<
>

Augustus carries LSU to first Final Four

SEATTLE -- See Seimone shoot.

See Seimone run the floor and play defense.

See Seimone Augustus carry LSU to its first Final Four. Acting coach Pokey Chatman acknowledged as much after the Lady Tigers' 62-60 win over Georgia in the West Regional final on Monday night.

"I'll start with the lady to my right,'' Chatman said, nodding toward Augustus. "There was a stretch in there where we weren't quite able to execute offensively and she basically willed us through.''

Augustus was outstanding for LSU (27-7), which will meet the Midwest Regional survivor -- Tennessee or Stanford -- in New Orleans. She had 29 points on 12-for-19 shooting with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.

Two nights earlier, Augustus scored another 29 points, hitting 14 of 19 shots from the floor, to lead fourth-seeded LSU to a lopsided win over top-seeded Texas.

"She's really, really good,'' Georgia coach Andy Landers said after being denied the school's sixth Final Four. "She was good Saturday night and she was good tonight.''

Augustus glowed in the accomplishment, judging from the wide smile on her face and the net hanging from her neck during postgame interviews. It was no surprise she was selected the Most Outstanding Player in the regional.

She had 16 points by halftime against Georgia, capping the first 20 minutes with a highlight-reel move. When Janese Hardrick went for a steal, Augustus took a side step and dribbled around her back, then swished the open jumper.

Augustus was a good distraction, too. The Lady Bulldogs double-teamed her with the game on the line, making it easier for standout point guard Temeka Johnson to get open.

LSU erased a 54-47 deficit in the second half, and Johnson hit a 16-footer to tie it at 59 with 1:54 remaining. She made another with 1:03 on the clock, moving the Lady Tigers ahead for good at 61-60.

"They showed all night they were going to double up Seimone because she had a hot hand,'' Johnson said. "When the ball went into her, they automatically swamped her and it left me wide open.''

Augustus said she was just doing her thing.

"It just happened,'' she said. "Our team really wasn't executing well. Our offense didn't have the spacing we wanted. But
the shots showed for me. I just put them down.''

It wasn't all Augustus, of course.

Johnson scored 16 points and Doneeka Hodges had six rebounds and seven points, including a key three-point play when LSU trailed 60-54 with 2:39 to play. It was a huge momentum swing for LSU.

"I just felt like my team needed me, so I had to do whatever I had to do to get the ball in the basket,'' Hodges said. "Didn't
have much time, so I dropped my head and kept fighting.''

And then there's Wendlyn Jones. She collected the loose ball and began the celebration after Hardrick skidded to the floor and lost control on Georgia's final possession.

Indeed, the Lady Tigers held together all weekend.

"I just want to sit back and soak up what these kids did tonight,'' Chatman said. "Coach Landers spoke about it, how well
they play together and feed off each other. During a couple timeouts, they understood that it wasn't about X's and O's. It was about what they have earned: the opportunity.''