Hightower Burns Phoenix for 26; Lady Tigers Advance
LSU Sports Interactive
BATON ROUGE -- The sixth-seeded LSU women’s basketball team snapped 11th-seeeded Green Bay’s 21-game winning streak with a 69-59 win in the opening game of NCAA Tournament play at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Sunday night.
In the second round, the Lady Tigers will face third-seeded Louisville Cardinals, a 62-42 winner over 14th-seeded Liberty.
The win improves LSU’s record to 19-10 on the season and marks the 11th consecutive year that the Lady Tigers have advanced to the second round of the tournament. Additionally, LSU has won 12-straight NCAA Tournament games played on their home court.
Phoenix finished its season with a 29-4 record and now owns a 2-10 record in NCAA tournament play.
Junior Allison Hightower led the way for the Lady Tigers by posting a career-high 26 points. The SEC All-Defensive selection also excelled on the other end of the court as she collected three steals.
LSU senior Kristen Morris posted a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds, including 10 boards in the first half. Freshman LaSondra Barrett had a strong performance in her first NCAA tournament game as she notched 13 points and seven boards.
LSU was 22-of-44 from the field, and made 23-of-34 free throws. Green Bay was 18-of-47 shooting (38.3 percent).
Senior Kati Harty highlighted Green Bay’s performance with 17 points while hitting seven of her 12 shots including there treys.
Hightower scored 13 of LSU’s first 17 points as the Lady Tigers led 17-11 midway through the first half. Green Bay sophomore Celeste Hoewisch hit a jumper and a free throw to cut the deficit to 17-14 but that would be the closest Phoenix would get.
LSU stiff defense forced eight turnovers and limited Green Bay’s field goal percentage to 35 percent (7-20) in the first half as the Lady Tigers went in the locker room with a 35-25 advantage.
The Lady Tigers opened the second half on a 15-5 run to push their lead to 50-30 with 12 minutes remaining in the game. As LSU cooled, the Phoenix started to gain momentum by cutting the lead to 11, 56-45, at the six-minute mark. Green Bay’s late run was too little too late as the Lady Tigers sustained their home court advantage to advance to the second round with a 69-59 victory.
LSU POSTGAME NOTES
- Allison Hightower scored a career-high 26 points, eclipsing her previous best of 23 versus Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament on March 6. She had 20 points in the first half. Hightower has reached the 20-point mark six times this season and six for her career.
- Five LSU players – Allison Hightower, Kristen Morris, LaSondra Barrett, Katherine Graham and Latear Eason – each made their first career NCAA Tournament starts.
- Kristen Morris grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds. Her previous career high was 10 on two previous occasions and most recently at Kentucky on Jan. 25 earlier this season.
- Morris registered her second career double-double and first of the season with her 16 rebounds and 13 points tonight.
- Morris’ 16 rebounds are the most by an LSU player this season and the most since Sylvia Fowles had 20 boards against Tennessee in the 2008 Final Four. Fowles holds the school record for rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game.
- Allison Hightower became the second LSU player this season to reach the 20-point mark in a half with her 20 in the first half tonight. Andrea Kelly poured in 23 points at Mississippi State on Feb. 8 earlier this season.
- Head coach Van Chancellor won his 50th game at LSU tonight. He is also now 11 wins shy of 500 career victories.
- LSU won its 12th straight NCAA Tournament first round game. The Lady Tigers have not lost a first round contest since 1990.
- LSU also captured its 12th consecutive NCAA Tournament game played in the Maravich Center. The Lady Tigers are now 13-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games played on their home floor.
