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Lady Bears fall one point short

Nov. 16, 2004

By Catherine Brown

Sports editor

Down by 19 points at halftime, the Lady Bears fought back in the second half, narrowly losing to Louisiana State University 71-70 Sunday in the closest matchup in State Farm Tip-off Classic history.LSU was up 71-70 off junior guard Seimone Augustus' basket in the last minutes. LSU had another opportunity to score, but junior forward Sophia Young blocked a shot leading to a shot-clock violation. Baylor got the ball with 25 seconds remaining in the game. They set up a play, but LSU's Temeka Johnson, a senior guard, broke up the pass intended for sophomore forward Emily Niemann.

lady_bears
Associated Press
LSU center Sylvia Fowles (31), top, reaches for a rebound over Baylor defenders Steffanie Blackmon (45) and Chameka Scott (21) during the second half of their game in Austin, Sunday.
"There's a couple options coming off of that," head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson said. "Try to look at Emily coming off the staggered screen, and then we threw it away, which has been our problem in close games. We've got to learn to put the ball in the hands of people that will get in the hands of the right people to give yourself an opportunity to win."

Mulkey also said the team gave itself a chance to win, but turned over the ball.

"It wasn't a possession that I would say we got a good look at it," she said. "The second opportunity on that would have been for Steffanie [Blackmon], and we didn't get to that. We had plenty of time to get two looks. We went for the win."

In the first half, Baylor looked out of synch, and shots weren't falling. The team was a combined 10 of 28 from the floor. The Lady Bears also had trouble getting the ball down low to Blackmon and Young because LSU double-teamed the two players. Young finished the first half 4 of 8 from the field, and Blackmon finished 4 of 6. LSU broke out to a 19-point lead behind Augustus' shooting. She finished with 18 points in the first half. Baylor was down 43-24 at the half.

Baylor came out shooting in the second half, but LSU did as well. With the score 57-39, freshman center Sylvia Fowles blocked Blackmon's shot under the basket out of bounds. With two seconds left on the shot clock, Niemann made a three-pointer off the in-bounds pass, cutting the lead to 57-42. Sophomore guard Monique Jones made a basket right after making the score 57-44.

Mulkey said the team members competed their "butts off" to get back in the game.

"We fought. We clawed. [Blackmon] had unbelievable senior leadership," she said.

Blackmon said the team got fired up at halftime and tried to come together and "say you know everybody on this team has to believe that we can come back, and that's what we did."

After an LSU turnover, Scott was left open under basket and put in an inbound pass to tie the game at 69. Augustus then went down the court and scored the winning basket. Young was fouled, but only made one of her free throws, leading to the final score of 71-70.

"I'm very proud of my basketball team," Mulkey said. "To open on national television with your first game of the year and not having any games under your belt, to play against the No. 1 player in the country, the best point guard in America and probably the best freshman post in the country, I thought that it was quite a ball game."

Even with a double-team, Young finished with 21 points.

"She's a tremendous player, and that's the respect that she's going to garner," LSU head Coach Pokey Chatman said.

Blackmon finished with 22 points. Niemann finished with three three-pointers and 15 points. The Lady Bears finished 18-30 in the second half.

"This game doesn't come down to drawing X's and O's," Mulkey said. "When you're down 19, you can forget the X's and O's. When you're down 19, you find out about your team within their heart and what they're made of. I coach with emotion, and they play with emotion. I think the fight and the grit and the determination they had got them back in the game."