LSU headed back to the Final Four

Duke gives the Tigers their first real challenge before bowing out 59-49.

By wire services
Published March 29, 2005

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - LSU was finally picking on someone its own size, and it looked at first like the top-seeded Tigers had gone soft from feasting on lesser opponents.

But not even Duke could long withstand All-American Seimone Augustus and LSU's furious defense. The top-seeded Tigers are going to a second straight Final Four after beating the second-seeded Blue Devils 59-49 Monday night in the Chattanooga Region final.

LSU was down early but tied it at halftime, went ahead in the opening minutes of the second half and never trailed again.

The Tigers (33-2) face Baylor (31-3) in the national semifinals Sunday in Indianapolis.

Augustus finished with 22 points and Sylvia Fowles added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

LSU beat its first three opponents in the tournament by an average of 36 points, but the competition was much tougher Monday.

The Blue Devils (31-5) had a good game plan to go inside and take advantage of their bigger posts, and it worked early. Duke was ahead by as many as 12 in the first half, putting the Tigers in their biggest deficit of the season.

Then LSU turned up its defensive pressure, tipping passes and blocking shots. Fowles, a 6-foot-5 freshman, helped the Tigers outrebound Duke 42-27.

The Tigers went down 12 when Alison Bales made a basket with 8:14 left in the first half.

LSU trimmed the lead, then took control, using three straight takeaways to finish the half on an 8-0 run and tie it at 30.

Duke could not regain the intensity it had at the beginning. The Blue Devils got as close as two with 13:40 left but couldn't stop LSU.

Duke's All-American Monique Currie, who hasn't decided whether she is returning for her senior season, finished with 11 points. Mistie Williams added 15.