LSU 71, No. 8 Penn St. 66

Adrienne Webb pumped a fist in the air as she was lifted up by

teammate Theresa Plaisance, basking in the wild cheers of the

heavily pro-LSU crowd.

With the best shooting night of her career and a relentless

effort on defense, the feisty senior guard helped send LSU through

to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2008.

Webb scored a career-high 29 points, including two crucial free

throws with 22 seconds left, and LSU upset third-seeded Penn State

71-66 in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Tuesday

night.

”I had to play my hardest in (potentially) our last game,

because it’s do or die,” said Webb, who also defended Big Ten

player of the year Maggie Lucas and helped hold her to 2-for-10

shooting. ”I really had to assert myself.”

Bianca 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.

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.”

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.”

Lucas finished with nine points.

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

basketball,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said of her

leading scorer. ”That’s the way it goes some nights.”

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.

”Jeanne has really been a leader for us on the court – vocal,

getting stops on defense, coming down and taking charges and I

wanted to see her play her one more game,” Webb said. ”I wanted

to play in Spokane and have Jeanne Kenney out there with me.”

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 for the lead with 40 seconds to go.

The contributions by Webb and Lutley were particularly important

on a night when 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.”