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Johnson dishes career-best 17 assists

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- Top-ranked LSU didn't need a TV replay this
time. Seimone Augustus and Temeka Johnson were more than enough to
put away Georgia and send the Lady Tigers into the Southeastern
Conference championship game.
Augustus had 22 points and Johnson a career-high 17 assists to
lead the Lady Tigers past Georgia (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today; No. 21 AP) 79-65 on Saturday night.
LSU (29-1) won its 16th straight game and will play for the
league's automatic NCAA bid Sunday.
The Lady Tigers overcame a career-high 33 points by Georgia's
Tasha Humphrey, the SEC freshman of the year.
"Last night, I started late," Johnson said. "My intention
here was to start early."
Augustus and Johnson made sure LSU didn't have to sweat out the
ending as it did Friday against Alabama when the officials had to
consult a TV replay before changing Alabama's tying 3-pointer to a
2-point goal in the 60-59 win.
LSU coach Pokey Chatman said the Alabama game set off warning
lights about her team's execution. "We went back to the drawing
board and were able to correct some things for tonight," she said.
Indeed, LSU was much crisper at the Bi-Lo Center than the
opener.
With Johnson speeding up court and Augustus, the league's player
of the year, on the other end to finish, LSU reached its fifth
tournament final. It won the crown in 1991 and 2003.
Still, it took some time to put away the Lady Bulldogs (22-9).
Humphrey's inside basket made it 55-all with 10:54 to go and
Georgia was still within a basket, 67-65, about 5 minutes later on
Cori Chambers jumper.
Then LSU's quickness and strength took over, holding the Lady
Bulldogs scoreless in the final 5:02.
Georgia coach Andy Landers said his team had done a credible job
rebounding with LSU until the final stretch. "That's a problem,"
he said. "We had done a very good job up until then. ... That was
our undoing."
Augustus wrestled away a rebound and converted the follow shot
to extend the lead. Florence Williams added a basket and the Lady
Tigers were on their way to their fourth win in the last five games
with Georgia.
Williams had 16 points, Sylvia Fowles 12 and Johnson 10.
Landers, in his 26th season at Georgia, said he got caught
violating one of his cardinal rules -- always use man-to-man
defense. Landers kept an extra person back under the basket on
defense to help hold off Augustus and Fowles. The only problem was
that Williams hit several uncontested jumpers from the foul line.
"I sinned tonight," Landers said. "I went junk defense,
something I haven't done in 30 years. I need to get up early
tomorrow and go to church and renew my faith in man-to-man."
Johnson had 11 of her career-best assists in the opening half.
The total surpassed her mark of 15, which the senior accomplished
three times.
Humphrey led the way for Georgia, bettering her point total of
32 set last month against Kentucky. Georgia awaits the NCAA
Tournament selections on March 13 when its expected to receive its
11th straight bid.
LSU tried to put this game away early. After Scholanda Hoston
took a long pass from Johnson for an easy layup, LSU was ahead
35-23 with 1:45 left.
Humphrey, who had 19 first-half points, kept Georgia in it. She
hit two baskets and the Lady Bulldogs only 3-pointer of the half
down the stretch to trail 37-30 at the break.