Kim Mulkey’s run isn’t over yet.
Though the Tigers appeared stunned by a defensive change on Friday night, they completely took over in the fourth quarter to keep their season alive. LSU rallied to knock off No. 1-seeded Virginia Tech, 79-72, in the Final Four at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas.
The win moves the Tigers into the national championship game for the first time in school history, where they’ll take on either Iowa or defending national champion South Carolina.
Virginia Tech’s 2-3 zone stuns LSU
The Tigers came out of the gate strong, and seemed a full step ahead of the Hokies early on.
Once head coach Kenny Brooks called the switch, however, things changed drastically.
Virginia Tech ended the first half on a huge 11-0 run that spanned almost half of the second quarter, thanks to a defensive switch to a 2-3 zone that completely stunned the LSU offense. Kayana Traylor’s layup just before the end of the second quarter gave the Hokies their first lead of the game after falling into a 9-point hole early. Center Elizabeth Kitley had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first half alone.
Though they’ve run the zone less than 10% of the time this season, the Hokies stuck with it to start the second half — and they picked right back up. Virginia Tech opened the half on a 9-2 run, and then pushed its lead to 12 after a Cayla King 3-pointer near the midway point of the period. While the Tigers slowly chipped away at that lead to cut the game back to a single possession, they didn’t score in the final 2:30 of the third quarter. That sent the Hokies into the fourth with a 9-point lead.
Reese, Morris take over in fourth quarter
The Tigers didn’t go away. They completely took over in the final 10 minutes of the game.
LSU cut the game back to just 2 points after opening the fourth on a quick 7-0 run, and then finally took back the lead after Flau’jae Johnson dropped in a layup off a steal and then Kateri Poole added one of her own. That suddenly gave them a 4-point lead and capped a 16-3 run.
That run continued as the Tigers held Virginia Tech without a field goal for more than six minutes. Their only points during that span came off three Georgia Amoore free throws.
By then, it was too late for a Hokies comeback. LSU outscored Virginia Tech 29-13 in the final quarter to seal the 7-point win and advance to the national championship.
LSU stars Angel Reese and Alexis Morris completely dominated in the fourth. They accounted for 20 of the Tigers’ 29 points in the period, and combined for 51 in the game. Reese finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds in what was her 33rd double-double of the season. That matched the most in Division I history. Morris finished with 27 points. The Tigers didn’t have a single turnover in the fourth quarter.
Reese is now the first player to ever record 100 points, 70 rebounds, 10 blocks and 10 steals in a single NCAA tournament, per ESPN. She has 113 points, 81 rebounds, 14 blocks and 13 steals headed into Sunday.
Kitley led Virginia Tech with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Amoore added 17 points and shot 4-of-15 from behind the arc. Her third 3-pointer of the night came early in the third quarter, which set an NCAA tournament record for the most made in a single tournament. She finished the tournament with 24 total 3-pointers.
Traylor finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds for Virginia Tech, and King added 14 points. As a team, the Hokies shot 9-of-31 from the 3-point line.
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