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Duke Quiets Louisiana State

Blue Devils limit Tigers to a record-low 15 points in the first half on the way to a 64-45 semifinal victory.

April 03, 2006|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

BOSTON — Be it Louisiana State women or Louisiana State men, once the basketball team gets to the Final Four, the season ends.

Duke (31-3) limited the Tigers to a record-low 15 points in the first half and went on to overpower Louisiana State, 64-45, to set up an all-Atlantic Coast Conference final for the NCAA women's championship.

The Blue Devils, led by Mistie Williams with 14 points and nine rebounds, will next play Maryland, a team they beat twice in the regular season but lost to in the semifinals of the ACC tournament.

"LSU is an exceptional team and I thought this was one of our best defensive efforts, really, of the year," Duke Coach Gail Goestenkors said.

For the Tigers (31-4), this was their third consecutive trip to the Final Four, and the third consecutive time they lost in the national semifinals. On Sunday it wasn't hard to figure out why. Duke locked up LSU stars Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, holding them to a combined 22 points. LSU made only 18 of 62 shots overall and had eight blocked. The Tigers' total of 15 points in the half broke the Final Four record of 17 set by Duke in its loss to Purdue in 1999.

"Regardless of how disappointed I am in our inability to perform better, it's not lost on me how much Duke had to do with that," LSU Coach Pokey Chatman said.

If the Blue Devils have been affected by the current situation back in Durham, N.C., where members of the men's lacrosse team are being investigated in an alleged sexual assault on an exotic dancer during an off-campus party, the players weren't letting on, or weren't allowed to. Tournament and Duke officials have done their best to squelch any questions about it.

But there was nothing to question about the Duke effort Sunday. They held the Tigers to six field goals in 25 attempts in the first half. A swarm of defenders, among them Jessica Foley and Abby Waner, limited Augustus to two shots and she missed both. LSU got one glimpse of the game, going on a 9-2 run to get within six, at 37-31. But Duke responded with a 13-1 run to go back up, 50-32.

Augustus, a three-time All-American and two-time Wade Trophy winner who is expected to be the first player selected in the WNBA draft Wednesday, finally scored at the 17:38 mark of the second half and wound up with 14 points. But it was not the ending she sought for a storied college career.

"It's unfortunate we've been here three times and never got past the semis," she said. "But it's been a tremendous time. For the most part, I feel like I did what I wanted to do ... hopefully left my mark."

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