The No. 3 seed LSU Tigers turned an up-and-down game into domination at the right moment Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, advancing to the national championship game with a 79-72 win over the No. 1 seed Virginia Tech Hokies.
LSU began the fourth on a 22-3 run that gave it a 72-62 advantage. Alexis Morris went on a 5-0 individual run with a three and layup and then Angel Reese got the ball on the low block and you just knew she was going to score easily, which she did with a layup. VA Tech’s Georgia Amoore responded with a three, but then the Tigers rattled off nine more points. A Flau’jae Johnson pick-6 is what gave them the lead and then Kateri Poole added a layup in transition to make it 66-62. A Johnson offensive rebound-turned-layup made it 72-62 with 3:04 remaining.
The Tigers led by at least six the rest of the way.
Reese finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three steals, while Morris had 27 points and LaDazhia Williams had 16 points, seven boards and three swipes.
Virginia Tech closed the first half on an 11-0 run to lead 34-32 at the break and made it a 16-0 run and a 39-32 lead in the third quarter. It started with Elizabeth Kitley battling to keep possession of the ball down low before rising up for a layup. Kayana Traylor then got a steal near mid-court and took it the other way for a layup before burying a straightaway three that cut it to two.
Out of a Tiger timeout after that, Kitley blocked Reese and then hit from mid-range to tie the game. A Traylor floater that went off the rim and backboard and in was the final say of the opening half.
Cayla King opened the second half with a triple and then Kitley closed the run with a layup.
The Hokies went on to lead by as much as 12 in the third (on a King curl three) and led by nine entering the fourth. LSU was able to cut it to five twice in the third, but on one of those occasions, Poole was called for a technical foul immediately afterward and Amoore made both free throws to make it a seven-point game again.
Traylor had a big third with a pick-6 that made it 53-43 and mid-range make that rolled around and in to make it 57-50.
The Tigers went on a 10-2 run to lead 32-23. They got a 3-point trip down the floor when Williams missed her second free throw but got the ball back and scored inside to make it 27-21. Morris closed the run with a pull-up mid-range make from the left baseline.
LSU led 20-13 before a 6-0 Tech run cut it to 20-19. The Tigers also led 14-8 before Tech made its first three of the game on its seventh attempt to cut it to 14-11. Amoore made the shot and it was her fifth attempt from deep.
With the score at 2-0 LSU early, an LSU cheerleader, standing on the hands of another cheerleader, poked the ball out from being stuck behind the backboard.
Kitley finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and seven blocks. Traylor added 17 points, nine boards and two steals.