DePaul 56

(27-7, 11-5 Big East)

LSU 66

(30-3, 14-1 SEC)

    12:00 PM ET, March 25, 2006

    AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

    1 2 T
    DEP 31 2556
    LSU 31 3566

    Top Performers

    DePaul: J. Rubino 15 Pts, 1 Reb

    LSU: S. Augustus 18 Pts, 6 Reb

    LSU pulls away despite Augustus injury

    SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- When reigning player of the year Seimone Augustus fell to the floor clutching her lower left leg, LSU's national title hopes looked to be in trouble.

    She was helped off the court in the final minutes of a 66-56 victory over DePaul in the San Antonio Regional semifinals Saturday, but later returned although she was gimpy and grimacing.

    Augustus insisted it was only a cramp.

    "I'm fine," she said.

    And so is LSU for now.

    The Lady Tigers reeled off 12 straight points in the second half -- six from Augustus -- and kept up their great defense to pull away from the Blue Demons.

    Augustus finished with 18 points and Sylvia Fowles had 13 points and 19 rebounds to help send top-seeded LSU (30-3) into the regional final for the fourth straight year. The Lady Tigers will try making it three straight Final Fours when they play Monday night against Stanford.

    LSU used its athleticism to shut out the transition game that made No. 4 seed DePaul (27-7) one of the nation's highest-scoring teams, then broke open a tight game by working out some first-half kinks in its offense.

    "I thought the biggest difference was the fact we were able to defend the basketball at the highest level," coach Pokey Chatman said.

    The big run early in the second half -- which began with DePaul leading 33-31 -- put the Lady Tigers up by at least 10 the rest of the way, nailing down a second straight 30-win season.

    "I think a lot of times we got caught standing in the paint, so there wasn't a lot of opportunity for the perimeter players to drive," said Augustus, who leads the nation in scoring. "Once we spaced the court and screened and cut -- do the things we do -- it was difficult for them to keep up."

    Augustus went down on a drive to the basket with about 1:43 left. She immediately grabbed her left ankle and was on the ground for several minutes, then needed help getting to the bench before returning. Luckily for the Lady Tigers, they had already put the game out of reach.

    The Blue Demons scored their fewest points in two months and second-fewest of the season, while shooting only 32 percent. They also didn't make it to the foul line until there was 1:06 left. With only two free throws, they became the 10th team in the NCAA Tournament's 25-year history to have fewer than three attempts.

    "Basketball is a game of easy baskets ... and we had no place to go for easy baskets," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said.

    Erica White and Scholanda Hoston each scored 12 points for the Lady Tigers. Ashley Thomas added 11. Fowles' 19 rebounds were a school record for an NCAA Tournament game.

    Jenna Rubino led the Blue Demons with 15 points, all on 3-pointers. She was 5-of-9 behind the arc and 5-of-13 overall. Khara Smith, the school's career leader in rebounds and No. 2 on the scoring list, had 13 points (on 6-of-20 shooting) and a career-best 20 rebounds.

    Caprice Smith was 5-of-15 for 11 points and Allie Quigley, the team's second-leading scorer this season, was 2-of-11 for seven points.

    Despite their problems, the Blue Demons overcame an early seven-point deficit to tie the game at halftime. They went ahead by opening the second half with Quigley's first basket.

    After Thomas answered for the Lady Tigers, Augustus picked off a pass near midcourt and dribbled for the go-ahead points. It came off the backboard too hard and DePaul grabbed the rebound and another chance to grab the lead.

    But the Blue Demons already were crumbling.

    DePaul went about six minutes without a basket, turning the ball over four times and missing six shots along the way. Two misses were blocked, one was an air ball and another -- a 3-pointer heaved to beat the shot clock -- banged the backboard about a ball's width away from the rim.

    "We were able to hang for a half, then got stuck on 33 for a long, long time," Bruno said. "I thought we were never going to get off it."

    Despite the disappointment, DePaul heads back to Chicago knowing it had a memorable season. The Blue Demons tied the school record for victories and reached the regional semifinals for the first time, all while playing their first season in the Big East.

    Khara Smith will be leaving, but she expects the program to continue its rise.

    "Everyone needs to take this as a learning experience and run with it," said Smith, the daughter of former NBA player Ken Norman. "Everyone needs to go to work and improve on what they can, help each other get better and get better for themselves."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 56 66
    FG Made-Attempted 23-72 (.319) 24-53 (.453)
    3P Made-Attempted 8-28 (.286) 2-5 (.400)
    FT Made-Attempted 2-2 (1.000) 16-24 (.667)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 8 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 2 20

    Game Leaders

    PointsJ. Rubino 15S. Augustus 18
    ReboundsK. Smith 17S. Fowles 18


    » Mar 25, 2006 @LSU 66, DEP 56Recap | Box Score