Cardinal Comes Up Just Short Against Tigers
March 27, 2006
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Seimone Augustus saw her old pals from the Baton Rouge neighborhood reach the Final Four. Not content to just watch the boys play, she made sure LSU has two teams with a shot at a national championship next weekend.
Augustus, a middle-school AAU teammate of Glen 'Big Baby' Davis and longtime friends with other men's stars like Tyrus Thomas, scored 17 of her 26 points in the second half and drew a game-saving charge with 4.8 seconds left to send the Lady Tigers past Stanford 62-59 Monday night in the finals of the San Antonio Regional.
The nation's leading scorer and reigning national player of the year, Augustus carried LSU (31-3) in the second half with the determination of someone not wanting to end her career. Then, with the Lady Tigers up 60-59 and Stanford star Candice Wiggins driving, she planted her body in the way and drew a charge that prevented the Cardinal from getting off a potential go-ahead shot.
Her reaction was priceless: Laying prone, she began kicking her feet and shaking her fists for several seconds while Stanford (26-8) begged for a blocking call. The guys back home were certainly watching and hollering - when Augustus called Thomas to congratulate him on Saturday, he said: 'Y'all have to do your part. We've done our part.'
They did, and it's their third straight trip. The Lady Tigers will play Sunday against the winner of Tuesday night's game between Connecticut and Duke.
LSU is the seventh school to pull off the NCAA tournament double. This also is the fifth straight year it's happened. Only Connecticut in 2004 pulled off the title sweep; in fact, none of the other teams won either the men's or women's titles.
Twenty years ago, when the men last made it, the Lady Tigers blew a late lead a few hours later to miss what would've been their first Final Four. Augustus made sure history didn't repeat, scoring LSU's final four points and so many other big baskets, many after banging her back hard on the court while coming down with a rebound.
Erica White sparked LSU throughout the second half and finished with 14 points and seven assists. Sylvia Fowles added 11 points and 17 rebounds.
The game ended with LSU's Scholanda Hoston stealing the ball from Stanford's Brooke Smith. Hoston was so ready to celebrate she threw it high with about 3 seconds left. Smith fell to the ground, banging her hands in disgust, and teammate Kristen Newlin wrapped her arms around her head in disbelief.
The Lady Tigers bounced up and down as if this was their first Final Four trip, not their third straight. Augustus made her way to coach Pokey Chatman and gave her a hug that lifted the former point guard off the ground. Fowles picked up Chatman even higher.
Stanford was able to stop Oklahoma's standout center Courtney Paris in the regional semifinals, but slowing two stars - Augustus and Fowles - was just too tough. Although the Cardinal fell a game shy of their first Final Four since 1997, they're expected to be among the preseason favorites next year.
Wiggins led Stanford with 23 points, including a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left. The Cardinal made only two field goals in the last 6:30, a drought proved to be the difference - especially with them also missing three free throws in the final minute.
Smith had 14 points and eight rebounds for Stanford, but wasn't the force she'd been the previous game, when she was 14-of-16 for a career-best 35 points. Smith went 7-of-16 this time.
LSU trailed by five at halftime, but second-half charges are becoming the Lady Tigers' calling card. They outscored their previous two foes 84-48 in the second half. They won this one 39-31.
The other schools to have men's and women's teams in the Final Four in the same year are Georgia (1983), Duke (1999), Oklahoma (2002), Texas ('03), Connecticut ('04) and Michigan State ('05).