BATON ROUGE -- No. 4-seed Penn State (26-6) used an 8-3 in the closing minutes to advance past the No. 5 seed LSU women's basketball team, 90-80, in the NCAA Second Round on Tuesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU (23-11) was denied a Sweet 16 berth, as head coach Nikki Caldwell's first season came to an end.
Penn State, ranked 11th by the Associated Press, advanced to face top-seeded Connecticut on Sunday in Kingston, R.I.
Trailing 76-73 with 2:17 remaining, LSU guard Bianca Lutley pulled down a defensive rebound but had the ball stripped away by Penn State's Zhaque Gray who make a layup. LSU wouldn't get any closer.
Penn State's Maggie Lucas scored a game-high 30 points on 7-of-12 shooting including five three pointers and 11-of-11 free throws. She had 19 points in the first half. Ariel Edwards had 15 and Mia Nickson added 14, as the Nittany Lions shot 44.6 percent from the field (29 of 65) and 86.2 percent from the free throw line (25 of 29).
LSU senior LaSondra Barrett overcame a slow start offensively to score 18 points and grab 12 rebounds. Lutley also had a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds with four assists. Freshman Krystal Forthan pitched in 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while Theresa Plainsance made two three pointers and had 10 points, and guard Adrienne Webb had 11 points.
The Lady Tigers fell to 0-6 on the season when allowing more than 70 points. LSU shot 37 percent from the field (27 of 73) and committed 12 of its 18 turnovers in the second half. Making 22-of-24 free throws kept LSU on or close to the lead until the final two minutes of the game.
LSU was outrebounded, 49-35, as Penn State pulled down 22 offensive rebounds.
The game didn't start how the homestanding Lady Tigers planned, as they missed their first three shots with two turnovers and fell behind, 9-0, in the opening three minutes.
However, Penn State missed its next four shots and had two turnovers of its own to allow the Lady tigers to put the lead to 9-4. Lucas made her second of five first-half three pointers to extend the Nittany Lions' lead to 12-4 with 14:03 left in the half.
The Lady Tigers used two baskets by Forthan and a jumper by Plaisance, and took their first lead on a Lutley jumper in the lane with 10:57 remaining in the half, 15-14.
The teams stayed within four points for the rest of the half, as the Lady Tigers cleaned up their early turnovers and Lucas remained hot for Penn State. LSU had only one turnover in the final 12:47 and Lucas finished with 19 points in the half.
LSU took a 37-36 lead into the lockerroom though each team was under 40 percent shooting.
The Lady Tigers pushed the lead to five, 47-42, as Barrett scored four straight in the opening minutes of the second half. Plaisance's second three pointer gave LSU its biggest lead, 50-44 with 15:22 remaining, but the Nittany Lions bounced back with six-straight to tie the game.
After Webb tied the game at 57-57 with a fast break layup for LSU, Edwards and Bentley answered with close-range baskets to give Penn State a four-point advantage, 61-57, with 8:04 left.
Coming out of the final media timeout, Edwards and Bentley each made a pair of free throws that gave Penn State its biggest lead, 73-65, with 3:25 remaining.
The Lady Tigers answered immediately with a three-point play by Lutley and a layup by Webb who stole the in-bounds pass to get within three, 73-70.
Lucas and Barrett traded three-point plays to keep within three, 76-73. But, after a missed shot, Gray came up with a steal in the backcourt to extend the advantage to five and took away the Lady Tigers' last chance to tie the game.
The announced crowd was 3,270.
NCAA Second Round Notes - Penn State 90, LSU 80
Penn State advances to Sweet 16 Sunday at Kingston, R.I.
to face No. 1 seed Connecticut at time TBA
LSU is making its 21st appearance in NCAA Tournament; 39-21 record
Penn State, in its 23rd appearance, is now 29-22
Seventh time LSU has hosted first and second round. Penn State now leads series with LSU, 4-2.
