Lady Tigers hold off Louisville, win tourney

A strong first-half performance kept No. 2-ranked LSU a safe distance from a pesky Louisville squad and provided the Lady Tigers with a 65-46 win in Thursday night's championship game of the Basketball Classic.<br><br>Seimone Augustus led LSU with 16 points and claimed Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament.

DeTrina White notched her 27th career double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds against the Cardinals and was named to the All-Tournament squad with teammate Aiysha Smith, who had nine points.


White, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Ohio in LSU's tournament opener on Wednesday, logged her first back-to-back doubles since her sophomore season in the 2000 NCAA Tournament.


LSU (8-0) capitalized on 51.6 percent shooting and 17 first-half turnovers from Louisville (3-4), scoring 24 points off the miscues.


But the Cardinals, taking advantage of second-chance baskets and 10 offensive rebounds in the second half, stayed in the game until the last five minutes. But from that point, they managed only one field goal over the rest of the game.


"I really felt like the first half was the best half of basketball we played all year. We shot the ball well. We executed well. The press was very good," said LSU coach Sue Gunter. "But for whatever reason, we come back the second half and we can't sustain anything."


Louisville cut a 20-point lead for LSU down to ten in the opening minutes of the second half with the aid of a pair of long-range 3-pointers from Sara Nord. The Cardinals could never get within single digits of the Lady Tigers but managed to stay within ten as late as the 5:24 mark when Nord made a 14-foot jumper conversion from a steal.


After Nord's basket, LSU outscored Louisville 9-2 to keep its record perfect and give the Lady Tigers their best start to a season since going 14-0 in 1996-97.


The game was iced when Temeka Johnson extended a 13-point LSU lead with four free throws in a span of 30 seconds. In between, Augustus supplied a layup in transition from a White feed after White blocked a shot on the other end.


Johnson's second trip to the line came after she made a steal in the backcourt and gave LSU a 63-44 lead with 3:34 to play. Each team would convert just one more field goal the rest of the way. 


Amanda Wolke scored Louisville's last points with a drive to the hoop at the 3:11, and White capped the night's scoring with a basket underneath the goal off an in-bounds pass from Johnson.


Louisville held its only lead, 7-6, with 16:04 to play in the first half, but LSU moved back ahead following the first media timeout with a baseline jumper from Smith.


Roneeka Hodges, who had 13 points off the bench, gave the Lady Tigers a double-digit lead, 20-9, with a 3-pointer at the 9:44 mark, and Keisha James made it a 13-point advantage when she scored after a steal on the ensuing in-bounds pass.


LSU's first-half lead grew to 20 points, 35-15, coming on a second chance 12-foot jumper from Augustus with 1:51 left. Augustus opened the second-half scoring with a lay-up in transition, and White added a basket underneath for the Lady Tigers' largest margin, 41-19.


"I think we attacked the zone (defense) harder than last night," said Augustus. "It was the penetration from the perimeter players that opened it up for DeTrina and Aiysha to get shots on the inside."


Although LSU outscored Louisville in the paint, 32-22, Gunter said she was disappointed in the 18 turnovers the Lady Tigers committed in the game.


"That's 18 turnovers against a team that played a zone defense and didn't press," she said. "We have got to do a better job on taking care of the basketball."


Lori Nero, a Baton Rouge native who has played at Louisiana Tech and Auburn, led Louisville with 15 points and 11 rebounds. She was also named to the All-Tournament team with Nord, who finished with 14 points, and Ohio's Andrea Johnson.


It was the first action in over a year from Nero, who had to sit out the first half of the 2002-03 season to gain her eligibility.


"I played well tonight but I don't think I played up to my potential," said Nero. "It's good to come back and play in front of family and friends."


"Lori's the type of post player we're going to see every game after Christmas," said Gunter. "Every game we will face a big, physical post and I think it was good for us to face her tonight."


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