WVU women upset by LSU in second round
BATON ROUGE, La. — Danielle Ballard had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and seventh-seeded LSU overcame a late seven-point deficit, as well as foul trouble, to upset No. 2 seed West Virginia, 76-67, in the second round of the Women's NCAA Tournament on Tuesday night.
Playing the last 12 minutes with four fouls, Shanece McKinney had 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, and DaShawn Harden added 12 points for LSU (21-12), which advanced to the Sweet 16 for a second straight season — both times with a second-round upset on its home court.
Next up for LSU is a rematch with Louisville. The two teams played in the preseason WNIT, and the Cardinals came away with a 21-point win.
Holding a seven-point lead 5:05 left, West Virginia was on the verge of winning the first second-round NCAA game in program history, but LSU went on a 16-2 run. Asya Bussie had 21 points, and Bria Holmes 12 for West Virginia (30-5), which fell to 0-8 all time in second-round games.
LSU appeared to be on its heels when Bussie's free throw made the score 63-56 and capped a stretch in which WVU scored 13 of 15 points at the foul line.
Ballard responded with runner, sparking a 6-0 run that pulled LSU back to 63-62 with 3:30 left.
A day earlier, West Virginia coach Mike Carey had said he liked his team's chances in a close game with four minutes left, because WVU had been so solid closing out games all year.
Not this time.
Bussie's transition layup with 3:02 to go was WVU's only basket during a more than five-minute span, and LSU went up 72-65 when Ballard's free throws capped the decisive run.
Despite being without senior guard Jeanne Kenney, who went to the locker room in the first half with concussion symptoms, LSU expanded a one-basket halftime lead to nine at 46-37 when Jasmine Rhodes hit a runner to cap a 9-2 run. Rhodes was a virtual non-factor in LSU's offense for much of the season but responded to an increase in playing time caused in part by Kenney's absence.
Foul trouble began to haunt the Lady Tigers soon after, however. With 12 minutes left, LSU's two best front court players, Theresa Plaisance and McKiney, were on the bench with four fouls each.
That allowed WVU to exploit mismatches with its top interior players, Bussie and Holmes, who combined for 10 points during a 16-2 run that gave the Mountaineers a 57-50 lead.
McKiney returns with about nine minutes left, and Plaisance returned with 6:40 to go. Plaisance finished with nine rebounds and eight points in 28 minutes, and LSU outrebounded WVU, 55-40.
West Virginia also hurt itself with poor shooting, hitting 19 of 63 from the field (30.2 percent).