Lady Tigers stunned in the final seconds

Bill Martin
LSU's Jeanne Kenney

Tennessee freshman Bashaara Graves picked up a steal and converted a game-winning shot with 0.8 seconds left to cap a wild finish as the 12th-ranked Lady Vols stunned the LSU women's basketball team 64-62 last night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Lady Tigers were on the heels of victory with a 62-59 lead and 0:31 to play, but LSU missed two critical free throws that kept the door open for Tennessee. Bianca Lutley missed the front end with 0:31 on the clock, and Graves answered with a shot at the 0:15 mark that cut the LSU lead to 62-61.

The Lady Vols fouled Theresa Plaisance, the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer and one of the league's top free throw shooters. Plaisance missed the front end of her free throw opportunity, and Tennessee tied it at 62-62 on a free throw from Cierra Burdick.

LSU, looking for a game-winning shot, turned it over with 0:04 to play when Lutley was stolen by Graves, who beat the buzzer with a shot off the glass that gave Tennessee a 64-62 lead. The Lady Tigers still got a great look at the basket in the final 0.8 seconds when Plaisance fired a baseball pass across the floor to Adrienne Webb. Webb caught it, and her potential game-winning shot clanged off the iron as the horn sounded.

"I was very proud of our team for putting ourselves in position to win this ball game," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "We did a lot of really good things, and I don't want a last second shot to overshadow the fight and heart that our team had tonight.

"This team has grown in the last couple of days from Monday night's game and from this day forward, we need to continue to grow and learn how to not only put ourselves in position to win basketball games but to finish off the win. We had some tremendous play down the stretch to get us the lead. It's real simple; you make lay-ups and free throws."

The loss dropped LSU to 13-10 overall and eighth place in the SEC standings at 4-6 in league play. The Lady Tigers conclude a difficult week with No. 9 Georgia at 12:30 p.m. CT Sunday in what will be the third straight ranked opponent in seven days for LSU.

Tennessee, coming off a double-digit loss at Missouri, moved back atop the SEC standings. The Lady Vols are now 18-5 overall and 9-1 in conference play after a seventh consecutive victory over the Lady Tigers.

Plaisance led the way for LSU, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Freshman Danielle Ballard added 10 points and four steals. Lutley notched double-figures with 13 points.

Junior guard Jeanne Kenney, who sprained her left knee on Monday against Texas A&M, displayed incredible toughness. Though she did not start, she entered the game with LSU trailing by 11 and provided a spark the remainder of the contest. She finished with four points, five rebounds and five assists. She picked up two big charges on the defensive end that brought the crowd to its feet even while playing through pain.

"For me personally, it wasn't a question (on whether I would play)," said Kenney. "If I had to sub myself in, I would've gotten in somehow. But I'm just trying to stay healthy. I know we have more games to play, and I will take it one day at a time."

The game-winner gave Graves 17 points, while Tennessee guard Meighan Simmons had 18 points.