No. 14 LSU tried various lineups in an attempt to stop No. 5 Louisville.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, none of them worked against the Cardinals' potent offense that couldn't be stopped once it got going in the second half. The result was Louisville's 88-67 victory in the preseason WNIT semifinal Thursday night.
Junior DaShawn Harden, the reigning SEC Player of the Week who entered the game averaging 19 points for the Tigers (2-1), was held to four points. The guard missed her first five shots before she made a 3-pointer with 5:18 left.
Senior Theresa Plaisance and freshman Raigyne Moncrief had 13 points each for the Tigers. Plaisance had eight rebounds.
LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said she wanted to put a veteran group on the court that boasted a size advantage with the 6-foot-5 Plaisance and 6-4 senior Shanece McKinney in the post.
The Cardinals simply weaved their way through the Tigers' post duo and outscored LSU 54-26 in the paint.
"The lineup we wanted to go with was more of an experienced lineup," Caldwell said. "Obviously when you play a team like Louisville, a team that was at the Final Four, you know that they're very capable and very good. ... We thought we could try to exploit the high-low action if we were able to get the ball into the high post area."
Asia Taylor led the Cardinals (3-0) with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor, who missed last season with a hip injury, gave the Tigers defense all it could handle early in scoring 10 of her team's first 12 points.
She didn't score the rest of the first half but was rejuvenated in the second, making two straight baskets to spark a pivotal run that put the Cardinals up 56-46 with 14:23 remaining. The Tigers got within 60-54 before Louisville went on a 21-0 run that turned it into a blowout.
Plaisance said the Tigers were effective in eliminating Louisville's outside game as the Cardinals shot 21 percent from 3-point range.
"They found other ways and other opportunities to get the ball in the basket," she said. "They capitalized on our mistakes."
It was Plaisance who brought the Tigers back into contention after they fell behind 29-24 with just over 5 minutes left in the first half. Plaisance scored two straight baskets to cut the deficit to 29-28.
Shawnta Dyer answered at the other end to make it 31-28. Double-teamed and under pressure, Tigers guard Anne Pedersen was able to flip the ball to Plaisance, who hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 31 with 3:22 left.
Harden's free throw with 2:13 left gave LSU its first lead of the game, 34-33.
After missing her first two shots, Harden went to the bench after 6 minutes. She returned with 5:03 left in the first half.
"I think DaShawn really had a tough night, but she's somebody we're going to count on and we'll continue to get her moving in the right direction," Caldwell said. "This was a good test for her. She knows she's got a lot of work to do."
Louisville shot 61 percent in the second half while holding LSU (2-1) to just 10 of 32 in the final 20 minutes and 25 of 67 (37 percent) overall.
Shoni Schimmel added 15 points, Antonita Slaughter 12 and Sara Hammond and Bria Smith 11 each for the Cardinals, who meet No. 11 Oklahoma in Sunday's championship. The Sooners beat No. 25 Gonzaga 82-78 in the other semifinal.