Archive for Monday, March 31, 2003

Roundup: LSU topples La. Tech

Connecticut, Purdue also advance to Elite Eight

March 31, 2003


— Temeka Johnson and Sue Gunter could see just fine without their glasses -- and their first trip to the Final Four is definitely in sight.

Johnson had eight points, nine assists and eight rebounds despite two broken bones near her right eye, and Aiysha Smith scored 19 points as top-seeded LSU beat Louisiana Tech, 69-63, Sunday in the West Regional semifinals.

Gunter, LSU's Hall of Fame coach, is on the brink of her first Final Four after nearly four decades in the profession. The Tigers didn't get going against their fellow Louisiana power until they trailed by 17 points early in the second half, but it was easy for Gunter to forget those struggles.

"I forgot my glasses, so I really haven't seen the stat sheet," Gunter said. "It doesn't matter. I hear we won."

The Tigers' fortunes changed in the second half when Johnson, their sparkplug point guard and the SEC tournament MVP, catalyzed a 16-0 rally with her scoring, defense and playmaking. She wore goggles to protect her face in the first half, but they kept fogging up -- and she discarded them in time to lead the Tigers to the win.

Freshman Seimone Augustus scored 14 points for the Tigers (30-3), who took the lead for good with 4 1/2 minutes left, then snapped the fifth-seeded Techsters' 29-game winning streak with fearless scoring down the stretch.

"I don't like to be down, honestly -- especially by as much as we were down," Augustus said.

The Tigers also earned Bayou State superiority, even if the game was played way out in California.

Two-time WAC player of the year Cheryl Ford finished her career with 16 points and 15 rebounds for Louisiana Tech (31-3), which hadn't lost since Dec. 4. Trina Frierson scored 18 points, but the Techsters lost their momentum early in the second half and never got it back as LSU shot better than 56 percent after halftime.

Karl Malone, Ford's famous father, made the trip during a two-day break in the Utah Jazz's season to support his alma mater and his daughter. The NBA's second-leading career scorer sipped lemonade and shouted at the officials.

Connecticut 70,

Boston College 49

Dayton, Ohio -- Diana Taurasi scored 18 of her 26 points in the first half, and Connecticut dominated from the start. Jessica Moore gave top-seeded Connecticut (34-1) an inside presence with 17 points, and Barbara Turner added 14 for the Huskies, who beat Boston College (22-9) for the second time this season. Connecticut, the defending national champion, will play Purdue in the regional final Tuesday night. A victory would send the Huskies to the Final Four for the fourth straight year and seventh time overall.

Purdue 66, Notre Dame 47

Dayton, Ohio -- Erika Valek scored 19 points and helped key an early second-half spurt to lead Purdue. The second-seeded Boilermakers (29-5) advanced to meet defending champion and top-seeded Connecticut for a spot in the Final Four. The 11th-seeded Irish were the lowest remaining seed left in the tournament after beating No. 6 Arizona in the first round and No. 3 Kansas State in the second round. Shereka Wright had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Mary Jo Noon added 12 points and Beth Jones scored 10 points for the Boilermakers, who won their eighth straight.

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