Seimone Augustus scored 24 points and pulled down 19 rebounds as 5th-ranked LSU staked claim to a four-point victory much to the delight of 3,490 fans in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Sunday afternoon.
The Lady Tigers (18-1, 6-1 SEC), who led 31-28 at the half, tried mightily to put the game on ice in the second half. But the resilient Lady Bulldogs kept roaring back keeping the score close.
"We had several opportunities to open this thing up," LSU head coach Sue Gunter said. "But give Georgia credit. We kept letting them get back in it."
A pair of free throws by the Lady Bulldogs' Kara Braxton cut LSU's lead to just two points, 63-61. The Lady Tigers gained possession with 51 seconds remaining in regulation. As seconds ticked off the clock, junior guard Temeka Johnson drove to the top of the key and lofted a 12-foot jumper, which found nothing but the bottom of the basket. Johnson's clutch shot with 32 seconds left gave LSU a four-point, 65-61 lead and insured the victory.
"The biggest shot of the game was Temeka Johnson's shot with 32 seconds left," Gunter said. "That was one she knew she had to nail. They let her shoot it and she did and it was the difference in the game."
Johnson said she took advantage of an open look and said the thought of missing the basket never crossed her mind.
"I never thought twice about it," Johnson said. "I knew they were defending Doneeka (Hodges) because she is a shooter. I didn't want the shot clock to run down so I had a look and I took the shot."
Augustus led all scorers with 24 followed by Aiysha Smith, who had 17. The Lady Bulldogs (14-5, 5-1 SEC) were paced by Alexia Kendrick's 17 points. Marquita Driskell had 13 points while Christi Thomas and Kara Braxton each scored 10.
The second half was a game of runs as each team traded prosperous periods of scoring. Three times down the stretch LSU opened up sizeable leads but could not deter Georgia from making a run.
A Ke-Ke Tardy layup with 18:36 to go in the second gave the Lady Tigers a 37-30 lead and a seven-point advantage. But the Lady Bulldogs Alexia Kendrick knocked down a trio of jumpers, including two three-pointers to close the LSU lead to one.
Wendlyn Jones knocked down a free throw converting a three-point giving LSU a 50-40 lead with 12:49 left to play. However, Georgia scored seven straight points holding the Lady Tigers scoreless for a period of 4:03 and closed the gap to 50-47.
A pair of Aiysha Smith free throws broke LSU's scoreless drought with 8:43 remaining and by the time Tardy converted another pair of gimme's from the charity stripe with 7:01 left, the Lady Tigers had restored a seven point advantage, 56-49, with 7:01 left on the ticker.
Speaking of free throws, LSU went to the line 30 times compared to just 14 trips by Georgia. The Lady Tigers collected 26 points off free throws while the Lady Bulldogs hit 13-of-14.
With LSU going to the line early and often, the Lady Bulldogs found themselves in early foul trouble.
"We did to them what Vanderbilt did to us last Sunday," Gunter said. "We looked up three or four minutes into the game a week ago and had three post players in foul trouble."
Two Georgia players fouled out in the game. Both Christi Thomas and Mary Beth Lycett were sent to the bench after recording five personal fouls each.
Georgia coach Andy Landers said the fact LSU out-rebounded Georgia 43-36 had something to do with the Lady Bulldogs being in foul trouble.
"They out-rebounded us inside on the offensive glass," Landers said. "That gave them more second chance opportunities inside which meant we had to defend them longer inside therefore we got more fouls."
The Lady Tigers had 19 offensive rebounds compared to 12 by Georgia. The simple fact LSU was able to out-rebound Georgia was enough to delight Gunter.
"That is a Georgia team that out-rebounds their opponents plus-13," Gunter said. "For us to out-rebound them, that is huge."
"They had more boards than we did today," Braxton said. "That was the difference in the game."
The Lady Bulldogs were not about to allow LSU to build on its