LSU 71, No. 8 Penn St. 66

Penn State coach Coquese Washington spent an entire season

preaching defense, and it helped the Lady Lions win even on nights

when shots weren’t falling.

That is, until the final minutes of their second-round NCAA

tournament game against LSU.

Adrienne Webb scored a career-high 29 points, including a

pivotal 3-pointer with 3 minutes left, Bianca Lutley added a clutch

basket in the final 40 seconds, and LSU upset third-seeded Penn

State 71-66 on Tuesday night.

”We’ve held teams scoreless the last five, six, seven, eight

minutes of a game, and we didn’t do that tonight,” Washington

said. ”When they needed a basket, they got a basket. So

defensively I felt we could have been a little bit better.”

Nikki Greene had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Alex Bentley

scored 14 for Penn State (26-6), whose loss meant all four No. 3

seeds were out of the tournament.

Bentley’s night started strong but ended with a miss in the

final minutes that could have given the Lady Lions the lead.

”They just came out in the second half with a little bit more

firepower and a little bit more determination,” said Penn State

forward Mia Nickson. ”It’s really tough. We worked really hard to

get here. … It’s going to be hard to swallow.”

Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, the Lady Lions’ leading scorer all

season and the Big Ten player of the year, shot 2 of 10 and

finished with nine points, missing a 3-pointer and jumper in the

tight final minutes.

”She got good looks. She didn’t knock them down, so that’s

basketball,” Washington said. ”That’s the way it goes some

nights.”

Webb was 10 of 16 in what would have been her last game had No.

6 seed LSU (22-11) lost. Instead, she carried LSU to the Spokane

Regional semifinal on a night when the Lady Tigers had only seven

available players.

”Adrienne Webb is one of hardest-working players I’ve ever

coached,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. ”Her competitive spirit

on the defensive end allowed her to really have the attitude you

have to have when you face a player like Lucas.”

”Her mental toughness is something she has fostered throughout

the offseason,” Caldwell added. ”So she’s been training for this

type of game, this type of environment, this type of

situation.”

Lutley overcame foul trouble and scored 18 points, including a

tough floater in traffic in the final minute to give LSU the lead

and added another key free throw to make it a four-point game with

8.3 seconds to go.

LSU next meets second-seeded California on Saturday.

The Lady Tigers opened the tournament with only eight healthy

players, but reserve junior guard Jeanne Kenney’s concussion in

LSU’s first-round victory sidelined her against the Lady Lions.

Kenney, an emotional leader for the Lady Tigers, was told to stay

home, Caldwell said, in an effort not to aggravate any of her

symptoms.

The Lady Tigers hoped to avoid having key players in foul

trouble, but that’s what happened. Lutley, a 5-11 starting forward,

was called for her fourth foul with 11:51 left. Then 6-foot-4

reserve center Derreyal Youngblood was called for her fourth with

6:01 to go.

That limited both players aggressiveness in defending and

rebounding, and Penn State appeared ready to pull away when Green

scored three times inside, Taylor hit a layup with Lutley backing

away during an 8-0 run that gave the Lady Lions a 60-55 lead.

But Lutley responded with a 3, and LSU regained the lead, at

63-62, on Webb’s 3 with 3:04 to go.

Ariel Edwards, who had 13 points for Penn State, drove past both

Lutley and Youngblood for a layup, then hit a pull-up jumper with

54 seconds left that put Penn State in the lead for the final time

at 66-65. But Lutley then dribbled into traffic in the lane and

rolled in a shot to restore LSU’s lead.

The contributions by Webb and Lutley were particularly important

on a night when 6-foot-5 Theresa Plaisance, an All-Southeastern

Conference forward, shot 3 of 14 and finished with eight

points.

”They’ve been a team all season that played through adversity.

… They kind of used that as fuel, and certainly it happened

tonight,” Washington said of LSU. ”They had some added emotion,

along with the home crowd.”

As happens sometimes in women’s basketball, Penn State had to

play on the road as the higher seed because first-round sites had

been pre-determined. Last season, they overcame that to beat LSU in

Baton Rouge in the second round, but not this time.

Now LSU is in the regional semifinals for the first time since

2008, while Penn State failed to get as far as it did last season

despite appearing to have a deeper and more experienced team.

”It’s a tournament. People lose. Upsets happen,” Washington

said. ”That’s part of the tournament.”