LSU vs. UW-Green Bay
NCAA Tournament First Round
March 22, 2009
LSU HEAD COACH VAN CHANCELLOR
“First of all, it was a great win for us. We made it a little more exciting at the end than I wanted to. I thought Kristen Morris was outstanding. She had 16 rebounds and 13 points. What a way to play. (LaSondra) Barrett had 13 points and seven rebounds and I thought it was a quiet game for her tonight, but it was still 13 and seven. (Allison) Hightower was just unbelievable. I said she had been just carrying us on her back. What I should have done instead of putting in four subs is left in the starters and taken out Hightower. That was a pretty bad coaching move. I thought she could gut me out two more minutes, but she couldn’t. She scored 26 points, only turned the ball over one time and had four rebounds. She was 8-for-13 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free throw line. She’ll be ready to play on Tuesday. Nobody at this podium will answer a question about the next game, by the way.
“Green Bay had a lot of fight about them. They played really hard today. They never gave up. We had them by 19 or 20 and they never gave in. (Green Bay F Kayla Tetschlag) I’d hate to pronounce her name every day, but I thought she was outstanding. She made some things happen out there today.”
On how far this team has come...
“We were sitting on the bench about an hour before the game and thinking about how much we were enjoying being here and that we weren’t sitting over there on the first row watching other teams play here. This team has turned it around and won a game. I don’t want you ever to think that I’m not tickled with this team. I am tickled with this team. This is a great job to win a game (in the NCAA tournament). We’re starting four players that have never played in one of these games. They’ve watched it, but haven’t played.”
On if he spoke to G Allison Hightower about not putting too much pressure on herself...
“I think I forgot that after she started playing so well. In the last game of the SEC tournament I called her over, but once she made the first five baskets I thought the best coaching would be no coaching. I think one thing coaches do sometimes is over-coach. I wanted to make sure I didn’t bother her. She just really did a great job.”
Guard Allison Hightower
On scoring a career-high 26 points ...
“I just wanted to stay aggressive on offense. I was making some good reads. My teammates set me some great screens to get me open. It was just a total team effort. I wasn’t trying to do anything that I haven’t been doing. The shots just went in. I kept driving to the basket and wanted to keep that up and get to the free throw line.”
On starting her first career NCAA Tournament game ...
“We had a little bit of nerves in us at the beginning of the game missing some wide open layups, but everybody just got into the flow, settled down and started to play. We got the first game out of the way, and I am glad we got our first NCAA Tournament victory. Now it is time to get ready for round two.”
On giving it all on both ends of the floor ...
“I just try to go out and play hard. You have to treat every game like it is your last because it might just be your last game come tournament play. On defense, we locked in and tried to shut down their 3-point shooters. You have to give it your all on both ends of the floor.”
LSU F KRISTEN MORRIS
On Green Bay’s comeback in the last five minutes and how they handled the pressure...
“I thought it was important that we stuck together. I thought they were going to make a run at the end of the game. I spoke to you guys earlier and I had spoken to my friend and she told me that they didn’t stop playing until the final whistle. When you have a lead and you’re playing a team that shoot as well as they do there is always a chance for a comeback.”
On her second-half performance...
“I think Allison did an excellent job. They were trying to guard her one-on-one and that wasn’t the best idea. She did a great job in transition and got other players involved, as well. In the second half, I don’t think they necessarily took her out of the game. I think her body probably slowed her down a little bit. (LaSondra Barrett) and I and the rest of the guards knew we had to step up at that point because they did what teams always do by trying to take Hightower out of the game.”
On having such a good night in an important game...
“I took it personal because Green Bay came in here thinking that we were taking them for granted and I wanted to make a statement that we don’t take any of our opponents for granted. Unfortunately, I think they came in here not knowing who we were. I wanted to make a statement for myself and make sure that my teammates got involved and make sure that we don’t play into the hands of the number-one defense in the nation.”
LSU F LASONDRA BARRETT
On Green Bay’s comeback in the last five minutes and how they handled the pressure...
“There was just a point where we needed to just get stops. We had to stop fouling and putting them on the line with a chance to get points. We got the win though, and that’s more important.”
