6:30 PM ET, March 8, 2008
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- LSU coach Van Chancellor took his Lady Tigers to Dairy Queen after winning the regular season Southeastern Conference title.They've got one more game to play before they get another treat, though."At LSU, we don't celebrate semifinal wins. We celebrate championships," Chancellor said.LSU (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) beat Kentucky 66-49 in the SEC semifinals on Saturday night, earning their fourth consecutive trip to the conference title game to face No. 3 Tennessee.The top-seeded Lady Tigers (27-4) have played in the championship game eight times, but have only won the title twice, most recently in 2003.If earning the SEC tournament crown isn't enough, Chancellor gave his players another goal: "maybe milkshakes," he said.Sylvia Fowles had 20 points and 13 rebounds for LSU, Quianna Chaney added 18 points and Ashley Thomas had the team's second double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.Fowles acknowledged that it can be easy to get caught up in the hype of tournaments, and said she and her teammates must be focused if they want to grab that elusive tournament title."You want it real bad, but then again, you have to come down and make sure you come out in the right now," the senior said. "I know for me personally, I've always gotten overhyped. I've had to learn to calm down and let the game come to me."Even though LSU will serve as the home team in the championship game as the top-seeded team, the Lady Tigers are playing in the state of Tennessee and the stands will be filled with orange.Chancellor isn't worried about that."Last time I checked the basket was 10 feet high. If we can put it in, we're going to win," he said.Fourth-seeded Kentucky (15-15) was looking to break a 13-game losing skid to LSU after nearly upsetting the Lady Tigers in February.The Wildcats also were looking to make only their second trip to the title game. Their lone trip came in 1982, when they upset a 17th-ranked LSU and went on to win the championship."We were up against a very good opponent," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It was not a lack of effort."Samantha Mahoney led Kentucky scoring with 17 points, and Sarah Elliott added 12.After entering halftime with a 37-26 lead, LSU had little problem pulling away from Kentucky.The Lady Tigers pushed their lead all the way to 19 points on a jumper by Allison Hightower, giving LSU a 55-36 lead with 7:46 left.A small but vocal contingent of fans clad in purple and gold shouted "LSU, LSU," as the clock wound down.Kentucky cut LSU's first half lead to 21-18 on a free throw by Eleia Roddy.The Lady Tigers scored the next seven points, grabbing a 28-18 lead on a Chaney jumper with 3:41 before halftime.A few minutes later, Amani Franklin fouled Chaney as she shot from the 3-point line, and Chaney sank all three free throws to push the lead to 37-24 with 1:17 before the break.Three LSU players had already reached double-figure scoring by halftime, thanks to 45.8 percent shooting. Fowles had 14 points and Chaney and Thomas had 10 each.Kentucky struggled with its shots, missing 22 of its 31 first half field goals and missing six of 11 attempts from the charity stripe.The Wildcats' 31.1 shooting percentage was their second worst of the season."Our mind-set was to play hard, and I think that we did, we just didn't get the outcome that we wanted," Elliott said.
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||19-61 (.311)||25-51 (.490)|
|3P Made-Attempted||3-9 (.333)||1-6 (.167)|
|FT Made-Attempted||8-20 (.400)||15-22 (.682)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (0/0)||14 (0/0)|