Lady Tigers pack the PMAC, pummel Penn State 80-63

Playing in front of the largest crowd ever to witness a women's basketball game in the state of Louisiana, the 2nd-ranked LSU Lady Tigers knocked off No. 15 Penn State 80-63 Saturday afternoon before a nationally televised audience on CBS.

Aiysha Smith scored 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds in leading the Lady Tigers to the 17-points victory. LSU (12-0) outscored the Lady Lions 38-28 in the first period and held PSU (10-3) well below its season average of 86 points per game much to the delight of a rocking Pete Maravich Assembly crowd of 9,798.


"This is a great day for Lady Tiger basketball," LSU head coach Sue Gunter said. "We had a great, vocal crowd and they got to see a good show."


The announced paid attendance of Saturday's game was 11,252. Both paid and actual totals were Louisiana records.


"The most important thing was showing our crowd a good game," Gunter said. "When that L-S-U was ringing through that arena, it was going all across the country."


The game was the first of three televised games by CBS pitting nationally ranked teams. Tennessee-UConn immediately followed with Purdue meeting Notre Dame in the nightcap. UConn defeated Tennessee in overtime 63-62, winning its 53rd consecutive game at home. Purdue blew out Notre Dame 71-54.


"This game gives us a lot of recognition," Smith said. "People had heard we were good, but had been saying we haven't played anybody. A nationally televised game lets people see how good we really are."


Although LSU's trademark this season has been an excellent touch from the field on offense, the Lady Tigers flexed their defensive muscles Saturday.


"This game was all about defense," LSU head coach Sue Gunter said. "This was our best defensive game this season, especially against a team that is averaging 86 points per game."


The Lady Tigers entered the contest with the mission of shutting down Lady Lion sharpshooter Kelly Mazzante. Coming into Saturday's game, Mazzante was averaging 27.2 points per game with a hot hand from beyond the arch.


Saturday, Mazzante ran into an LSU defense giving up just 49.5 points per game. The Lady Tigers showed why holding the junior guard to only 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting, just 1-of-5 from the three-point line.


"The key was for us to force her to make tough shots," LSU junior forward Roneeka Hodges said. "We knew she would get some off though. But we knew the less touches she had, the less chances she had to score."


Mazzante said she definitely felt the defensive pressure.


"They did a good job on us," Mazzante said. "Coach told us to attack the goal, but we didn't get too many open shots."


Penn State coach Rene Portland said she thought the difference in the game was depth. LSU played nine different players, all of who scored at least four points. The Lady Lions dressed just nine players, eight of which actually played in the game.


"It was a constant flow," Portland said. "Not only did she (Gunter) have depth, she had quality players coming off the bench."


The situation Penn State found itself in was comparable to LSU a year ago, a team with very few reserves.


"We have a lot of depth," Roneeka Hodges said. "We have a lot of players that can come off the bench."


"I continue to applaud our bench play," Gunter said. "There is no drop off when we go to the bench."


While Gunter kept a steady flow of players coming in and out of the game and turned up the heat on the defensive end, her Lady Tigers still had trouble finding an answer for Penn State post player Ashli Schwab. Schwab put up 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting and grabbed 22 rebounds, seven offensive boards, in leading the Lady Lions in scoring.


Speaking of defense, Portland said her game plan was to minimize LSU's ability to penetrate. She said the plan backfired as the Lad

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