BATON ROUGE -- After trailing by six with 10 minutes to play, the LSU women's basketball team went on a 16-2 run to get past San Diego State, 64-56, in the first round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Sunday evening at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
During the eight-minute span, LSU (23-10) held the Aztecs to 0-of-8 shooting and 2-of-9 from the free throw line to survive.
The Lady Tigers advanced to face No. 4 seed Penn State, a 85-77 winner over No. 13 seed UTEP, in Tuesday's second round at the PMAC.
San Diego State (25-7), which made only three field goals in the final 10 minutes, saw its season end in a physical game that included 41 fouls. It was free throw shooting that was the difference, as the Lady Tigers had a 26-7 advantage at the line.
LSU shot 38.8 percent from the field, but made 26-of-35 free throws (74.3 percent) including 22-of-28 in the second half.
San Diego State guard Courtney Clements led her team with 17 points, while point guard Chelsea Hopkins had 16. The Aztecs shot 40 percent from the field (22 of 55) but made only 7-of-20 free throws.
The game was tied at 27-27 at halftime before San Diego State opened a 43-36 lead with 12 minutes left.
LSU Head Coach Nikki Caldwell
Opening statement ...
"First off, Coach Burns and her team, San Diego State, did an unbelievable job of coming here and really executing their game plan, exploiting us of the dribble drive. I thought their guard play was extremely strong for them, but I'm very proud of our team for coming out with a win. When you play this time of year you need players to make big-time plays for you. When we were down by seven, I really felt we got some great energy off our bench, but more importantly the three young ladies to the left of me (LaSondra Barrett, Courtney Jones and Jeanne Kenney) made some big-time plays for us. I can't say enough of how proud I am of this group for staying true to the game plan and coming out with a victory."
On the team's toughness ...
"Obviously injuries are something that you cannot control, nor do we practice making them tougher. I think it's just who they are as people. The staff before us did a great job of putting together this team. They're tough kids. Jeanne Kenney got popped pretty good unintentionally, and you weren't going to keep her off the floor. LaSondra Barrett sustained a concussion and she gradually got herself back in a clean bill of health. To me they don't show softness, and that's how we play the game. We play very tough on the defensive and rebounding sides of the ball because that's who (we) are as people."
On executing inside ...
"Our game plan initially was to pound the ball inside. We got some great looks we just missed a lot of layups and a lot of paint points. San Diego State did a great job of really disrupting the basketball, so we went to some pressure release to try to give Jeanne (Kenney) and Bianca (Lutley) some looks there. We also moved Boogie (LaSondra Barrett) to the point, and I thought that helped change up the look a little bit as well."
GUARD JEANNE KENNEY
On support from fans ...
"Definitely, being on our home court is a real advantage. We have the best fans in the world. They cheer us on. Win or lose, they'll be there for us. I thought they were our sixth man on the court today. We thank them for all their support and hope they come out Tuesday, too."
On her first NCAA win ...
"Being in the NCAA Tournament for the first time is definitely a wonderful experience. For me personally, this game was just a home game to me. It's important to take it day by day and hopefully we'll get this win Tuesday, and we'll be on our way."
FORWARD LASONDRA BARRETT
On continuing to compete ...
"I thought we started out great at the beginning in keeping our intensity. We got an early lead. They made adjustments, and they're a good team. They have pretty good players, and they made some big shots. I think what made the difference is that we didn't give up. The fans were a big part, and the crowd was into the game. Having them on our back and having big plays come off the bench from certain people was great. I think we just stuck at it."
FORWARD COURTNEY JONES
On LSU ...
"I think everybody gave what they had tonight, especially our bench. When they made their run, we made sure that we didn't give up. We refocused and we listened to our coaches about relying on our defense and getting the ball in the paint and making layups. First half, we really weren't making any, so we just had to calm down and relax."
NCAA First Round Game 2 Notes - LSU 64, San Diego State 56
LSU advances to Second Round Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. vs. Penn State
San Diego State's ninth NCAA appearance; LSU is making its 21st appearance in NCAA Tournament; 39-20 record.
All-Time Series: LSU now leads 1-0
Seventh time LSU has hosted first and second round
LSU jumped out to a 17-9 advantage with 11:29 to play, but San Diego State went on a 18-5 run to take a 27-22 advantage ... The last part of that run was 9-0 in favor of San Diego State ... LSU closed the half on a 5-0 run over the final 3:12 with Kenney's three with 36 seconds left tying the game at the half, 27-27.
In the second half, San Diego State broke a 29-29 tie and scored seven straight to go up 36-29 with 17:10 to play ... The lead remained at 7 through 37-30 and 39-32, before LSU cut the game to three at 39-36 ... The Tigers would eventually go on a 10-0 run over a 5:14 period that gave the Tigers the lead at 51-47 forcing a SDS timeout with 4:31 to play. The run would expand to 12-0 and 53-47 by the final media timeout at 3:40 and 14-0 at 55-47 at the 2:36 mark. A layup by Hopkins with 10:04 to play had given SDSU a 47-41 advantage and was their last field goal until the 3:16 mark.
San Diego State Notes:
San Diego State is 25-7; San Diego State was just 7-20 at the free throw line, 5-15 in the second half.
LSU is 23-10
Turnbow becomes fifth player in school history to block at least 100 shots in a career. Ties DeTrina White for fourth place in LSU career records.
LSU with the win has advanced to the second round in each of its last 13 tournament appearances.
Barrett made double digit free throws for the fifth time this season.