POSTED: Sunday, March 8, 2009 - 12:05am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:57pm
Vanderbilt overcame a three-point halftime deficit, outscoring the LSU women’s basketball team 38-21 in the second half and ending the Lady Tigers’ six-game winning streak, 61-47, in the second semifinal of the 2009 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Saturday night at Alltel Arena.
LSU (18-10) lost for the first time since Feb. 8 at Mississippi State and will now await an NCAA Tournament bid when the field of 64 is unveiled on Monday, March 16.
LSU is playing host to the NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds at the Maravich Center on March 22 and 24.
Christina Wirth led Vanderbilt with 18 points and Jence Rhoads added 15 points. LSU was led by freshmen forwards LaSondra Barrett and Courtney Jones who each had 10 points. Junior guard Allison Hightower saw her streak of consecutive double-figure scoring games come to an end at 15 with six points tonight.
LSU committed 20 turnovers on the night with 13 of those coming in the second half. The Commodores converted those into 18 points and stymied the Lady Tigers to 38.3 percent from the floor.
“I want to give Vanderbilt credit, they played well tonight,” LSU head coach Van Chancellor said. “They have a lot of heart, they played tough, they did a great job. Uncharacteristically, this was not LSU today. We did not play like we have been playing for the last seven games. We turned the ball over too much and didn't rebound the ball.”
LSU held a 26-23 lead at halftime and led by as many as seven points in the first half. The Lady Tigers built the advantage to 28-23 before Vanderbilt made its move with a 9-2 run. Jennifer Risper’s two free throws at the 15:44 mark gave the Commodores their first lead, 32-30.
The score was tied at 40 apiece following a jumper by Jones with 8:29 remaining, but Vanderbilt outscored LSU 21-7 the rest of the way. Wirth fired in a 3-pointer and Tia Gibbs layup extended the lead to double-digits with 3:49 to go.
Barrett’s two free throws pushed the deficit to eight points, but Wirth nailed another decisive 3-pointer with 55 seconds on the clock that made it 59-47 in favor of Vanderbilt.
The Commodores (23-8) advanced to play top-seeded Auburn in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. CT Sunday. Auburn was a 78-58 winner over Tennessee in the first semifinal.