Elite Eight berth on the line for LSU women
SPOKANE, Wa. - Confidence is at an all-time high for the No. 6 seed LSU women's basketball team as the Lady Tigers seek to continue their magical ride through the 2013 NCAA Tournament against No. 2 seed and sixth-ranked California (30-3) in the NCAA Spokane Regional Semifinal at approximately 10:32 p.m. CT Saturday in Spokane Arena.
The Sweet 16 contest will be televised live on ESPN2, ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN App on tablets. Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Deb Antonelli (analyst) and LaChina Robinson (sideline) will call the action. The LSU Sports Radio Network tipoff show begins at 10 p.m. CT and it will be carried on Talk 107.3 in Baton Rouge with Patrick Wright behind the mic.
Members of the Geaux Zone can listen to a live stream of the game at www.LSUsports.net/live. In-game updates and behind the scenes views of the team can be followed on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LSUwbkb or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUwbkb.
Top seed Stanford (33-2) takes on No. 4 seed Georgia (27-6) in the first semifinal at 8:04 p.m. CT live on ESPN. The two winners will meet in the Elite Eight with a berth to the Final Four in New Orleans on the line at 8:40 p.m. CT Monday on ESPN.
LSU, making its 13th all-time Sweet 16 appearance and first since 2008, went through an hour and a half workout in Spokane Arena on Friday after addressing members of the media and ESPN. The Lady Tigers (22-11) are playing their first game in the state of Washington since beating Georgia in the 2004 NCAA West Regional Final in Seattle.
"We are a team that is taking it one game at a time, one opponent at a time and then really enjoying this whole journey," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "It's been a very exciting journey and it's one that we don't want to have end.
"We have been very committed to executing our game plan, doing the little things and being better teammates to each other. I think that's been key for us that they have now evolved as a tight knit group."
Coming out West has been a ritual for LSU this time of year. The Lady Tigers are making their fifth appearance in a West regional semifinal and LSU is 3-1 in the previous meetings. The Lady Tigers have also won seven consecutive regional semifinal games they have played in dating back to 2000.
To reach the Elite Eight, LSU will have to stop the best California team in school history. The Golden Bears, co-champions of the Pac-12, have won 18 of their last 19 games, including victories over Fresno State and South Florida in the first two NCAA rounds in Lubbock, Texas.
Cal ranks third nationally in rebounding margin at plus 11.6. Lindsay Gottlieb's team is led by All-Pac 12 senior guard Layshia Clarendon, who averages 16.0 points per game. Junior forward Gennifer Brandon pulls down 11.3 boards per contest.
"Cal is a team that's evolved and matured over the years," said Caldwell, who was 6-1 against Cal at UCLA. "Layshia Clarendon is one of the best players off the bounce. You have got to respect her ability to score the basketball. She's also a great defender. When I was at UCLA, I recruited some of these young ladies to come attend our institution. They are not only great players but great people."
LSU recorded one of its biggest wins in program history to reach the Sweet 16. Dressing a roster of only seven players, the Lady Tigers knocked off No. 3 seed Penn State, 71-66, on Tuesday in Baton Rouge behind a career-high 29 points from Adrienne Webb. Webb's 29 points were the most by an LSU player in an NCAA Tournament game since Seimone Augustus scored 29 as a freshman against Georgia in the 2004 West Regional Final.
Webb is the Lady Tigers' leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament, posting 22.0 points per game. In LSU's last 10 games where the team is 9-1, Webb is averaging 16.2 points per game with 16 threes and a 40-of-46 effort from the free throw line.
Overall, the Lady Tigers continue to feature four double-figure scorers led by 17.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game from junior All-SEC forward Theresa Plaisance. Senior guard Bianca Lutley is LSU's second leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament with 15.5 points in the two games.
Junior guard Jeanne Kenney, who missed the Penn State game with a head injury sustained against Green Bay, practiced the entire workout on Friday. She is listed day-to-day and her playing status Saturday will be a game-time decision.
"Jeanne Kenney is one tough kid," said Caldwell. "She's been our warrior. We're just going to make sure that we take all the necessary measures to keep her healthy."
LSU and California are meeting for just the second time and first since the Lady Tigers won 65-56 on Dec. 17, 1981 in Portland, Ore. LSU has won seven consecutive games over Pac-12 teams dating back to 2004, and the Lady Tigers are 4-1 all-time against the Pac-12 in NCAA Tournament play.