Women's Final Four Bound! LSU Beats Stanford, 62-59

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
Women's NCAA Tournament Central Box Score +0

SAN ANTONIO — LSU’s Seimone Augustus drew a charging foul with 4.8 seconds remaining and then made two free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining to send the Lady Tigers to their third-straight Women’s Final Four, 62-59, over Stanford.

Augustus, the reigning national player of the year, scored 12 of LSU’s final 15 points in the last 7:31 to single-handedly carry the Lady Tigers past the fading Cardinal down the stretch.

She wouldn’t be denied a final shot at the school’s first national championship in her senior season. Augustus finished with a game-high 26 points on 11-of-21 shooting, blocking a career-best three shots, grabbing four rebounds and adding two steals.

LSU (31-3) will face the winner of the Albuquerque Regional final between No. 1-seeded Duke and No. 2-seeded Connecticut (March 28, 8 p.m. CT).

The 2006 Women’s Final Four, to be held in Boston’s TD Banknorth Arena, will start on Sunday, April 2, at either 6 or 8:30 p.m.

What began as a two-on-two dual — LSU’s Augustus and Sylvia Fowles and Stanford’s Brooke Smith and Candice Wiggins — became a one-woman show in the end.

The senior from Baton Rouge played the starring role — and took home a large trophy and the San Antonio Regional’s Most Outstanding Player honor.

Fowles took only seven shots, but made five to score 11 points. Her 17 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals made the difference in the paint — where Stanford scored only 12 points in the second half.

Before the 2005-06 season began, many wondered who would take over for departed point guard Temeka Johnson. Sophomore Erica White took over the job in January.

On Monday night, White gave those same doubters flashbacks to the now-WNBA Rookie of the Year, as she scored 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting with seven assists and five steals.

LSU shot 59.3 percent (16 of 27) from the field in the second half to finish at 48.2 percent for the game.

Though the Lady Tigers struggled at the line throughout (8 of 16), but Augustus’ pair with 4.6 seconds to play put LSU back in the Women’s Final Four.

As they have been throughout the tournament, Stanford was led by Wiggins and Smith. After combining for 71 points in the regional semifinal victory over No. 2-seeded Oklahoma, the duo scored 37 points against the Lady Tigers’ defense on 16-of-40 shooting.

The Cardinal, which led by five at the half, shot 41.7 percent for the game (25 of 60).

Stanford’s season ended just short of their first Women’s Final Four berth since 1997. The Cardinal finished the season 27-8.

As the teams felt their way through the first half, each looked to their superstars to lead the way.

For Stanford, Smith made 4-of-9 shots in the half, but didn’t attempt a field goal in the final eight minutes of the half when Wiggins went to work to earn nine of her 11 first-half points.

Augustus and Fowles combined for 17 of LSU’s 23 points in the first 20 minutes, making 8-of-15 shots. With Stanford keying on each and packing as many as five players in the paint, the rest of the Lady Tigers were unable to capitalize on open shots, making only 3 of 14.

The Lady Tigers fell behind 5-0 in the opening minutes, but battled back to take an 8-7 lead with 14:13 left in the half. Smith scored six points in the next three minutes as the Cardinal re-took the lead, 13-10.

LSU answered with six straight to grab their largest lead of the first half, 16-13. However, after a Fowles second-chance layup with 6:25 to play in the half, LSU went 5:11 without a field goal to fall behind 26-19 on a Wiggins three pointer.

Augustus’ layup with less than two seconds to play pulled LSU within five, 28-23, as the break.

Using a 14-2 run, the Lady Tigers came back to take their first lead of the second half, 41-35, when White converted a fast break layup and a 16-foot jumper to spark her team.

However, Stanford answered with eight straight points of their own, starting a see-saw on the scoreboard for the remaining 11 minutes of the contest.

There were six lead changes and one tie until LSU scored six straight to lead by five, 60-55, on a fast-break layup by Augustus with 2:09 left.

Stanford scored four straight, getting within a point with 38 seconds remaining on a three pointer by Wiggins from the top of the key.

Off an LSU turnover, Stanford took over with 11.5 and the teams traded 30-second timeouts.

Coming out of the timeout, Wiggins dribbled past Hoston to the elbow, where her progress was stopped by Augustus as she passed to a wide-open Krista Rappahahn. The sharp-shooting Rappahahn buried the three, but the official blew the whistle for a charge long before.

Augustus, LSU’s career free throw percentage leader, missed two free throws earlier in the contest. But, again, should wouldn’t be denied, making both.

Stanford’s baseball pass to half court was intercepted by Hoston and the senior ran out the clock.

2006 San Antonio Regional
All-Tournament Team

Seimone Augustus, LSU — Most Outstanding Player
Candice Wiggins, Stanford
Sylvia Fowles, LSU
Brooke Smith, Stanford
Courtney Paris, Oklahoma

2006 NCAA San Antonio Regional
March 25 & 27
AT&T Center
Monday, March 27, 2006
Regional Finals ? LSU Quotes
Head Coach Pokey Chatman
“I am just proud of the team and the effort that was put forth. We kept talking to them the entire game about fighting for the opportunity to advance to the elite Final Four. It was such a hard fought game. To sit there and watch Stanford put up eighty-eight points against Oklahoma, it doesn’t make things easy on your day off. I thought even when we struggled in the first half, a lot of it had to do with Stanford and their defensive schemes, some of it had to do with LSU. I thought we were still able to hold our heads up on the defensive-end of the floor by holding them to twenty-eight points. It was nice to finally see a point guard step up and knock down shots, and run our offense. I do have to single out Ashley Thomas for the tremendous effort she put forth on Brooke Smith. That was also a team effort.”

