LSU overpowers Arkansas, clinches share of SEC title

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The Southeastern Conference championship banner was hanging in the rafters before tip-off, ready to be unfurled as soon as the game ended.

Quianna Chaney and the sixth-ranked Lady Tigers made sure their final home game went according to script.

Chaney scored 20 points and LSU clinched a share of the SEC regular season crown with an 83-46 victory over Arkansas on Thursday night.

"I guess they had that banner up there knowing they were going to drop it on us," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "But that's OK. It was the moment to drop it. They won it and they needed to drop it when they had their fans here. Those seniors deserve that."

LSU (24-4, 13-0 SEC) has now won the SEC title three times in the last four seasons. The Lady Tigers have one SEC game remaining on Sunday at Mississippi State, where a victory would conclude an undefeated season in the league and formally wrap up the conference title.

However, LSU has locked up the top seed in the SEC tournament because of its win over No. 3 Tennessee earlier this month.

If there was any disappointment for the home fans, it was that they didn't get to see Sylvia Fowles get her 79th career double-double, which would have set a new SEC record. She had 11 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Late in the game, she asked LSU coach Van Chancellor to put her back in, but the coach refused.

"I told her I have to have something to hold over her head at Mississippi State," Chancellor said.

"I don't want to be satisfied," Chancellor added, noting that Tennessee still has a chance to grab a share of the league crown if LSU loses Sunday. "I don't want to share this with the big orange."

Erica White and Marian Whitfield each had nine points and RaShonta LeBlanc had eight assists for LSU.

Sarah Pfeifer scored 15 and Ayana Brereton 14 for Arkansas (17-11, 2-11 SEC), which has lost nine of 10 games.

Coming off a close loss against No. 1 Connecticut on Monday night, a setback that snapped a 14-game winning streak, the Lady Tigers demonstrated their intention to get back to winning ways from the opening tip.

LSU made 10 of its first 15 shots, with Chaney hitting the first five 3-pointers she attempted, as the Tigers raced to a 25-4 lead through the first seven minutes.

"We were eager to come back out and really show the fans what we were able to do and also to hang that banner," Chaney said. "So we were ready to play."

Chaney wound up with 17 points in the first half, matching Arkansas's point total by herself through the opening 20 minutes.

Defensively, LSU overwhelmed Arkansas, forcing 12 turnovers in the first half alone and holding the Razorbacks to 2-of-14 shooting from inside the 3-point arc during that stretch. Arkansas made 4-of-9 3-point attempts in the opening half, with Sarah Pfeifer hitting two.

LSU turned the ball over a school record-low three times all game while racking up 24 assists.

Fowles' short turnaround capped an 8-0 run that made it 42-11. White later converted her steal into a fast-break layup to put LSU up 47-17 at halftime.

With a roster full of seniors playing their final regular season home game, LSU showed no mercy in the second half, using a 20-0 run to take a 67-20 lead.

Fowles scored twice inside while being fouled during the run, and Chaney matched a career-high with her sixth 3-pointer of the game.

Chancellor removed the starters soon after and the Tigers cruised for the final 12 minutes, as all but one of 14 LSU players in uniform scored.

"Outside of the state of Louisiana, I don't think people give LSU the credit that they probably should get for what they've been able to accomplish, going to four straight Final Fours with the potential for a fifth and winning an SEC championship," Collen said. "They truly have become somewhat of a similar dynasty I think to Tennessee and UConn."