BATON ROUGE, La. -- If Renee Montgomery wants to shoot from
several feet behind the 3-point line with the game in the balance,
Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma isn't going to say anything to
Montgomery connected from about 25 feet with 2 minutes left, and
again from a couple feet behind the 3-point line with 6.7 seconds
to go, lifting Connecticut (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today; No. 5 AP) to a 72-71 victory over No. 7 LSU on Sunday.
"We got the ball two or three feet from the basket a lot the
last 3 minutes and all we came out of there with was missed layups
and walking calls," Auriemma said. "So, if I can get a wide open
look by a kid who thinks she's going to make it, I'm OK with
Porsha Phillips hit a buzzer-beater from the top of the key,
sending the home crowd and LSU bench into a brief moment of
pandemonium before referees confirmed by looking at a TV replay
that Phillips' foot was on the line, meaning it was a two-point
shot, not a tying 3.
Then it was the women wearing blue jumping, embracing and
shouting in celebration as a hush fell over the rest of the
It wasn't just an impressive victory over another Top 10 team.
UConn became the first visiting team to win in the Pete Maravich
Assembly Center since February of 2004, snapping LSU's 43-game home
Montgomery finished with 20 points and hit five 3-pointers as
UConn (22-2) won its eighth straight. Tina Charles had 17 points
and nine rebounds for Huskies, while Kalana Greene had 15 points.
Sylvia Fowles led LSU (22-4) with 22 points and 17 rebounds.
Quianna Chaney had 16 points, including a quick-release baseline
jumper on an inbound pass that tied the score at 69 with 17.1
On LSU's final possession, guard Erica White was open on the
right wing, and Phillips, thinking White would shoot, had begun to
moved toward the basket to get into position for a rebound. When
she saw White pull back, Phillips quickly moved back to the top of
the key, but by then did not have time to check her feet. She
stepped back quickly once after catching the pass from White and
shot with a second left.
"I was really confident about the shot. I thought it was a 3,"
Phillips said. "I thought Erica was going to take the shot, but
she just passed it to me and I just shot it."
UConn was running screens on the perimeter for Montgomery, who
said Auriemma had told her during warm-ups that she had the green
light to shoot if LSU leaves her open in those situations.
"I found an opening and took it," Montgomery said.
LSU coach Pokey Chatman said her team wanted to defend
Montgomery closer on the perimeter, but White slipped on
Montgomery's last, decisive 3.
As the for longer one before that?
"The one that was shot from the radio guy's booth is difficult
to get on somebody about," Chatman said.
Chatman said the game should not have come to that anyway,
because her team had dominated early in building a 12-point
first-half lead and had an opportunity to put the Huskies in the
LSU was in the bonus late in the half, and Chatman had
instructed her squad to try to draw fouls with aggressive play
"My charge to the team was I would like to go to the free throw
line six to eight times" before the half ended, Chatman said.
"Not only did we not get to the line, but we had several hollow
possessions, lost momentum and five or six points going into the
Charles, a 6-foot-4 freshman averaging 11.9 points coming in,
halted the Huskies' early slide with a tough turnaround in the
paint over the 6-6 Fowles. Charles then scored on a putback, a pair
of free throws and another inside basket to reduce LSU's lead to
37-31 by halftime.
In the locker room, Auriemma told his squad that they were too
reliant on Charles in the opening 20 minutes.
"We tried to beat LSU with one player in the first half,"
Auriemma said. "You can't beat a good team on the road, especially
as good a team as LSU, unless three or four people are able to
contribute and I thought that's what happened in the second half."
UConn surged into the lead with an 11-0 run to open the second
half. Greene's three-point play on a putback started it and
3-pointers by Montgomery and Thomas put UConn up 42-37.
Fowles' putback and Chaney's 3 helped the Lady Tigers tie the
score at 46. But Greene's stunning reverse layup in traffic ignited
a 9-0 UConn run, and her off-balance, one-handed floater off the
glass as she was falling away from the basket put the Huskies up
Connecticut led by as much as nine points several times in the
second half, the last time on Greene's jumper that made it 60-51
with 9:23 to go.
But Fowles scored inside shortly after, igniting a 10-2 LSU run,
ending with Chaney's pull-up jumper in the paint that cut UConn's
lead to 62-61. Phillips scored 12 points for LSU and Allison
Charde Houston scored 12 points for UConn, while Mel Thomas hit
a pair of 3-pointers in the second half to give the Huskies seven
baskets from long range for the game.