Louisville snaps LSU's home tourney win streak at 12 games

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Angel McCoughtry tilted her head back and let out a yell as she high-stepped away from the basket, celebrating the late-game steal she'd converted into a crushing fast-break layup.

Playing before a crowd dominated by LSU fans, McCoughtry still found plenty of ways to make herself heard as her 28 points led Louisville to a 62-52 victory over the Lady Tigers in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Tuesday night.

"I really, truly feel -- I was thinking to myself -- this is our time," McCoughtry said. "It's time for a different program to step up and get some new faces up in the Final Four -- and we need to be one of the new faces."

With every victory, Louisville (31-4) sets a new school record for wins in a season. The Cardinals still need one more to give their program a new first: a berth in the regional finals. Louisville lost to North Carolina in the regional semifinals in New Orleans last season.

But McCoughtry and Candyce Bingham, Louisville's top two scorers and rebounders, are seniors now and showing why they could take the third-seeded Cardinals to new heights.

"We plan on taking it further," said Bingham, who scored 17 points. "We think we have a pretty good chance of winning the next game."

Louisville ended sixth-seeded LSU's bid to reach an unprecedented sixth straight Final Four.

Allison Hightower scored 21 for the Lady Tigers (19-11), who also saw their streak of NCAA tournament victories on their home floor snapped at 12 and their appearances in the regional semifinals snapped at six.

With five new starters and one senior on the roster, LSU was not expected to contend for another Final Four. There was even doubt in midseason whether the Lady Tigers would make the tournament before their late-season six-game winning streak.

When they qualified, they were automatically slated to open at home because Baton Rouge had been selected as a host site for the first two rounds long in advance.

LSU defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round and kept Louisville within single digits for most of the game with the help of the Lady Tigers' lone senior, Kristen Morris, who scored 13 points.

"I am incredibly proud," LSU coach Van Chancellor said. "This was a great year for us. ... Our kids played as hard as they could."

The competition was ferocious, with bodies crashing to the floor on numerous possessions. Becky Burke ended up with a bleeding gash on her lip after colliding with Latear Eason while the two hustled for a loose ball in the second half. Burke was dazed by the collision, lying on the court for several minutes while trainers attended to her.

Burke said she blacked out for a moment and didn't remember what happened.

Still, she returned to the game and drained a 3-pointer, which gave Louisville a 54-47 lead with 5:13 to go and stirred the Cardinals' bench into a frenzy.

"As long it wasn't gushing blood, I had to get back out there," Burke said. "None of us were going to let each other lose and we don't want to lose for Angel and Candyce. They're so passionate about this."

Louisville finally went up by double digits when McCoughtry's steal and fastbreak layup with just over a minute to go made it 62-51. McCoughtry struggled with her shot at times, going 9-of-22 and 0-of-5 from 3-point range, but hit 10-of-11 free throws.

"In the first half I had to calm her down some because she was trying to gamble on some things, but in the second half I thought she relaxed," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "It's no secret we run a lot of stuff for her. I'm not dumb."

Louisville made 15 of 17 free throws and outrebounded LSU 39-25.

In the first round, Louisville had used its trapping defense to force Liberty into 27 turnovers, but LSU was much more prepared for the Cardinals' defensive pressure.

With two guards moving in tandem as LSU brought the ball out of the back-court, the Lady Tigers effectively broke Louisville's trap. LSU's only real trouble was hitting shots. The Lady Tigers made only four of their first 13, but trailed only 12-10 thanks to strong defensive play.

Turning the ball over only once through the first 19 minutes, LSU pulled ahead 17-16 on Katherine Graham's baseline jumper. Morris followed with another baseline jumper, then Hightower added free throws and a jumper during a 9-2 run that put the Lady Tigers up 23-18.

The crowd was energized, but Louisville showed no panic, instead turning to the two players who'd led the Cardinals all season. McCoughtry and Bingham combined for all points in a 9-0 run late in the half, highlighted by Bingham's layup as she was fouled, and the Cardinals surged into the lead, 29-25.

Bingham scored 11 in the first half and McCoughtry 16, including a pair of free throws to put Louisville up 33-29 at halftime.