DALLAS (AP) — Alexis Morris scored 27 points and had two of his fourth-quarter misses turned into throw-in baskets by Angel Reese in a big run as LSU rallied to beat seeded Virginia Tech 79-72. in a national semi-final on Friday. night.
Reese finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds for LSU (33-2), making it to the national championship game for the first time.
The victory came in the second season since fiery and flamboyant coach Kim Mulkey – in a carnation pink top this time – returned to his home country to take over a Tigers program that lost five national semi-finals consecutive from 2004 to 08 the only other times. they have come so far.
LSU will play Sunday against the winner of the South Carolina-Iowa semifinal.
Mulkey, who won three national titles in four Final Four appearances during his 21 seasons at Baylor, is only the second manager to take two different teams to the national championship game. The other was C. Vivian Stringer, with Cheyney in the inaugural 1982 women’s tournament and Rutgers in 2007.
Trailing 59-50 after three quarters, LSU went ahead with a 15-0 run over five minutes in the fourth period. They led for the first time since the end of the first half when Falu’jae Johnson stole and drove for a lay-up to make it 64-62.
Reese had six points in that decisive push, including a field goal after Morris’ 3-point attempt clicked the front edge. Reese had a second effort to follow his own miss after bouncing off another miss from Morris.
LaDazhia Williams added 16 points for LSU.
Elizabeth Kitley had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia Tech (31-5), the ACC champion making it to the Final Four for the first time. Georgia Amoore and Kayana Traylor each had 17 points, while Cayla King had 14.
Amoore set a record for most 3-pointers in a single NCAA tournament with 24, though she had a tough night of shooting — 4 of 17 overall, including 4 of 15 from beyond the arc. She surpassed the Kia Nurse 22 record set at the 2017 tournament for UConn, which lost in the national semifinals on the same court. Arizona’s Aari McDonald had 22 games in six NCAA tournaments two years ago.
The big run for LSU came just after Amoore made his last 3-pointer with 7:52 left for a 62-57 lead. The Hokies didn’t make another basket until King’s 3 with 1:19 to go.
Morris had opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer for LSU, then had a driving layup in a quick 7-0 run that prompted a timeout by Hokies coach Kenny Brooks.
The Hokies finished the first half with an 11-0 run to lead for the first time, 34-32 on Traylor’s driving layup with 53 seconds left.
LSU went scoreless for the final 4:48 minutes while missing its final six shots after Virginia Tech switched to a zone defense. That included three misses from Reese, who had a late shot blocked by Kitley.
Virginia Tech had trailed just 9½ minutes combined in its first four NCAA Tournament games, by far the best mark of the four teams that traveled to Dallas.
But the Tigers led for 17:55 of the first half as the Hokies started shooting so slowly — they missed eight of their first nine shots — that an LSU cheerleader got an assist before they even officially have a shot.
King was charged with a turnover on a ball that hit the rim and bounced off the top of the backboard and got stuck there. With encouragement from officials and others to that end, a male cheerleader lifted a cheerleader, who knocked the ball down.
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