1:30 PM ET, November 14, 2004
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- LSU (No. 2 ESPN/USA Today, No. 3 AP) needed every one of Seimone Augustus' career-high 33 points to beat Baylor, not to mention Temeka Johnson's quick hands.Johnson, the smallest player on the floor at 5-feet-3, tipped the ball away from Emily Niemann in the closing seconds Sunday to help LSU escape with a 71-70 victory over the eighth-ranked Lady Bears in the Tip-Off Classic."I knew they were going to take one shot and Emily Niemann had the hot hand," Johnson said. "She has a really quick release, so it was either let her get her shot off or get my hand on the ball."So I tried everything I could to get my hand on the ball. I did, thank God."Baylor's Chelsea Whitaker ran the ball down but could do nothing more than throw up a desperation shot that hit the side of the backboard as she was falling out of bounds."We just rushed the first option instead of waiting," Baylor's Steffanie Blackmon said. "We had another timeout and didn't think about that. But it's our first game and having that experience will only help us grow."LSU (3-0) led by as many as 21, then found itself scrambling after Baylor (0-1) charged back behind Blackmon, Niemann and Sophia Young.Augustus' final basket gave LSU a 71-69 lead with 1:19 left. Young's free throw cut the lead to one and Baylor got the ball back on a shot clock violation with 25.6 seconds remaining. The Lady Bears worked the ball around the perimeter and had it on the right side when Johnson knocked it loose.But even getting the game to that point was an accomplishment for Baylor considering the way Augustus was playing. The leading vote-getter on the AP's preseason All-America team, Augustus made 14 of 21 shots, hitting everything from fadeaways to pull-up jumpers to putbacks, and added six rebounds and three assists.Johnson finished with 15 points, nine assists and four steals."We executed really well offensively in the first half. My shots came from that," Augustus said. "When we get up, we have to stay up. They did an excellent job of fighting back. We kind of let them come back."Blackmon led Baylor with 22 points, 14 in the second half. Young scored 21 and Niemann scored 15, including three second-half 3-pointers to spark the Lady Bears' comeback.Niemann's third 3 drew Baylor to 62-56 and the Lady Bears kept chipping away. Young's block set up Chameka Scott's layup that cut the lead to 69-67, and Baylor finally tied it at 69 when Scott got wide open on an inbounds play and made a layup with 1:39 remaining.Augustus answered for LSU, setting up the frantic finish.It was the second straight tough loss for Baylor. In the final game last season, Baylor lost to Tennessee 71-69 in the third round of the NCAA tournament on a controversial call with .2 seconds left."We competed our butts off, fought and clawed," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson said. "Steffanie Blackmon had incredible leadership. Am I going to walk around with a smile on my face? No. But most teams couldn't come back and literally win the ballgame."LSU appeared on its way to a rout for much of the game. Freshman Sylvia Fowles had six points and Augustus four in a 12-0 run that made it 26-12. After Young scored to end a Baylor drought of more than four minutes, LSU came back with an 11-2 burst that included six points by Augustus to stretch the lead to 37-16.It was 43-24 at halftime and LSU led 51-31 with 16:15 remaining. Then Baylor turned it on and made it a game.
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