BATON ROUGE -- LSU’s seventh-ranked Lady Tigers were able to battle back from a halftime deficit, but in the end No. 2 Tennessee prevailed for a 56-51 victory on Monday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Lady Tigers (23-5, 9-3 SEC) trailed 30-22 at the break, but opened the half on a 9-2 run to get back into the game, 32-31. Tennessee (25-2, 12-0 SEC) then built up a 39-34 lead before LSU chipped away to tie the score a 42-42 with 8:50 remaining.
The Lady Vols built a five-point lead again, but the Lady Tigers were able to claw back and tie the score two more times, including 51-51 with 1:21 left to play.
Tennessee connected on five of six free throws in the final 1:21 and a Quianna Chaney’s three-point attempt that would have tied the score with seconds remaining went in the rim and bounced out. UT’s Alberta Auguste then hit two free throws with a second remaining.
Tennessee’s Candace Parker led all scorers in the game with 27 points to go with 13 rebounds.
Sylvia Fowles led LSU with 18 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. Chaney added nine points and five boards, while Allison Hightower had eight points.
LSU shot 40.4 percent from the floor in the game, including 50.0 percent in the second half, but LSU was unable to get the key rebounds, getting beat on the boards, 44-36. Tennessee shot 31.3 percent from the floor in the game, but grabbed 20 offensive rebounds that converted to 13 second chance points.
"Obviously, traditionally Tennessee is a really good rebounding team and there are no defensive second chance points,” LSU head coach Pokey Chatman said. “You work so hard to force a shot, get a body on somebody, grab the rebound and block out. We gave up two offensive boards late in the game that we are in position to have an advantage and one cost us a three. You cannot have those type efforts and expect to be in the ball game with Tennessee."
The loss moves LSU into third-place in the Southeastern Conference standings, three games behind Tennessee and a half-game behind Georgia.
The Lady Tigers have two regular season games remaining with a visit to No. 12 Vanderbilt on Thursday at 8 p.m. CST before hosting Alabama in the finale on Sunday at 2 p.m. CST.
- LSU dropped back-to-back home games for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
- The loss snapped LSU’s 21-game home court win streak in the SEC.
- Sylvia Fowles recorded her 15th straight double double with 18 points and 16 rebounds tonight. It was also her 21st of the season and 56th of her career.
LSU HEAD COACH POKEY CHATMAN
On how much the offensive rebounds and second chance points hurt LSU...
"You could start there. We broke it down a little bit more in the locker room at halftime, but that is a great place to start because it is something that we were emphasizing coming off the Arkansas game, our ability to secure rebounds. Obviously, traditionally Tennessee is a really good rebounding team and there are no defensive second chance points. You work so hard to force a shot, get a body on somebody, grab the rebound and block out. We gave up two offensive boards when the game dictates that we are in position to have an advantage and one cost us a three. You cannot have those type efforts and expect to be in the ball game with Tennessee."
On the decision she had to make at the end of the game...
"It wasn't really a tough decision at that time because the defense had slowed them down. They had no offensive rhythm. We did a good job of running that shooter, then sending somebody to Parker. I just didn't think they had a lot of flow. We got the shot that we wanted, we just didn’t rebound it, and that was typical of the evening."
On LSU being dominant if Candace Parker was out of the game...
"When the rest of the team is getting those opportunities off of missed shots the percentages obviously swing in the favor of Tennessee. It is one thing to shoot a 15-footer or to have a put back. We didn’t really have everybody in check because we didn’t have five white jerseys on the boards blocking people out."
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
On Tennessee getting so many rebounds...
“They were very consistent with crashing the boards. We were able to prevent some of their plays, but they still did well crashing the boards.”
On how this game might affect their NCAA tournament bid...
“We aren’t worried about the NCAA tournament right now. We are only worried about our next two games against Vanderbilt and Alabama. We know what we have to do to prepare ourselves and improve.”
On how much it hurt the team when Porsha Phillips got in foul trouble...
“It hurt a lot because she brings a lot to the table. She can post someone up or take them off the block. Losing someone like that is going to affect the team.”
On how Candace Parker played...
“She is a great player. She is like a three-in-one. She can post someone up, take them off the block or drive to the basket. She was very impressive tonight.”
On her three-point shot that could have tied the game at the end...
“To tell you the truth, that is something I have always dreamed about. To have a chance to take a last-second shot like that. When it left my hand, I knew it was going in. But when I opened my eyes and saw that it rimmed out, it was hard to take.”
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH PAT SUMMITT
"Obviously, I am very proud for this basketball team. I thought they hung really tough when things didn't always go our way. We played through some tough possessions. (Sidney) Spencer didn't shoot the ball well. She's 1-for-12, and we still manage to score. I thought Candace (Parker) on the inside was huge just establishing the post-up game and being aggressive to the basket. We came up with key rebounds down the stretch. Obviously this LSU team is very, very strong both perimeter and post game. We knew it would be a great challenge, and we met that challenge. I am just really proud of this team. They worked really hard to put themselves in this position. We've had a lot of tough road games, and I think the fact that we've had the close games we've had and played the schedule we've had prepared us for not going into panic mode late in the game."
On withstanding LSU's defense ...
"They are obviously a great defensive team. With Sylvia (Fowles) inside, she is so imposing. I thought we did a good job of playing away from her at times. We managed to have composure in late seconds. We had a couple of possessions that got away from us, but all in all I thought we managed to at least get the ball into scoring position in the late seconds. Again, just being able to come up with key rebounds when we didn't score. We didn't obviously shoot the ball well, but we found a way to win the game."
On the victory ...
"It's big because it is a chance for us to win this league. It's also a chance for us to keep ourselves in a position for a No. 1 seed if we win these next two games. This team has proven themselves in so many big games. I think we not have to have a letdown and finish out with Arkansas and Vanderbilt. If we do that and going into the SEC (Tournament), this team definitely deserves a No. 1 seed. Hopefully, we can play well for the tournament. What they've done this season is a testimony to their character and their toughness and just their ability to close out games."
TENNESSEE F/C CANDACE PARKER
On winning the SEC regular season title ...
"We knew going into this game that we haven't won a (SEC) regular season title. That has been a big goal of ours. We've won the (SEC) Tournament championship the last two years, but we've lacked the regular season. That has been a goal of ours, and now we have accomplished that. Now, we want to run the table."
On LSU's defense on her in the second half ...
"Honestly, we are a type of team that takes what the defense gives you. Pick your poison. They doubled in and people were open outside. Lex (Hornbuckle) did a good job penetrating. Other people stepped up in the second half."
On getting key offensive rebounds late ...
"The last two or three possessions, we had different people. Our philosophy was if you can't grab it, tip it. We tipped the ball to different teammates. We got second chance points. It was just a team effort."