A win away
Louisiana Tech eyes an eighth Final Four berth
Posted: Wednesday March 24, 1999 11:19 PM
LOS ANGELES (CNN/SI) -- Louisiana Tech simply overpowered its instate rivals Saturday night.
The Lady Techsters turned up the defense and defeated Louisiana State 73-52 in the semifinals of the West Regional.
Amanda Wilson led the way for Louisiana Tech with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Betty Lennox came off the bench, scoring 17 of her 19 points in the first half.
"From start to finish, the defense was superb," said Tech coach Leon Barmore, who has led the Lady Techsters to eight Final Four berths and one national championship in 16 years as coach. "We're excited about winning, but we came here to get to the Final Four."
One more win will do it.
The victory over LSU was the 21st straight for Tech (29-2), which will face the winner of the Colorado State-UCLA game, played later Saturday, on Monday night for the regional championship and a berth in next weekend's Final Four in San Jose, Calif.
"'I thought Amanda Wilson played like the All-American that she is," said Barmore, whose teams are 488-73 overall and 49-15 in NCAA tournament games. "[Lennox] gave us points when we were looking for points. Monica Maxwell's defense on [Katrina] Hibbert was exceptional."
Hibbert, LSU's leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, was held to seven along with seven rebounds and seven assists.
Tech, the top-seeded team in the West, advanced to the NCAA championship game last year before losing to Tennessee 93-75. All but one of the Lady Techsters' 29 wins this season have come by 14 or more points, the exception being a 71-64 victory against Florida International on Jan. 7.
"'It was just too much Tech, it's very simple," LSU coach Sue Gunter said. "It was Lennox in the first half and Wilson in the second half. They've just got great quickness and are deeper than we were and just wore us down."
About Tech's quickness, Gunter said, "You blink an eye, and it's over."
Tech's quickness had a lot to do with LSU's 21 turnovers. The winners, meanwhile, committed only nine turnovers.
Marie Ferdinand led LSU (22-8), the No. 4 seed in the regional, with 16 points, and Detrina White had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Lady Tigers.
LSU, which upset top-ranked Tennessee 72-69 last month, took an early 15-8 lead over Tech, which entered the game averaging 88.8 points per game while allowing only 58.7 points.
But the Lady Techsters then took over, outscoring LSU 31-10 during the final 10:37 of the first half to take a 39-25 lead.
"We were taking a lot of jump shots, and they weren't falling," Maxwell said of the game's first 9 1/2 minutes. "We took a timeout and coach told us to get the ball inside. When that happened, things started happening for us. Shots started falling and we got back into the game."
And a lot more.
First, the Lady Techsters scored 14 straight points - nine by Lennox -- to go ahead for good, holding LSU scoreless for a span of 61/2 minutes.
Then, after the Lady Tigers drew within two points, Tech ran off 10 in a row -- the first eight by Lennox, a junior guard who brought a 9.8-point average into the game and played just 11 minutes in the first half and 18 overall.
''Betty came into the game and gave us a spark," Wilson said. "Once she gets pumped up, everybody else gets pumped up behind her."
Said Ferdinand: "[Lennox] came out and really hurt us a lot. I don't think we were expecting her to be shooting the way she was shooting. We had the game under control until she came in."
LSU wasn't closer than 10 points in the second half. Wilson scored 15 points to spark a 19-6 run that made it 69-44 with 5:36 remaining, and the Lady Techsters coasted home from there.
Despite being located just 200 miles apart, the schools hadn't played since the 1990-91 season, when LSU beat Louisiana Tech twice to snap an eight-game losing streak against the Lady Techsters.
It took an NCAA tournament matchup some 2,000 miles from home to set up this meeting.
Tech now has a 14-6 overall record against LSU.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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