26-7) reached the championship round the SEC Tournament only to fall by a narrow margin in the end. The Lady Tigers lost to Tennessee in 2005 67-65 and again in 2006 63-62. LSU won the SEC Tournament in 2003 beating the Lady Vols 78-62.


It was the second time this season LSU has lost to Vanderbilt. The Lady Commodores (28-5) beat LSU 68-58 on Feb. 22.


LSU limited Vanderbilt to just 51 points and 42-percent shooting, a huge accomplishment considering the Lady Commodores averaged 93 points in their previous to tournament games. However, the Lady Tigers managed to hit just 15 of 52 shots from the floor and was outrebounded 32-27.


"If you would have told me they would only score 51 points I'd have given them that any time," said LSU assistant coach Christie Sides. "We executed our defensive gameplan well."


Roshanta LeBlanc led the Lady Tigers in scoring with a career high 19 points. She made 7 of 14 shots, including all three of LSU's three-pointers in the game.


Sylvia Fowles saw her streak of 19 straight games with a double double snapped. Fowles had logged a double double in her last 21 games against SEC teams, but she came up one rebound short of continuing the streak. Fowles scored 13 points and managed nine rebounds.


"They (Vanderbilt) packed it in inside," Sides said. "Every time we threw it inside to Sylvia, she had two or three people running at her. They took away our inside game."


Dee Davis led the Lady Commodores with 19 points. Carla Thomas added 13 more for Vanderbilt.


LSU did take advantage of free throws making 12 of 14 attempts. The Lady Commodores converted 12 of 16 shots from the charity stripe.


In a low-scoring first 11 minutes, the teams were still tied at 9-9. Vanderbilt earned its first lead on a pair of free throws by Davis, 13-12, with 7:08 left in the half.


The Lady Tigers responded with a 7-1 run over the next 3:08 to take a 19-14 lead when reserve guard Khalilah Mitchell hit a 12-foot jumper from the right wing -- the only LSU basket of the half not scored by LeBlanc or Fowles.


Vanderbilt rolled off six-straight points in the paint and retook the lead, 20-19, with 1:37 left.


The Commodores held a 24-23 advantage at the half after making their final four shots in the last three minutes.


LeBlanc and Fowles combined to make 8-of-12 shots and score 21 points, while the rest of the Lady Tigers were 1-of-13 in the half.


Both teams started the second half 2-of-10 from the field, as Davis hit Vanderbilt's first three-pointer of the game to give the Commodores a 30-27 lead with 11:57 left in the game.


LeBlanc scored five-straight to put the Lady Tigers up 32-30 with 9:04 left, when the see-saw on the scoreboard began.


Vanderbilt then scored consecutive baskets to lead 46-43 with 2:04 to play.


Still trailing by three, LSU's Erica White forced a turnover and Ashley Thomas hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 46-45 with 29.9 seconds to play.


LSU was unable to foul Vanderbilt on the full-court press, allowing Davis to score a fast-break layup with 24.2 seconds on the clock.

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