Penn State opens on a 9-0 run in 2:55 seconds while LSU misses its first three shots and turns the ball over twice, forcing an LSU timeout. LSU would score a field goal at 16:56 ... An 8-0 LSU run gives LSU a 15-14 lead, before a Lucas three quickly gives the 17-15 lead back to Penn State. Game tied at 17, 22, 26, 28 and 36. LSU gets a 37-36 lead with 22.2 seconds, their first lead since 15-14. Halftime - LSU 37, Penn State 36.
In the second half, LSU goes on a 6-0 run over a 1 minute period to take a 47-42 lead at the 15:49 mark, forcing a Penn State timeout. Penn State tied the game at 50, taking a 53-52 lead on PSU's 7th trey of the game as part of a 9-2 run. Another 8-2 run by PSU after LSU took a 55-53 lead, gave the Lady Lions a 61-57 lead at the 7:44 mark. LSU gives up 70 points at the 3:41 mark as PSU expands the lead to 73-65 on a 6-0 run. LSU cut it to 76-73 with 2:50 left. Penn State scores four straight to go up 80-73 with 1:23 left.
LSU finishes 23-11 on the year. Nikki Caldwell is now 3-3 in NCAA Tournament games. LSU is 7-3 in second round games played in Baton Rouge, 14-3 in all NCAA games in Baton Rouge.
LSU is 0-6 this season when allowing 70 or more points.
LSU is now 17-2 when leading at the half.
Barrett's eighth double double of the year. Lutley's first of the year.
Penn State Notes:
Penn State is now 26-6 on the year. 29-22 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. PSU is 10-8 in Second Round games. Penn State is now 7-3 when trailing at the half.
Lucas with her 28 points is now solo sixth on the Penn State season scoring list with (625) points.
Seventh game Lucas has made at least four three pointers (made her first four attempts) and finished with five.
Penn State's first trip to Sweet 16 since 2004.
2012 NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds
March 20, 2012
LSU POSTGAME NEW CONFERENCE QUOTES
LSU HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
"First off, I am extremely proud of this team. When you look at their journey, the seniors and the transition that they've had to make with coaches, players and things like that. For them to finish their last year the way that they did, Destini (Hughes) going down and we've had Boogie (LaSondra Barrett) in and out with injuries, but this team and the senior class really showed some great leadership. A lot of credit to Penn State for coming in and executing their game plan. We wish them well the rest of the way, but we'll be back. We've got a great underclassmen group coming back next year and a great recruiting class joining them. I am excited for the future of the seniors. Three of the five graduated early. Obviously, they have taken care of business academically. They are going to go to have bright futures."
On the half court game...
"The tempo of the game, we wanted to run when we felt we had numbers. Penn State is a very explosive team with very explosive guards. So their transition offense, we missed some key offensive assignments, and when you play a team like Penn State, they are going to make you pay for those defensive mistakes. I thought our team did a good job offensively getting the looks that we needed. I just felt that defensively we did not bring the same type of defensive intensity that we are typically known to have. That has a lot to do with Penn State's ability to spread you because they have three guards that can shoot the three ball, have a post game, a mid range game. When you are playing five players that can score the basketball, man, zone or what have you, you have to make sure that you capitalize on the stops.
On looking forward on the future and the past...
"It is going to be a challenge because we are going to lose a lot. We are going to lose a leadership in our senior class. We're going to lose their tenacious personalities away from the court, which brings our cohesion together. We're going to miss them as people and we're going to miss their joy and humor. With that being said, we have returning underclassmen that have been exposed to the senior class. The senior class has left a positive mark on them. I hope the underclassmen will work extremely hard in the offseason for them to be better this time of year. This senior class is a class that is not replaceable, nor will we try to. We are just going to try to groom everyone to be ready to go next year. The future for our basketball program is very bright."
LSU FORWARD LASONDRA BARRETT
On what happened when she left for the first half...
"It was just a hard fall, nothing else more than that. I landed pretty hard, but I just shook it off and got back out there."
On their defensive play...