Talk about the charge on Candice Wiggins
Seimone Augustus, Sr., G
“Its just about taking risks. We had just discussed shooters and not letting them get open, and I saw the opportunity. I saw Candice (Wiggins), she was kind of out-of-control for a minute and I saw an opportunity to take a charge.”

There seemed to be more celebration this year than last year, was it because of it being your senior year
Scholanda Hoston, Sr., G
“I think that had to do a little with it. It was a hard fought game. Both teams fought really really hard. It was a tough battle. We poured everything out, not to say we didn’t last year, but it was just the intensity.”

Being the third Final Four, discuss what it would be like to get a title
Seimone Augustus, Sr., G
“You want to go out on a high note. It would be great, the first ever. It’s a great opportunity to play the best ever and end on a high note.”

Head Coach Pokey Chatman
Decision to play Ashley Thomas more on Brooke Smith
“Ashley’s our four, Brooke (Smith) is their four. I thought it was one of those things where Ashley could utilize her quickness. She is very quick off of her feet. Our biggest thing to defend the post is that post defense starts on the perimeter. You limit their touches. Ashley did so well early, after six and a half minutes she needed a sub and I was ok with that because she was playing hard.”

Can you describe the defense and the charge
“I expecting Candice (Wiggins) to have the ball in her hands, and make a decision. When you are a player of her caliber that is what you do. She had the ball in her hands. I think that one of the best offensive players in the game made a defensive stop. It was one of those things where we wanted to stay home on the shooters, but Seimone (Augustus) knowing the kind of player she was wanted to take matters into her own hands, took that chance, she was in a great position and took the charge.”

Were you watching the official or the shot on the charge
“I was watching the official. I didn’t have to see the ball, I felt by the crowd’s reaction that it went in. It was one of those things that it was do or die. Maybe because of the effort or the energy and the execution that we displayed out there, it was nice to see something go our way.”

Being your third straight Final Four, any difference in your preparation
“Win. Get better. Better in terms of, it is the third one there have been some keys players that have been done that road, so they can help prepare some of these kids who haven’t been down that road in this capacity. Its one thing for Erica (White) to make that trip, I think that there is some of that leadership in Sholanda (Hoston) and Seimone (Augustus). They are like our coaches. At some point you relinquish some of that to your players and at some point they have to become leaders.”

Head Coach Tara VanDerveer

Opening Comments
“I’m very proud of our team and how well we competed and the plays that we made.  I guess it just came down to execution.  I felt we had a great last shot and it went it, but we needed to hit some free throws at the end.  Candace and Brooke did a great job, as well as Kristen, but we needed a couple more contributions.  We gave them too many easy baskets.  Our team played great and I’m very proud of the way they competed.  This should motivate our young team to work hard in the off season.”

On Erica White being LSU’s spark in the second half
“She got some rebounds too, at 5 foot 3.  I thought she played really well.  She drove by too many people and got too many easy baskets.  Our team worked really hard to do the right thing on her, but she’s very quick and the whole team is very quick and took us of the dribble and she did too.

On the charge called on Candice Wiggins
“I think it’s a hard call to make at that point in the game.  I figured if anything it would be a no call.  It’s a really tough way to lose a game.  The game does not amount to one play.  Their defensive pressure picked up in the second half and forced too many errors.  It’s disappointing to get this close and see a ball go in the basket and have it taken away from you. “

On Brooke’s foul trouble late in the game
“It makes it really tough.  Again, I think they have great quickness and athleticism.  It’s hard to second guess calls.  At the end when Thomas drove to the basket, I didn’t want Brooke to foul and I’m glad she didn’t.”

Candice Wiggins, So., Guard

On if she saw Seimone Augustus make a cut to the basket late in the game
“I knew it was coming, we make that same play all the time.  I was just a second too late, you know and the pass was there.  I knew it was coming though, I just couldn’t get there in time.”

On if she knew she had five fouls at the end of the game
“I think that first of all, the fouls, I didn’t realize a charge was a foul.  In regards to the call, I mean it is what it is, I just feel like I let the team down, but you’re going to get bad calls.”

On comparing last year’s Elite 8 loss to this year’s
“This one definitely hurts a lot worse, just because it came down to one possession.  The game with Michigan State last year was a little different because of the atmosphere and came down to one shot too, but I was a sophomore then.  For the team and as far as we’ve come, it has been really emotional to be together.”    

On the play of freshman Jillian Harmon
“She played awesome and not like a freshman at all.  She played Seimone tough, hit big shots, found open shots and also got a big steal at the end of the game.  She was awesome and I’m so proud of her and the team.”

On how well Seimone elevates on her shot
“Yeah, her release is really high so you can’t block her shot.  There are a lot of players that are very similar to her that we’ve played.”

Brooke Smith, Jr., Center

On LSU’s second half adjustments
“They’ve been playing great second half all season long.  They came out and were more aggressive.  We didn’t necessarily come out and execute the way we wanted to and turned the ball over too much.  We didn’t make the adjustments we needed to make.”

On only getting to the foul line five times in the game
“I think we were trying to get to line as much as we could and attack them, but we just couldn’t get to the line.”

On how tough the loss is and the disappointment
“I don’t think there’s any good feeling about losing.  I think that as a team we’ve come a tremendously long way since November and December.  In a couple of weeks we can look back at that and be proud of it, but I don’t think it makes this loss more acceptable or make it hurt any less.”