LSU (27-7) improved to 10-2 in NCAA first-round games -- including nine-straight -- and 29-16 in tournament history, while UNC Asheville (21-12) lost in its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Lady Tigers will face
The Mountaineers upset No. 6-seeded Xavier, 65-52, on Saturday.
LSU acting head coach Bob
Starkey, an assistant coach at LSU for 18 years, earned his first win
as a head coach. He is a native of
Tonight, LSU's guards led the way, as UNC Asheville put at least four players around 6-6 center Sylvia Fowles when she was on the court.
Though Fowles tallied only eight points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes, LSU's shooting guards paced the team offensively.
RaShonta LeBlanc and Quianna Chaney each scored 15 points. LeBlanc matched a school record in tournament play with 5-of-6 three-pointers, while Chaney was 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. Point guard Erica White added 10 points and seven assists.
LSU finished 29-of-66 from the field (43.9 percent) including 9-of-18 from three-point range. UNC Asheville was only 15-of-55 shooting and hit 5-of-19 three-pointers.
The Lady Tigers got 29 points from its bench, which saw plenty of action even in the opening 20 minutes.
UNC Asheville was led by Katie Baldwin and Kyla Jones with seven points each. Their 25 turnovers led to 27 LSU points.
LSU set or tied school records in tournament play in several categories including: blocked shots (10); three pointers (9); three pointers attempted (18); opponent turnovers (25, four times); opponent free throw percentage (4 of 12, 33.3 percent).
Eight minutes into the contest, LSU opened a 10-point lead, 17-7, as the Lady Tigers made three three-pointers against the Bulldogs' packed-in 2-3 zone.
Midway through the half, Starkey rested his starters and played every reserve on the LSU bench.
With its All-American and All-SEC players out of the game, LSU maintained a seven-point lead with consecutive second-chance baskets by Katie Antony.
The LSU starters returned after the 7:54 media timeout and quickly took control of the game.
The Lady Tigers allowed only two field goals in the final 9:19 of the half, while outscoring the Bulldogs, 18-5.
LSU led 39-19 at the half after making 6-of-13 three pointers and forcing 15 UNC Asheville turnovers.
With a 9-0 run to start the second half, LSU's lead blossomed to 46-19. The Lady Tigers were well on their way into the second round, as they led 62-24 with less than 12 minutes to play after opening the half on a 23-5 run.
Once again, the LSU starters left the game -- this time for good.