Too much pressure, too many good shooters, too much size, too many rebounders, too much speed, too many fastbreaks. It all must have seemed a blur to the Louisiana State players.
Fueled by 14-0 and 15-3 runs in the first half, top-seeded Louisiana Tech (29-2) won its 21st consecutive game Saturday night at the Sports Arena, 73-52, over No. 4-seeded LSU in the women's NCAA West Regional semifinals.
LSU (22-8) led 15-8 and seemed to have the Lady Techsters, who have lost only to No. 1-ranked Purdue and No. 2-ranked Tennessee this season, slowed to the molasses pace that would suit the Lady Tigers. But that was only a tease.
As Louisiana Tech forward Monica Maxwell said, "We just needed to start making a couple of shots to get us rolling. Then we went on a run and they became frustrated."
Center Shaka Massey started the 14-0 run with two free throws. And then Betty Lennox, a hyper forward who brings a jolt stronger than espresso from the bench, scored the next seven points--the last three on a shot from 25 feet. That put the Lady Techsters ahead for the first time, 17-15, and for good too.
Lennox, who averages 9.8 points, had 17 in the first half, which ended with Louisiana Tech ahead 39-25.
Only once in the second half, when guard Latasha Dorsey completed a three-point play to draw LSU within 44-34, did the momentum even hint at returning the Lady Tigers' way.
But Maxwell, a defensive force in holding LSU's leading scorer Katrina Hibbert to seven points, made back-to-back three-point shots and forward Amanda Wilson scored five of her game-high 27 points to put Louisiana Tech ahead 55-38 with 12:45 left.
From there the Lady Tigers were spent, emotionally and physically.
"They've just got more quickness than us and more depth," LSU Coach Sue Gunter said. "We got caught up in their pace and turned the ball over too much."
The Lady Techsters, who won the 1994 national championship and lost in last year's final to Tennessee, said they have come here with a purpose.
"We didn't come here to win just one game," Coach Leon Barmore said. "We came here to go to the Final Four. Amanda Wilson played like the All-American she is. Betty Lennox was a superstar off the bench and from start to finish our defense was superb. So, yes, we're excited with this win. But we are not finished."