Jan. 4, 2004
BATON ROUGE - The 17th-ranked LSU Lady Tigers scored the first 10 points of the game and 25th-ranked Arizona never could fully recover as LSU scored a 77-67 win over the visiting Wildcats Sunday afternoon at the Maravich Assembly Center.
Four lucky fans in the crowd of 3,322 (Dalton Coslan, Jan Wilkerson, Kristy Boxberger and Bryan Pellegrin) were able to win pairs of tickets to the Nokia Sugar Bowl and transportation to the game later in the evening in New Orleans, but the crowd also was loud and enthusiastic for the Lady Tigers and spurred them on with each bucket to start the game.
Arizona turned over its initial possession leading to a 17-foot jumper by Doneeka Hodges and it was Hodges putting LSU up 5-0 one minute in with a three-pointer from the corner. Seimone Augustus made a lay up to make it 7-0 forcing an Arizona 30-second timeout. Then it was Hodges again for three and the Lady Tigers were up 10-0 before Dee-Dee Wheeler would score for Arizona at the 17:35 mark.
LSU Coach Sue Gunter missed her first game in several seasons, suffering from the flu, but the team was in the capable hands of Associate Coach Pokey Chatman and Assistant Coaches Bob Starkey, Carla Berry and Administrative Assistant Joe Carvalhido.
"I was very pleased with the way we jumped out in the game," said Chatman, the former All-American point guard for the Tigers. "It was nice to come out early and establish ourselves. This is a very good team that we played that will do very well in their conference."
Augustus led LSU with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, while Doneeka Hodges, who hit four treys, had 18 points and Wendlyn Jones posted 15 points. Tillie Willis and Augustus led LSU with eight rebounds apiece, while Tameka Johnson had 11 assists.
Wheeler had 27 points on 11-of-27 shooting. CoCoa Sanford had 17 points off the bench, while Shawntinice Polk added 14 points (with 12 rebounds) for Arizona (11-3) and losers for the first time in 11 games.
"I thought we played timid in the first half," said Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini. "We tried to rely too much on Dee-Dee and Polk. The lesson you learn is that other people have to step up and play."
After LSU's initial run, the Tigers lead hunt around the 10 point mark until the final six minutes when LSU pushed it to 16 points on another Augustus lay in, 32-16. The Tigers led by 12 at the 20-minute intermission.
In the second half, it was all LSU out of the dressing room, scoring the first seven points to up the lead to 19 points, 46-29, with 16:20 to play and LSU continued to force turnovers and convert, advancing the lead to as much as 25 twice at 62-37 on a three-point play by Jones and 64-39 on a jumper by Scholanda Hoston at the 10:28 mark.
"There were a lot of positive things in the game for us," said Chatman of the 12-2 Tigers, "although obviously we weren't as pleased with the way the game finished. We needed a game like this to get us ready for Auburn coming to town this coming Sunday to open conference play."
Arizona, to its credit, continued to fight hard and was able to get its offense rolling, cutting 10 points off the lead to 15, 67-52, with 6:45 left and the Wildcats got as close to nine, 71-62, on a Wheeler three-pointer with 1:39 to go.
"We finally were able to put it together in the last eight minutes," said Joan Bonvicini.
The Lady Tigers have the week off before opening conference play with the annual 'Pack The PMAC game against Auburn at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game will be regionally televised on SEC-TV.