Fowles powers Louisiana State past ConnecticutMar 27, 2007 - 5:43 AM FRESNO, California (Ticker) -- Bob Starkey has accomplished something that even Geno Auriemma hasn't been able to manage in his Hall of Fame career - perfection.
Sylvia Fowles turned in a dominating performance with 23 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots to lead third-seeded Louisiana State to a 73-50 victory over Connecticut in the championship game of the Greensboro Regional.
LSU (30-7) advanced to its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament Final Four and will meet Rutgers on Saturday in the national semifinal in Cleveland.
Acting coach Starkey improved to 4-0 in his career since taking over for the deposed Pokey Chatman, who resigned on March 7 due to allegations of improper conduct involving a former player.
"I am unbelievably proud of (the players)," Starkey said. "One of the things I want to do - and this sounds funny - is nothing. We are in a really good place physically and mentally.
"There's a lot of hype that goes with the Final Four and I like the fact that this is (some of his players') second or third Final Four."
The Lady Tigers also exacted revenge on Connecticut (32-4), which rallied for a 72-71 victory on February 11 in Baton Rouge, snapping LSU's 43-game home winning streak.
"Sometimes you have to flush out the past and tonight we cleaned up those things," Fowles said.
A 6-6 junior, Fowles led the way by scoring 13 points in the first 11 1/2 minutes - one more than the entire UConn team - for a 24-12 lead with 8:30 to play in the opening half
Freshman Allison Hightower nailed two 3-pointers as LSU extended the cushion to 34-17 and only a late 5-0 burst pulled UConn within 34-22 at the half.
LSU hit four 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes and finished 7-of-10 from the arc for the game.
"We made some outside shots that made it easy for me to score inside." Fowles said. "We just set the tempo in the first half and it was a struggle for (UConn) to keep up in the second half."
The Lady Tigers built the lead to 59-41 on a 3-pointer by Quianna Chaney before Mel Thomas buried two shots from the arc to pulled the Huskies within 59-48 with 4:02 left.
Fowles answered by scoring inside 58 seconds later and LSU steadily pulled away.
The Huskies' inside game was non-existent as Charde Houston scored four points and freshman Tina Charles had just one.
"It's unfortunate we didn't play well in a game like this," Auriemma said. "LSU's game plan and the way they played defensively, not only with Sylvia. All their other guys stepped up and made shots and that's why they are going to the Final Four and we're not."
Ashley Thomas and Hightower scored 12 points apiece for the Lady Tigers, who owned a 37-27 edge on the glass.
Renee Montgomery scored 17 points for UConn, which shot 33 percent (20-of-60).
"Sylvia Fowles is a very dominant post player," Montgomery said. "They came to play and played hard. They are a solid, all-around good team."
- FRESNO REGIONAL
AT FRESNO CA
NCAA WOMENS BB FRESNO REGIONAL
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
LSU (3) 34 39 73
CONNECTICUT (1) 22 28 50 FINAL
Mar 26 10:58 PM
- FRESNO REGIONAL
AT FRESNO CA
NCAA WOMENS BB (3) LSU 34
(1) CONNECTICUT 22 HALFTIME
Mar 26 9:51 PM
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