LSU's Rashonta LeBlanc, left, puts up a shot against Tennessee's Candace Parker, right, during the first half in the SEC women's basketball tournament Saturday, March 3, 2007, in Duluth, Ga. (AP Photo/Todd Bennett)
March 3, 2007
DULUTH, Ga. - Despite a career-high 29 point output by junior Alexis Hornbuckle, the top-seeded Lady Vols fell to #4 LSU, 63-54, in the SEC Semifinals in Duluth, Ga. ending an 11-game win streak by Tennessee. Tennessee had won the past two SEC Tournament championships and were the regular season champions this year.
Sylvia Fowles scored 19 points with 20 rebounds and LSU held Tennessee star Candace Parker to four points Saturday night in the Lady Tigers' 63-54 victory in a Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal.
Tennessee won the regular-season Southeastern Conference title with a 14-0 mark. The No. 2 Lady Vols were favored in the conference tournament, but No. 11 LSU was powered by Fowles' 19th straight double-double.
Parker, who averages 20.3 points per game, was 2-for-11 from the field while setting a season low for points.
Alexis Hornbuckle led Tennessee (28-3) with a career-high 29 points and nine rebounds.
Erica White added 17 points and Allison Hightower 12 for LSU (26-6), which advances to the championship Sunday night against the winner of the Georgia-Vanderbilt semifinal late Saturday.
LSU took a 51-41 lead on a basket by Fowles with 6:43 left. Hornbuckle sank a long 3-pointer with 1:15 left to cut the margin to 55-50, but White and RaShonta LeBlanc each made two free throws to give the Lady Tigers some breathing room.
The loss snapped Tennessee's second 11-game winning streak of the season. The Lady Vols (28-3) lost their first conference game since falling to Florida on Feb. 26, 2006.
Tennessee beat LSU in the 2005 and 2006 SEC tournament finals by a combined total of three points. With most seats taken in the 10,309-seat Gwinnett Arena, this semifinal had the feel of a championship game.
Predictably, Tennessee claimed a big edge in fan turnout, but LSU fans were heard as the Lady Tigers took the lead late in the first half and held the advantage the rest of the game.
Hornbuckle scored 10 points in the first half, including a basket that gave Tennessee a 15-4 lead about 6 minutes into the game. Fowles and the Lady Tigers outscored the Lady Vols 29-14 the rest of the half to lead 34-29 at halftime.
Hornbuckle's 3-pointer with 4:05 left in the half gave Tennessee a 29-28 lead. The Lady Vols were held scoreless the rest of the half as Fowles scored three straight baskets.
Fowles had 14 points and 9 rebounds in the half.