SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The top-seeded LSU women's basketball team used a 26-4 in the first 10 minutes of the second half to storm past DePaul and into the NCAA Regional Final on Saturday, 66-56, in the AT&T Center.
LSU (30-3) will face No. 3-seeded Stanford, the winner of Saturday's other regional semifinal in San Antonio, 88-74, over No. 2-seeded Oklahoma. The Elite 8 game will be held on Monday at 8 p.m. CT.
Seimone Augustus led all five Lady Tigers' starters in double figures scoring with 19, while center Sylvia Fowles had 13 points and 19 rebounds, a school record in tournament play. The sophomore center finished 6-of-11 shooting with four blocked shots and four steals.
LSU overcame 16 turnovers by forcing 18 by DePaul, while hitting 24-of-56 shots for 42.9 percent.
Forward Ashley Thomas again came up big for LSU with 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. Point guard Erica White was only 2-of-3 shooting but made 8-of-10 free throws to finish with 12 points in 33 minutes.
DePaul, making its first trip to the regional semifinal in school history, saw its season end at 27-7 overall. After making 5-of-10 three pointers in the first half, the Blue Demons made only 3-of-16 in the second half. DePaul was 23 of 72 from the floor for 31.9 percent.
Khara Smith led DePaul with 13 points and 20 rebounds in 34 minutes of play, while Jenna Rubino had five three pointers and finished with 15 points. Caprice Smith was the only other Blue Demon in double figures scoring with 11.
LSU outscored DePaul in the paint, 38-22, and allowed only two free throw attempts by the Blue Demons -- a school record low.
The Lady Tigers advanced to the regional final for the third-straight season and the fifth time in school history. LSU was in the Women's Final Four for the past three seasons.
LSU led by as many as seven in the first half before the team entered the lockerroom tied, 31-31.
The Blue Demons relied on the three pointer in the first half to take an early lead and keep pace the rest of the half. DePaul made 5-of-10 from behind the arc despite 38-percent shooting (13 of 34).
A three-point play by Augustus with 14:36 left in the half gave the Lady Tigers a 13-11 lead that that they held until the final three minutes of the half.
LSU was unfortunate when Khara Smith grabbed an offensive rebound after the Lady Tigers a blocked shot. She made an uncontested layup to give the Blue Demons a 31-29 lead with two minutes to play.
Erica White made two free throws in the final minute to tie the game at 31-31. The Lady Tigers shot 43.3 percent in the half (13 of 30), but committed nine turnovers.
DePaul scored the first basket of the second half, but the Lady Tigers quickly responded with a 12-0 over a span of 5:47 that was capped by a pair of free throws by Hoston.
LSU led 45-33.
The Lady Tigers' run didn't stop there. After DePaul hit scored twice in the paint, Augustus scored five of LSU's next nine points to extend the advantage to 57-37 with 9:16 to play.
Thomas, who often finds herself unguarded as the Blue Demons doubled Augustus and Fowles, drove to the goal from the top of the key and converted a three-point play to put LSU up by 20.
After a jumper by Rachael Carney with 8:38 to play closed the gap to 57-42, LSU held DePaul scoreless for 5:14 before the Blue Demons rattled off five straight to get within 10, 60-50.
DePaul would get no closer.
The Lady Tigers notched their 30th win for the third time in four seasons.
Regional Semifinal Game #1
No. 4 DePaul vs. No. 1 LSU
DePaul finished the contest with only two free throw attempts (2 for 2 – Allie Quigley with 1:06 remaining) becoming just the 10th team in NCAA women's basketball postseason history to take fewer than three trips to the line. DePaul also is the only team besides Villanova to twice make the list of fewest free throws attempted. The Blue Demons also shot just two free throws against Duke in a first round game on March 14, 1997. The two free throw attempts mark a tournament record vs. LSU and is the lowest number of attempts by DePaul this season (previous is 3 for 6 against South Florida on Dec. 7).
LSU outscored DePaul 29-11 during the first 11:50 of the second half. DePaul suffered scoring droughts of 4:47 and 5:48 during the second half.
LSU's Seimone Augustus moved ahead of Baylor's Sophia Young (at least until Baylor plays later today) to take the top spot on the NCAA record list for double-figure scoring games with 18 points. Today's contest marked the 95th consecutive double-figure scoring game for Augustus. She has reached double figures in points in 130 of 138 career contests.
LSU's Sylvia Fowles moved into a tie for third place in the LSU career record books for double-doubles with 34 double-doubles in 69 games. Fowles had a double-double at halftime with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
DePaul forward Khara Smith's career high 20 rebounds ties her with seven other players for the fifth spot in the all-time tournament records list. Cheryl Taylor holds the single game rebounding record with 23. LSU's Sylvia Fowles finished the game just one rebound shy of breaking into the NCAA Tournament records list for rebounds in a single game.
Fowles' 19 boards marked a new NCAA tournament record for LSU.
All fifteen of DePaul guard Jenna Rubino's points came from beyond the arc, tying a career high.
Khara Smith finishes her collegiate career with 2,241 points, 1,369 rebounds and 77 double-doubles. The contest marked her 19th career game with 15+ rebounds.
DePaul has hit at least one trey in 42 consecutive contests. The Blue Demons enjoyed 5 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half, but fell to a paltry 18.8 percent with just 3 of 16 falling in the second half. LSU attempted only five three-pointers all game.