"You have to give credit to Penn State. They have some amazing guards who are great shooters. They are a running team and they like to push it up and down. It is hard to find three guards who are all three shooters while you sprint back on defense too. You have to give credit to them. Some of it was missed assignments on our part, but you have to credit Penn State."
On if they felt caught off guard by the adjustments Penn State made at the half...
"No, I mean we knew their personnel very well. Like I said they have three guards that can shoot, so we knew someone would catch fire and get hot but we didn't want all three to. We were still in the game, even with Maggie's (Lucas) 19 points in the first half or whatever she had and we had the lead at halftime. It was a good adjustment by their coach to attack on the inside and exposing our post players, but that is on us. We need to play better post defense."
On the frustration of losing in the second round...
"I mean you always want to go further than the second round, but I don't look at this particular loss as a frustration to my career. I am extremely proud of our team to battle all the adversity that has been sent our way and for pulling through. To me it is a lot bigger than basketball, it is more personal with these girls because of the relationship we have and knowing that everyone's heart is in it. I don't look at my senior season being defined by a Penn State loss, I look at all of the other stuff whether it was us having to battle after Destini's (Hughes) injury or me having to play point guard or all the other personal stuff we had to go through. Those things are what I look at and those are what I will remember as highlights in my future."
LSU GUARD BIANCA LUTLEY
On coming off the bench strong...
"Well we knew this could be our last game in the PMAC win or lose and we wanted to do it real big for the seniors. Coach always tells us to be ready for our number to be called so I think everybody was prepared for that."
PENN STATE POST-GAME CONFERENCE
PENN STATE HEAD COACH COQUESE WASHINGTON
On Maggie Lucas ...
"We always come in the game, and we feel like we have a lot of weapons. The game will dictate, sometimes, how you play. We always tell the team to read the defense and take what the defense gives you. The first half, they were playing that zone, and Maggie (Lucas) was able to get free. In the second half, they played her a little tighter, which opened up some things in the inside. We went inside a little bit more, and we got going in transition a little bit more. In the first half, it just flowed Maggie's way."
On getting a feel for LSU ...
"I thought we got a pretty good feel. I thought we did a good job of dictating the pace of the game from the very beginning. I think the score was 37-37, or 39-39 at halftime. I thought that was a good sign, because it was the pace that we wanted. The game was on pace at halftime to be in the 70s and 80s. We're usually pretty good when we can score that high. It didn't take us long at all, because we dictated the pace, and it was the pace that we wanted to play."
On Alex Bentley coming out of the game ...
"Obviously, she's an incredibly fast player, and she's fast with the ball. We're not as fast when she's off the floor, but overall the pace was still the pace we wanted. We got some stops. Zhayce (Gray) led the break a couple of times. Maggie led the break a couple of times. We got some stops, and got going in transition. Ariel (Edwards) can come in a game and impact it in a lot of ways. I wasn't really worried when Alex (Bentley) got fouls because I know that we can generate offense in a lot of ways, and we still managed to do that."
PENN STATE NEWS CONFERENCE QUOTES
GUARD MAGGIE LUCAS
On her performance in each half ...
"Our team has so many weapons. When one person has a big couple of minutes the first half, it's bound that we're just going to have to start going to everyone else. Our post players took over. Nikki (Greene) and I were just inside finishing great every time. I thought Ariel Edwards came in and was so huge for us. Our team is so balanced, and everyone can impact the game in a huge way. We showed that tonight."
On scoring many points ...
"I just got my rhythm. I talked to (Coach) Coquese (Washington) before the game about having faith in the work I've put in. It was just falling for me in the first half."
On the last minutes of gameplay ...
"We just drew up our press breaker. I was just able to get my touches and then they were fouling. I just stayed patient the second half. I didn't try to force anything, because I didn't have to. My teammates were taking over, and I just got the free throws at the end.
FORWARD MIA NICKSON
On Maggie Lucas ...
"When Maggie has the ball in her hand, she's looking to create, not just for herself, but for the team as well and was able to get other players open. Then when they were worried about us, Maggie was able to capitalize on them not being worried about her."