LSU gets past San Diego St. 64-56 in NCAA opener

BRETT MARTEL AP Sports Writer Published:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- LSU coach Nikki Caldwell was confident LaSondra Barrett was more than ready to return from her concussion a couple of weeks ago, and the Lady Tigers' leading scorer and rebounder came through.

Barrett had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and fifth-seeded LSU held off No. 12 seed San Diego State 64-56 Sunday night in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament.

Courtney Jones added 13 points and Jeanne Kenney 10 for LSU (23-10), which trailed by six midway through the second half but surged in front for good with a 12-0 run that lasted nearly 7 minutes.

LSU, which plays fourth-seeded Penn State in the second round, shot 38.3 percent (18 of 47) but made 26 of 35 free throws while San Diego State (25-7) missed 13 of 20 foul shots.

Courtney Clements scored 17 for the Aztecs, but only three in the second half. Chelsea Hopkins added 14 points.

Barrett was playing for the first time since being knocked out of LSU's Southeastern Conference championship game loss to Tennessee.

San Diego State appeared to be taking control when Kiyana Stamps' 3-pointer started a 7-0 run that was capped when Kalena Tutt stole the ball from Barrett and fed Khristina Hunter for a layup to make it 36-29.

Hopkins stole the ball from Kenney and went in for a layup to make it 47-41 with 10:04 to go, but that was the beginning of the end for SDSU, which suddenly lost all semblance of an offense and did not score again until 3:16 remained.

Kenney, who was bleeding earlier in the second half after taking an elbow to the face, started LSU's comeback with a free throw, followed by Jones' inside basket. Barrett's free throws tied it at 47 with 7:22 to go.

The volume of the roars from the heavily pro-LSU crowd continued to rise as the Lady Tigers surged into the lead on Bianca Lutley's turnaround and inside basket. Barrett's free throws capped the surge, making it 53-47 with 4:09 left.

Clements, who missed five of six shots in the second half, banked in a 3-pointer with 1:04 to go to make it 58-54, but Barrett came back with a pair of free throws and LSU held on comfortably from there.

LSU led by as many as eight early in the first half after a 7-2 spurt that included Kenney's jumper and Barrett's layup.

San Diego State clawed back with the help of Clement's 14 first-half points. She followed a jumper with a steal and fast-break layup to put SDSU up 25-22, and Chairese Culberson's jumper gave the Aztecs a 27-22 lead late in the half before Krystal Forthan's jumper and Kenney's 3 pulled the Lady Tigers back into a 27-all tie going into the locker room.