BATON ROUGE, La. — No. 3 Tennessee’s offense struggled in its 55-43 victory over No. 18 LSU on Sunday night, but coach Pat Summitt was still pleased—with a tough zone defense.
“I thought our coverage out of the zone was really good,” Summitt said. “We extended it. We were aggressive, we got after it. Obviously we wanted to make sure we were not just giving them good open looks or a lot of chances to get in the paint.”
The Lady Volunteers, who scored about 20 points below their average, held LSU to 26 percent shooting from the field.
Alyssia Brewer made the most of her third Southeastern Conference start, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds for Tennessee. Kelly Cain added 11 points and Angie Bjorklund had 10 for the Lady Vols (17-2, 5-1).
Allison Hightower led LSU (14-4, 3-3) with 17 points and LaSondra Barrett had 12. Jasmine Nelson had 10 rebounds for the Tigers.
LSU scored only 5 points in the first three minutes of the game.
“I think during those plays we had a lot of breakdowns,” said Hightower. “We fouled the shooter and put them on the line. They got a few easy looks in the post. I guess we had a lot of breakdowns at key moments in the game— blocking out and rebounding.”
Tennessee, playing its second straight road game, led by as much as seven in the first half and took a 24-22 lead at the break.
LSU took its only lead of the game with 12:18 remaining in the second half, going up 35-32 before the Vols answered with an 18-2 run to put the Lady Tigers away.
The much bigger Lady Vols gave LSU problems under the basket, holding the Tigers to only 12 points in the paint. Tennessee outrebounded LSU 39-32.
LSU retired former player Seimone Augustus’ jersey before the game. Augustus, a two-time national player of the year, led the Tigers to their first Final Four as a sophomore and ranks in LSU’s top 10 in every major category. Augustus is the first female athlete at LSU to have her jersey retired. It now hangs beside those of Pete Maravich, Shaquille O’Neal, and Bob Petit.
The rivalry game, normally a big draw, played second fiddle to the New Orleans Saints taking on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game, which kicked off at the Superdome shortly after the tip in Baton Rouge.