POSTED: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 6:45pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 6:49pm
Baton Rouge, La — For the 21st time in program history, the LSU women's basketball team has punched its ticket to "March Madness" as the Lady Tigers drew the fifth seed in the Kingston Region and will play host to No. 12 seed San Diego State (25-6) in the NCAA Tournament first round at 6:30 p.m. CT Sunday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
No. 4 seed Penn State (24-6) takes on No. 13 seed UTEP (29-3) in the first contest at 4 p.m. CT. The two winners will face off in the second round at 8:30 p.m. CT Tuesday. All three games of the Baton Rouge first and second rounds will be televised live by ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.
All-session ticket books and group tickets are on sale now at www.LSUtix.net . Tickets can also be purchased by calling (225) 578-2184 or in person on the first floor of the LSU Athletic Administration Building.
Adult all-session ticket books cost $25, which includes admission to all three games of the tournament. Youth all-session ticket books are $15. Group tickets for parties of 10 or more are available for $5 and that includes admission to one session of your choosing.
Single-session tickets will be available to purchase beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Single session tickets cost $16 for adults and $11 for youth. Details on LSU student tickets will be announced later this week.
"I'm extremely excited for this group and I'm excited for our fans and our community as we host the first and second rounds," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "We're looking forward to some very, very competitive basketball.
"I really feel like our fans have been amazing the entire season. We just really want everyone to come out Sunday and support us and take a look at us during postseason because this team definitely has a different mentality right now."
LSU (22-10) returns to the NCAA Tournament after missing the tournament for the first time since 1998 last season. The Lady Tigers led by first-year head coach Nikki Caldwell rode a six-game Southeastern Conference winning streak to finish 10-6 in league play.
LSU then went on a run through the SEC Tournament and reached the SEC Tournament championship game before losing to Tennessee. Two of the Lady Tigers' wins came against SEC regular season champion Kentucky, who drew a No. 2 seed.
Caldwell is certainly no stranger to postseason play. In a combined 15 years as a player, graduate assistant, assistant coach and head coach, she has reached the NCAA Tournament 14 seasons and amassed a 47-10 record with three national championships dating back to her playing days at Tennessee.
LSU owns a 38-20 record in NCAA Tournament play and the Lady Tigers are playing host to the first and second rounds for the seventh time since the event expanded to the current 64-team format. The Lady Tigers will take a 13-game NCAA first round winning streak into Sunday's contest and a 13-2 overall mark in tournament games played in Baton Rouge.
All-SEC forward LaSondra Barrett has recovered since suffering a concussion in the SEC Tournament championship. Barrett led the Lady Tigers in scoring and rebounding on the year with 12.5 points and 6.9 boards per contest. Junior guard Adrienne Webb earned a spot on the SEC All-Tournament team after averaging a team-best 14.0 points in LSU's three games.
"There's no better feeling than knowing that you're playing in front of your home fans at LSU," said Barrett. "We have special fans here, and we play well at home. I think right now we're just excited that we got a five seed. To look at our season it's amazing to see where we came from at the beginning of the year until now and how close we've grown."
San Diego State earned an automatic bid, after winning its second Mountain West tournament title with a 57-43 victory over New Mexico this past Saturday in Las Vegas. This is the third trip to the NCAA tournament for the Aztecs in the last four years and ninth in school history.
Junior guard Courtney Clements, the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, is SDSU's leading scorer with 17.4 points per game. San Diego State and LSU will be meeting for the first time.
Penn State is making its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance and second straight. The Lady Lions, ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll and 12th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, feature All-Big 10 Conference players Maggie Lucas and Alex Bentley, who post 19.1 and 14.2 points per game, respectively.
UTEP is making its second all-time NCAA Tournament appearance. The Miners claimed the Conference USA regular season and tournament championship, setting a school and C-USA record for 29 regular season victories.
Quotes from Monday night's