7:00 PM ET, March 5, 2005
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||26-58 (.448)||32-65 (.492)|
|3P Made-Attempted||4-18 (.222)||0-2 (.000)|
|FT Made-Attempted||9-12 (.750)||15-19 (.789)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||11 (0/0)|