Green Bay Head Coach Matt Bollant
“I guess I’m just incredibly proud of our team and the fight that we had throughout the year—to win 21 games going into the tournament and come out today and show the resilience and the fight. Obviously, we’re disappointed with the result and how we defended at times. Give LSU a lot of credit. Earlier today, our radio guy asked me to compare (Allison) Hightower to someone in our league, and I kind of hesitated for awhile, thinking that there is no one in our league like her. She’s special, and she was really special tonight. I thought she was a difference-maker. The three she hit in the first half when we defended so well and it came down to one second left on the shot clock. That’s something we talked a lot about, the fact that she’s not a great three-point shooter. We have to play her off the dribble and keep her in front, but for her to make two threes early and to play with that kind of confidence I thought was a difference-maker tonight.
“I’m proud of Kati (Harty) and the way she fought in the second half and Kayla (Tetschlag) in the first half. This senior class goes out as the winningest in school history and what they’ve done, to go 29-4 this year. They went 51-1 in the last three years in our conference, so they’ve accomplished a lot. They’ve done a lot for Green Bay, and as a head coach, I’m just thankful for having four great seniors and what they’ve done for our program.”
On the emotions of the seniors...
“I think they really believed that we could come in here and compete well and have a chance to win. When you win 21-straight (games), you expect to win, and we prepared so well throughout the week and came in with confidence. I think LSU did some things in the first half that were really good. Obviously Hightower and her first half, and even the second half, put us on our heels a little bit and just the physicality of LSU. We knew that coming in, just how physically gifted, strong and athletic they were. We were hoping to neutralize that, and I think we did on the boards, but we didn’t always off the penetration. A couple of times I felt like we played great defense, and Hightower just kind of elevated over us and made shots. I’m not sure we had an answer for her jumping over us when we were in the right position. Give her a lot of credit, and give LSU a lot of credit for coming ready to play and playing great as a team.”
On the adjustments made in the second half...
“I think we just got a little bit more of the fight that we’ve had in us, and that’s what we said at halftime. We’ve got to show the fight. We have to come out there and dictate and get after it. I thought we opened up the floor a little bit running some set plays and just trying to open up the floor so we could penetrate and just that difference. I thought Kati had a toughness in the second half, and we got by a little more off the dribble and got to the foul line. I wish we could have done that a little more in the first half and just been a little bit more aggressive with what we were doing. We talked a lot about it, but I think part of that was LSU taking some things away from us early, and we really didn’t get aggressive offensively until the last 10 minutes.”
Green Bay Forward Kayla Tetschlag
On playing well in the second half to get back in the game...
“I think we really battled. I think we were down a little bit at halftime, and our coaches challenged us, and I’m looking at 34-34. We played even with them in the second half. We really made it a game. Obviously, we had some missed opportunities. I’m looking at 10 missed free throws. That kind of made a difference, but I’m proud of our team and the way we battled. We weren’t scared to come down and take on LSU on their home court. I’m proud that we stepped in with confidence and did our best and stuck together.”
On the senior class...
“We had four absolutely great role models on and off the court. They’ve just taught us so much, and our coaches kind of mentioned this in the locker room. They’ve showed us how hard we’ll have to work to get back here. Coming from little Green Bay, Wis., and we’ve made it a long way, and they’ve proven that it’s doable and that we can continue to do it year-in and year-out if we work hard. We thank them for that.”
Green Bay Locker Room Quotes
Forward Erin Templin quotes
On being a senior leader on the team ...
“I’m just proud of the girls, and I really want them to take into consideration all the effort the seniors put forth and to use that for next year and get them motivated.”
On LSU ...
“They are a really good team, and give credit to them because they played a great game. We gave it all we could and they just came out and had a great game.”
Forward Rachel Porath quotes
On being a senior on this team ...
“I am proud of this program and proud of the seniors. That’s all I have to say right now.”
On playing against LSU ...
“They are a tough team. I thought we played well, and I thought we fought. We do not have anything to be disappointed about because we played our hearts out.”