SPOKANE, Wash. – No. 2 seed California separated a close game in the second half with a 12-1 run and got a game-high 19 points from Layshia Clarendon as the sixth-seeded LSU women’s basketball team saw its NCAA Tournament run come to an end in the Spokane regional semifinal by a score of 73-63 late Saturday night in Spokane Arena.
The Lady Tigers concluded a magnificent season with a 22-12 record. Despite a roster of only eight players down the stretch, LSU advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 2008 and more importantly brought the program back to national prominence. When the final polls are released, they will surely be ranked. They return the majority of this squad next year plus a top-20 recruiting class led by top-20 high school player Raigyne Moncrief.
“I’m extremely proud of this team,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “We have battled and we have hit adversity and we have been challenged. These young ladies came together and decided to fight, fight for one another and they put LSU back on the map as a dominant program.”
California (31-3) advanced to its first Elite Eight and will face No. 4 seed Georgia, who stunned top-seeded Stanford, 61-59, in the first semifinal. The regional final will be played at 8:30 p.m. CT Monday. The winner of that contest earns a berth in the Final Four next week in New Orleans.
Senior guard Adrienne Webb concluded a brilliant career with 15 points in her final game. Webb finished as the 17th all-time leading scorer in LSU history with 1,370 points and she went down fifth in LSU career threes with 168.
“It stings, but I have had one great career at LSU,” said Webb. “We have really fought through everything, through injuries and through numbers. We have really dug deep and believed in each other and pulled through. I really couldn’t ask for a better group of players and coaches to have for this last senior season.”
“She’s left her mark on this program,” added Caldwell. “She definitely has been a player that has represented the purple and gold not only on the basketball court but within the community and classroom. You couldn’t ask for a better student-athlete to be a part of your program than Adrienne Webb.”
Junior forward Theresa Plaisance registered her eighth double-double of the year with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Meanwhile Bianca Lutley grabbed eight rebounds to go along with five points in her final game. Freshman Danielle Ballard added 14 points. With her early steal in the first half, Ballard became the first LSU basketball player – men or women – to record 100 steals in a season.
With the game tied at 38 apiece and 12:32 to play, Clarendon buried a tough running jumper. Ballard answered with a layup in transition but Mikayla Miles fired in a three from the corner as the shot clock expired. Ballard’s layup cut it to 48-43 but the Lady Tigers then missed nine consecutive shots from the floor, going scoreless from the field for six minutes.
Cal capitalized on the LSU drought at the free throw line, burying 26-of-41 for the game to LSU’s 10-of-13. The Golden Bears also did a great job in transition off 16 LSU turnovers that resulted in 21 points.
LSU ended up out-shooting Cal 38.8 percent to 37.9 percent. Gennifer Brandon finished with 17 points and a game-high 13 boards for the Bears.
Saturday’s meeting was just the second between the two teams and the first since 1981. The Lady Tigers saw a seven-game winning streak to Pac-12 teams come to an end and also a seven-game winning streak in regional finals snap.