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WOMEN'S WEST REGIONAL

This Trip Is a First for LSU

March 30, 2004|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — The only thing Sue Gunter, in her 40th season of coaching, missed over the telephone was being able to cut down the nets.

Seimone Augustus scored 29 points on 12 of 19 shooting and point guard Temeka Johnson added 16, leading Louisiana State to its first Women's Final Four with a 62-60 victory over Southeastern Conference rival Georgia on Monday in the NCAA West Regional basketball final.

"We are a part of history," Augustus said. "We gave Coach Gunter her first Final Four and one for Pokey Chatman too."

Chatman is the former LSU point guard who has served as acting coach the past two months while Gunter, 62, has watched games on TV from her home because of acute bronchitis.

In the postgame celebration, Chatman dialed up the head coach. "I spoke to her about 10 minutes after the game," Chatman said. "She was so excited, we could barely talk to each other. We were screaming, hugging, and kids were crying, trying to get the telephone."

The fourth-seeded Tigers (27-7) will play the winner of tonight's Tennessee-Stanford game in the national semifinals Sunday in New Orleans.

Christi Thomas had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia, but she missed four of five free throws in the final five minutes. Before the game, she had been 19 for 19 from the line in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. Freshman guard Janese Hardrick added 18 points for the third-seeded Bulldogs (25-10). In the last eight seconds, she skidded and lost possession as Georgia's last chance slipped away.

"I truly believe that it means more to everyone around Coach Gunter than it does to Coach Gunter," Chatman said. "She says all the time that her career wouldn't be any less fulfilling if she didn't get there."

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