No. 14 LSU faces No. 4 Louisville in WNIT semifinal showdown - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

No. 14 LSU faces No. 4 Louisville in WNIT semifinal showdown

From LSU Sports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Two of the nation's elite offenses collide in a preseason WNIT semifinal showdown as the 14th-ranked LSU women's basketball team faces its toughest test to date at No. 4 Louisville at 6 p.m. CT Thursday in the KFC Yum Center in downtown Louisville.

The Top 15 matchup will not be televised but can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge and to members of the Geaux Zone at Patrick Wright will call the action. The tipoff show begins at 5:30 p.m. CT.

"When you look at playing in the WNIT, you know you're going quality opponents," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "Louisville has a very balanced team. They have veteran players. It's going to be a great test for us to see how passionate we'll be on the defensive end. They are a great rebounding team, so we're going to have to be physical but understand that this is a 40-minute game.

"They can put up a lot of points quickly, and they have a lot of weapons. We're going to have to be ready to go to make our own plays."

The winner of Thursday night's semifinal will face the winner of No. 11 Oklahoma-No. 25 Gonzaga in the WNIT championship at 3 p.m. CT Sunday live on the CBS Sports Network.

If LSU wins and Oklahoma wins, the Lady Tigers would travel to Norman, Okla. If LSU wins and Gonzaga wins, the WNIT championship game will be played in the Maravich Center in Baton Rouge. If LSU loses, details on a possible third-place consolation game would not be announced until Thursday night.

The Lady Tigers (2-0), ranked 14th in the Associated Press poll and 16th in the USA Today Coaches, have opened a season with consecutive 80 or more point games for the first time since 2001-02. LSU was an 80-64 winner over Saint Joseph's on Sunday in the quarterfinals. They have done it with balanced scoring and a variety of ways from transition to perimeter shooting.

Junior guard DaShawn Harden, the current Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, is pacing LSU with 19.5 points per game and 7-of-16 threes in the first two games. She is one of five players averaging 8.0 points or better on the squad, which features terrific backcourt depth.

Senior forward Theresa Plaisance is off to a good start with 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Danielle Ballard has been dominant on both sides of the floor, racking up 30 points, 13 assists, six offensive rebounds and five steals in two starts.

Louisville (2-0), ranked fourth in the AP poll and fifth in the Coaches Top 25, has produced back-to-back 100-point games to start the season. The Cardinals dominated Quinnipiac, 100-82, on Monday night in Louisville. They have combined for 17 threes and out-rebounded opponents by a margin of +21.5. Last season, they stunned the college basketball nation by knocking off Baylor in the regional semifinal and eventually reaching the national championship game before losing to Connecticut.

Six players are averaging double-figure scoring led by Sara Hammond, who has put up 15.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Senior guard Shoni Schimmel is a preseason All-American and one of the most prolific shooters in the country.

"We understand what they have," said Caldwell. "We know their personnel. We know their game. This is a Final Four team and they are very seasoned. We are an up-and-coming team with a lot of newcomers, but I'm excited for this group."

Louisville leads the all-time series, 2-1, including a 62-52 win in the most recent meeting in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament in Baton Rouge. This will be the second meeting between the two teams in Louisville and the first since Jan. 3, 1994 when the Cardinals held off the Lady Tigers by a score of 84-81.

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