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Louisiana Tech Too Much for North Carolina State

Women's Final Four: Techsters win, 84-65, despite 37 points by Wolfpack's Melvin.

March 28, 1998|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About 15 minutes after Louisiana Tech defeated North Carolina State, 84-65, in the first women's NCAA semifinal game Friday night, the question everyone knew was coming was asked.

Keep in mind, out on the Kemper Arena court, Arkansas and Tennessee were warming up for their game.

So Louisiana Tech's LaQuan Stallworth, who'd just contributed 18 points and nine assists, was asked how she felt her team matched up with unbeaten Tennessee.

She got this much out: "We both like to run, so it'll be a game of rebounds and transition points . . . "

Then the Techsters' coach, Leon Barmore, who will be seeking his third NCAA title Sunday, interrupted.

"I'd really like to allow Arkansas to play Tennessee first, all right?" he barked.

"Let's address that later, please. I don't want my players being asked any more questions about Tennessee."

It didn't really matter, though, since the Lady Vols improved to 38-0 with an 86-58 victory over Arkansas.

In the earlier game, Louisiana Tech was almost flawless in running its record to 31-3 by winning its 16th straight.

The Techsters have great team speed and rebounding and a high-energy style that North Carolina State (25-7) never came close to solving.

On the other hand, Louisiana Tech never came close to solving North Carolina State 6-foot-3 forward Chasity Melvin, who finished 37 points, a semifinals record, and nine rebounds.

North Carolina State's storied tournament journey--the Wolfpack upset Old Dominion and Connecticut back-to-back to get here--ended emphatically, despite Melvin's performance.

She probably played her way into the first round of the draft of either women's professional league.

And she did it against two outstanding post players--first 6-3 Alisa Burras and then 6-3 Priya Gilmore, daughter of former NBA player Artis Gilmore.

But Melvin's team simply couldn't play with Louisiana Tech.

Barmore's team is indeed as thin as he said it was--every starter played at least 31 minutes--but what a starting unit. Monica Maxwell and Amanda Wilson had a combined 23 rebounds and lightning-quick guards Stallworth and Tamicha Jackson had 14 assists.

Without a five-minute-plus scoreless streak early in the first half, North Carolina State might have played Louisiana Tech even early, but the Techsters used a Wolfpack lapse to build a 10-point lead and they maintained it.

The Wolfpack had a 10-6 lead at 14:07, but when they next scored, with 8:58 to go, the Techsters were up 20-12.

Louisiana Tech began the second half with a 12-2 run, reaching 53-34 before Melvin had six straight points.

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