LSU is now 10-2 in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed. Their last tournament loss as the top-seeded team came on April 3, 2005 against eventual national champion Baylor. Their only other loss as the top-seeded squad was against Texas on April 1, 2003.
The Tigers played two previous tournament games in the state of Texas, falling to Stephen F. Austin on March 16, 1988 in the first round in Nacogdoches, Texas, and dropping a second round contest to Lamar on March 17, 1991 in Beaumont, Texas. Today's win over DePaul marks the squad's first tournament win in the state of Texas.
LSU's Seimone Augustus passed Temeka Johnson for most career post-season games as a Tiger with 17.
DePaul's 26 three-point attempts were the most attempted against LSU in an NCAA Tournament contest.
Eight team fouls by LSU was the fewest committed by the Tigers in an NCAA Tournament game. The eight personal fouls also moves the Tigers into the NCAA record books for fewest fouls in a tournament game, tying LSU with 13 other teams for the fifth fewest. St. Francis holds the overall record with four against Villanova on March 23, 2003.
LSU Post-Game Quotes, Saturday, March 25, 2006
Head Coach Pokey Chatman
"I thought the difference in today's game was the fact that we were able to defend the basketball at the highest level. I felt pretty good holding DePaul to thirty-one points at the half. I think overall the game was decided by defensive effort, especially taking away transition baskets."
Was there anything different in your approach to the game, being one of your best performances
Sylvia Fowles, So., C
"There was anything different. I just went out there a little more focused."
Insight to halftime speech that led to the run in the second half
Seimone Augustus, Sr., G
"There was not a lot of yelling and stuff like that. It was mainly a lot of talking, we understand what we did right and what we did wrong, and what we need to do to in order to come back out and do."
"She (Coach Chatman) came in and talked to us like young women, and we take to that. I think we can of take to the talking instead of yelling. It's kind of intimidating when a coach yells at you. We understand what we did wrong and what we needed to do in the second half."
What did you feel like you needed to do offensively in the second half
Seimone Augustus, Sr., G
"Mainly screening and cutting. A lot of times we got caught throwing it in the paint, bogging up the paint and there wasn't a lot of opportunities for the perimeter players to drive."
Taking it upon yourselves to provide leadership as seniors
Scholanda Hoston, Sr., G
"Everyone on the team is mature enough and basketball smart enough to know what we did wrong and what we did right, and that we need to go out there and play."
Seimone Augustus, Sr., G
"I think every team in America feels the same way. You are going to do whatever it takes to go out on the greatest note possible. Our team feeds off us, the younger players, they look to us."
How much did team speed make a difference in the game
Head coach Pokey Chatman
"I think it made a difference all year. It allows you to be very aggressive on the basketball, try to get your hands on the ball, protect the ball."
Picks and screens
"We just emphasized it. We practiced it all year long. I thought Seimone quick coming off her screens, I think it was just a matter of refocusing."
Teams ability to steal the ball
"We really made an emphasis on deflections. A deflection buys you a half a second, which gets you around on post defense, deflections disrupts the offense."
Speak to the leadership of your seniors in second half
"You look at Scholanda (Hoston), she's been our defensive stopper ever since she stepped on campus."
Address you potential opponents in Oklahoma or Stanford
"It is going to be a war out there. They match up so well, from their coaches down to their players, to their assistants."
Regional Semifinal Quotes - DePaul
Head Coach Doug Bruno
"I'm not saying we're not happy to be here, but that doesn't compare to what Khara Smith and all four seniors have done to get us in a position to be here. The seniors, led by Khara have given this program a very vital movement forward. In regards to the game, we were able to hang with LSU for a half. We got stuck on Seimone's (Augustus) #33 for a long time and never got off of it. For a little bit of the game we were down 10, 12, 14 points and then LSU opened it up a little more. They got stuck on 60, then we got stuck for about five or seven minutes and fought back. It's a ball game of easy baskets and there was no place for us to go to get easy baskets."
When asked if fouling Sylvia Fowles was part of the game plan
"With our program, game in and game out, we try not to foul. We wanted to try to use our fouls against Sylvia Fowles, but we would have needed a couple more days of preparation. She's a special player. I know on that one play she wanted to dunk the ball. I could see it in her eyes. She was going up with two hands and had her stride, but our kids caught up to her and she had to lay it in."
On what he was thinking on the bench in the second half
"I was trying not to panic. We do have an offense that can get us quick shots. If we go to that mode and make shots, we're back in the game, if we miss, it's 30 points quick. We were trying to hold it at 10 or 12 and chip back. In that period Khara missed a layup, we didn't get any rebounds. We out rebounded them for the game, but gave up untimely second shots in that timeframe to them."
Guard Jenna Rubino
On the LSU defense
"In the second half, we were terrible executing any offense. We made multiple attempts at different offenses. LSU cranked up their intensity. You could feel it."
"We were not as controlled as we needed to be. Our offense was forcing too much. We thought we saw openings that weren't there."
Forward Khara Smith
On going forward with the DePaul program
"Everybody needs to take this learning experience and carry it with them all season to improve on what they can to get better for themselves."
"They are very quick and athletic, especially on defense. We just needed to run our offense more effectively and efficiently. We were running around quick and they picked up the defensive intensity. We were not able to overcome that hump."