LSU Coach Sue Gunter looked at the Southeastern Conference tournament bracket and saw a special opportunity.
To win the tourney title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the sixth-ranked Lady Tigers would have to make up for their three losses this season -- to Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.
LSU completed the task yesterday with a 78-62 victory over No. 3 Tennessee. Now Gunter hopes the Lady Tigers receive a No. 1 seed from the NCAA selection committee when the announcements are made on Sunday.
"One of our goals coming in was that in order for us to win the tournament we would have to defeat the three teams that had beaten us," Gunter said. "I don't know what else we could possibly do to earn" a No. 1 seed.
Temeka Johnson did everything she could to carry LSU (27-3) past Tennessee with 24 points and a game-high nine rebounds. The 5-foot-3 junior point guard energized the Lady Tigers' offense with seven assists, and the Lady Vols (28-4) never got closer than 12 points in the second half.
"Temeka Johnson is a difference-maker for them," Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said. "They pushed the ball in transition and made plays. We didn't have an answer for her."
Johnson was named the tournament MVP after scoring 51 points with 14 rebounds and 15 assists in LSU's three victories. She scored most of her points against Tennessee, beating her defender to the basket for easy layups.
Kara Lawson, who put Tennessee in the tournament final with a last-second shot against Mississippi State on Saturday, paced the Lady Vols with 16 points, and Shanna Zolman had 15.
* BIG TEN: In Indianapolis, Shereka Wright matched her season high with 28 points, and Erika Valek had 15 as No. 12 Purdue reached the conference tournament's championship game for the sixth time with an 84-57 win over Iowa.
The third-seeded Boilermakers (25-5) will play fourth-seeded Ohio State today. . . .
Courtney Coleman scored 19 points, and LaToya Turner had 15 as the Buckeyes advanced to the tournament championship game for the first time in eight years with a 72-61 win over No. 14 Penn State.
* PAC-10: In San Jose, Shawntinice Polk scored 22 points as No. 22 Arizona defeated No. 25 Washington, 74-51, in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Dee-Dee Wheeler added 15 points as the third-seeded Wildcats (22-7) extended their season-high winning streak to six games. They will play Stanford in the final. . . .
The No. 9 Cardinal (25-4) advanced with a 69-64 win over UCLA as Nicole Powell scored 18 points, including a critical three-pointer late in the game, and added 15 rebounds.
* HORIZON: Kristy Loiselle and Natalie Yudt each scored 17 points as No. 21 Wisconsin-Green Bay (27-3), playing at home, won its fifth conference tournament title in six years and an NCAA bid with an 83-59 victory over Detroit.
* CONFERENCE USA: In Memphis, Sandora Irvin scored 26 points, had 19 rebounds and keyed a second-half comeback to lead Texas Christian to an 85-76 overtime victory over Cincinnati in the tournament championship game.
Irvin went 11 of 15 from the field and scored five points in the extra period as the Lady Frogs, the tournament's fifth seed, earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
* MAAC: In Trenton, N.J., Rosalee Mason had 20 points and 11 rebounds as Manhattan beat Siena, 65-57, in the conference tournament's championship game to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Manhattan (20-9) scored eight of the game's final 10 points to hold off a rally by the Saints.
* WEST COAST: In San Diego, Kelli Spencer scored 11 of her 14 points in the final eight minutes as Pepperdine beat Santa Clara, 69-57, in the conference tournament's championship game.
Spencer led Pepperdine's 13-2 run over a four-minute stretch in which the Waves (22-7) took the lead for good as they earned the conference's automatic NCAA bid for the second straight year.
* BIG SOUTH: In Lynchburg, Va., Katie Feenstra had 28 points and 13 rebounds as Liberty beat High Point, 84-71, to win its seventh straight conference tournament title.
The win was Liberty's 22nd in a row, the third-longest Division I streak in women's basketball, and sends the Lady Flames to the NCAA tournament. A sign in the stands read "Bring on UConn."
Kentucky Coach Resigns
Kentucky women's basketball coach Bernadette Mattox has resigned after eight seasons.
The Wildcats were eliminated in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament last week after finishing with a 4-10 record in the SEC during the regular season. Mattox compiled a 91-135 record in eight seasons and Kentucky made the NCAA tournament in 1999.