Lady Tigers Stymie Alabama, Advance at SEC's
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The LSU women's basketball team entered Thursday's 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament First Round needing an important victory to boost its NCAA Tournament aspirations.
The Lady Tigers got it and did it in record-breaking fashion. LSU held Alabama to 36 points, tying for the fewest ever by a team in SEC Tournament history, and the Lady Tigers rolled onto the quarterfinals for the 13th straight season with a 60-36 blowout win over the Crimson Tide in Bridgestone Arena.
"This was a great win for us and I was proud of our team," said LSU head coach Van Chancellor. "We defended well. Alabama came in here having won four of their last five. Taylor Turnbow did a great job against (Tierney) Jenkins and had 12 rebounds. (LaSondra) Barrett and (Adrienne) Webb really gave us an offensive spark. Webb just kept plugging away. We had to win this game, no question. We brought our subs in and they played well too."
LSU (19-12) will take on second-seeded and No. 16-ranked Kentucky in the second quarterfinal at 2:30 p.m. CT Friday. The Lady Tigers have won four in a row over the Wildcats in SEC Tournament competition. The contest will be carried on Fox Sports Net South and ESPN3.com (blackout restrictions apply). The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast it on 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.
Alabama (16-14) shot only 24.1 percent from the floor -- the smallest percentage allowed by LSU in its SEC Tournament history - and the Tide lost for the 13th consecutive time to the Lady Tigers dating back to 2002. In two meetings this year, LSU outscored Alabama, 132-79.
LaSondra Barrett continued her dominance of the Tide with a game-high 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Adrienne Webb chipped in 13 points and knocked a three to move into a tie for fifth place in LSU single-season treys with 71. Taylor Turnbow grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, one shy of a career high.
"This was an important game for us," said Barrett, a first-team All-SEC member. "Our coaches told us last year's loss to Vanderbilt was the first time we have lost in the first round (in years). We took that to heart and wanted to get a win. Alabama has been playing well toward the end of the season. Our focus was on Alabama and getting a first round win. That is what we could control."
Katherine Graham added eight points and seven boards. Graham eclipsed the 500 rebound mark for her career, becoming the 25th player in school history to achieve the milestone. The senior needed three boards entering the tournament.
LSU completely shutdown Alabama from the start, forcing the Tide to miss their first 11 shots and taking a 13-0 lead nine minutes into the contest. Barrett delivered with seven of LSU's first nine points and Katherine Graham provided back-to-back layups.
Alabama finally cracked the scoreboard on a three-pointer from Shafontaye Myers with 10:17 left in the first stanza. LSU piled it on with an acrobatic jumper by Destini Hughes, a tip-in by Taylor Turnbow and another layup by Graham. The Lady Tigers led 24-5 as the Tide managed only two field goals in the first 17 minutes.
"We shut them down and controlled the first five minutes of each half," said Chancellor. "I thought that was the difference in the game."
The scoreboard read LSU 26, Alabama 9 at the half. The single-digit point total tied for the fewest allowed by the Lady Tigers in any half in school history. It was also the fewest point total by an SEC opponent in a half in school history.
LSU had surrendered nine points on three other occasions, including most recently in the 2009 season-opener against Centenary. The Lady Tigers also held McNeese State (Dec. 20, 2006) and Alabama State (Dec. 7, 2002) to nine points in a half. Alabama shot 16.0 percent in the first 20 minutes on 4-of-25 shooting.
The Tide pulled to within 16 points with 11:00 to go in the game, but LSU went on a 12-2 run over the next six minutes to put it away. Adrienne Webb made a lay-up and a baseline jumper during that span. Bianca Lutley contributed in the scoring action with seven points off the bench in the final six minutes. Senior Jasmine Nelson also got into the box score with a short jumper.
Ericka Russell led Alabama with nine points. LSU held Tierney Jenkins, a first-team All-SEC performer who ranked second in the nation in double-doubles, to seven points and six rebounds.
LSU finished at 49.0 percent from the floor on 24-of-49 shooting. The Lady Tigers dominated the boards again out-rebounding the Tide, 42-29. Alabama's 14 field goals tied for the fewest made buckets in SEC Tournament history.