(4) LSU 50

(27-8, 10-4 SEC)

(1) Tennessee 52

(31-3, 14-0 SEC)

    7:00 PM ET, April 4, 2004

    Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

    1 2 T
    #4LSU 25 2550
    #1TENN 19 3352

    Top Performers

    LSU: S. Augustus 16 Pts, 10 Reb

    Tennessee: S. Zolman 12 Pts, 3 Reb

    Davis the hero in Lady Vols' win over LSU

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A disputed foul call with time running out, a spinning last-second shot and now a backcourt steal in the waning moments.

    Tennessee may not dominate women's basketball like it used to, but the Lady Vols somehow found their way to an 11th NCAA championship game.

    LaToya Davis scored with 1.6 seconds left after LSU's Temeka Johnson lost the ball in the backcourt, giving the Lady Vols a 52-50 victory over the Lady Tigers in their national semifinal game Sunday night.

    Zoning Out
    Ann MeyersI thought LSU had it won. Tennessee's zone probably hurt the Lady Tigers the most. The zone, which Tennessee switched to with about 16 minutes left in the game and stuck with until the final two minutes, was effective because Temeka Johnson couldn't penetrate inside. Her injury -- a bruised right thigh -- seemed to limit her speed and ability to drive. This also was just the third game this season that LSU failed to hit a 3-pointer.

    Still, this would have been a much better game had Seimone Augustus not missed 14 of her 21 shots, but I'm not sure that was because of Tennessee's defense. Augustus just missed shots. She entered the game shooting 66 percent from the field in the tournament, but finished with 16 points -- 10 below her tournament average -- and 7-for-21 (33 percent). In the first half, Augustus was 2-for-9, but at that point her teammates were making up for it.

    The other thing that ended up haunting LSU was missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with about four minutes to play. That could have given the Lady Tigers some momentum. We said this game could come down to free throws, and LSU's 12-for-20 performance at the line hurt.

    It was a fantastic game, and my LSU has a great chance of coming back next year.
    -- ESPN analyst Ann Meyers

    "They have low blood pressure," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said of her players. "My blood pressure right now is not even worth checking. ... I told them I was really proud of them but I don't know how much more of this I could take."

    Little has come easy for the Lady Vols this postseason, but balance and remarkable resiliency have put them back in the title game. They now seek an unprecedented seventh overall championship on the heels of three straight two-point, last-second victories.

    With the score tied 50-50 and the clock running down, once again Tennessee put the ball in the hands of Tasha Butts, who scored the winning points in the Lady Vols' last two narrow wins.

    She missed this time, giving LSU the ball with 6 seconds left. But Tennessee trapped Johnson in the backcourt, forcing the turnover when Johnson tripped as she tried to advance past Ashley Robinson. The ball squirted out and Shyra Ely came up with it and quickly fed Davis underneath for an uncontested layup.

    "I was just in the right place at the right time," said Ely, Tennessee's leading scorer who was held to four points on 1-of-11 shooting. "I just grabbed the loose ball and saw LaToya."

    Tennessee, the lone No. 1 seed in the Final Four, will play Connecticut, a 67-58 winner over Minnesota. It will be the second straight title game between the two, and the fourth time in the last 10 years. Connecticut has won all three meetings.

    "I guess the way we feel is we're supposed to be here because we keep on finding ways to win," Ely added.

    LSU coach Pokey Chatman tried to deflect criticism from Johnson's late turnover, noting that LSU made only 12 of 20 free throws, had nine turnovers and allowed Tennessee to score 18 second-chance points.

    UConn or Tennessee?
    Huskies or Lady Vols? Pat or Geno? Who will cut down the nets? Cast your vote now!

    "It's probably going to be unfortunate that we're probably going to talk about the last six seconds of this game and in my opinion that's not where this game was lost," Chatman said.

    Seimone Augustus led LSU with 16 points and nine rebounds, but her shooting percentage plummeted from the previous games in the tournament. She carried the Lady Tigers to their first Final Four by making 67 percent of her shots.

    Guarded mostly by Robinson, Augustus finished 7-for-21 against Tennessee. Johnson had nine points and eight assists for LSU.

    "I had good looks. Shots just weren't falling," Augustus said.

    Shanna Zolman led Tennessee (31-3) with 12 points, hitting a 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer with 1:38 left to give Tennessee a 50-46 lead.

    LSU (27-8) rallied to tie it at 50 when Johnson drove and passed to Tillie Willis with 27.2 seconds left.

    But Davis made the final basket. Tennessee players leapt and punched their fists in the air, while LSU looked stunned. LSU could not get off a desperation shot before the final buzzer.

    It was the lowest scoring game in women's Final Four history. The previous was in the 1985 semifinal game in which Old Dominion defeated and Louisiana-Monroe 57-47.

    Afterward, LSU forward Wendlyn Jones sat quietly in the Tigers' locker room, trying to grasp the abrupt end to her season.

    "I can't believe that just happened," Jones said.

    It was a heartbreaking ending to a feel-good run. Longtime coach Sue Gunter has been watching games from home since early this season because of respiratory problems.

    Chatman took over and led the Tigers to their first Final Four. Gunter watched the semifinal from a nearby hotel room.

    What she saw was fierce defensive intensity from her players, who frustrated Tennessee's shooters throughout the game only to come up short in the wild final seconds.

    The Lady Vols had only three players score in double figures. Butts had 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Davis finished with 10.

    Tennessee shot only 29 percent from the floor through the first 30 minutes, but LSU could not capitalize because Augustus started 4-for-15.

    The Lady Vols, who started 0-for-9 from 3-point range, suddenly got the shooting they needed midway through the second half, with 3s by Sidney Spencer and Zolman and a strong inside basket by Tye'sha Fluker comprising an 8-2 run to tie the score at 34.

    Tennessee is used to dominating its Southeastern Conference rivals. The Lady Vols were 31-7 against LSU, including an 85-62 victory on Feb. 29.

    But Tennessee looked tight early, hitting less than 30 percent of its shots through the first 12:02 in falling behind 15-10.

    It was the lowest-scoring first half of the season for the Vols, who were shooting only 29 percent (8-of-28) from the floor.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 50 52
    FG Made-Attempted 19-51 (.373) 18-57 (.316)
    3P Made-Attempted 0-4 (.000) 3-11 (.273)
    FT Made-Attempted 12-19 (.632) 14-19 (.737)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 19 (0/0)

    Game Leaders

    PointsS. Augustus 16S. Zolman 12
    ReboundsS. Augustus 10T. Butts 12


    » Apr 4, 2004 @TENN 52, LSU 50Recap | Box Score