Louisiana Tech earned a chance at its third straight national title with a 71-55 victory over host Old Dominion tonight in a NCAA women's semifinal at the Scope.
The Techsters (31-1), winners of 30 stright and 100 of their last 102 games, will face second-ranked Southern California (30-2), an 81-57 winner over Georgia (27-7), for the championship Sunday at 2:30 (WDVM-TV-9).
The game will be the third between the teams this season. USC dealt Tech its loss, 64-58, in December, but the Techsters won the rematch, 58-56.
The Techsters built a 12-point halftime margin and survived their 35-percent second-half shooting to beat the Monarchs (29-6), who had won 13 stright since losing to Maryland Feb. 9 at Cole Field House.
Anne Donovan, the Monarchs' 6-foot-8 national player of the year, scored 20 points in her final game and forward Medina Dixon had 16. However, play making guard Helen Malone, who averages nearly 16 points per game, scored only four as Louisiana Tech's defensive star, Lori Scott, prevented her from penetrating.
Dixon scored the second half's first four points to narrow the ODU deficit to 37-29, but was benched shortly thereafter after being charged with her fourth foul. ODU kept the momentum going, and eventually Malone's driving layup pulled the Monarchs within 39-35 with 16 minutes to play. Tia Sossamon and Janice Lawrence scored the next six points for Tech, all on inside feeds from Kim Mulkey, and the Techsters were back in front by 10.
Donovan, who didn't score for the half's first nine minutes, scored The Monarchs' next 10 points. But Louisiana Tech stayed comfortably ahead thanks to the play of Lawrence and guard Pam Gant's behind-the-back pass gave Scott an easy layup and the Techsters a 59-45 advantage with 4:35 left.
The point guards are the key for us,'' said Louisiana Tech Co-Coach Leon Barmore, and despite Lawrence's 23 points, he was right. Mulkey ran the offense well and although she and Jennifer Wright combined for only seven points, neither guard committed a turnover.
Southern Cal used a career-high 14 assists from freshman playmaker Rhonda Windham to rout the Bulldogs. USC led by 10 just five minutes into the game, and the Trojans were never threatened. Janet Harris, who led Georgia with 27 points, pulled the Bulldogs to within eight, 43-35, with 16:39 to play but Pam and Paula McGee scored 10 of USC's next 14 points as the Trojans ran off 10 straight points to pull away, 59-39.
Georgia tried man-to-man, 2-1-2, and 1-3-1 defences, but nothing could stop the Trojan rally, USC committed a season-high 32 turnovers, but rarely shot from farther than five feet..
"We felt for us to stay close we'd either have to rebound with them or shoot 50 percent," said Georgia Coach Andy Landers. "We didn't do either. USC thrives on momentum. If they get one basket, its usually two, and if you're not careful, its three."