Shreveport Times Bob Heist: LSU's undersized White stands tallest

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    BATON ROUGE ? At 5-foot-3, LSU point guard Erica White was the shortest player on the roster of either team that took the court Monday night for the second round of the New Orleans Regional.
    And for most of the first half ? nearly 14 of the 20 minutes, to be exact ? she was also the shortest player on either the LSU or Marist bench, saddled with foul trouble.
    With White in the game, the Lady Tigers led 14-6 against the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champs. And, to be honest, it should have been worse.
    But looking at 14 minutes minus his electric playmaker, Van Chancellor wasn't thinking like the head coach of a team ranked No. 6 in the country.
    "Anytime we lose her, we're just trying to hold on," Chancellor said after his team was fortunate to take a 29-27 lead into halftime. "That's all we did, and that's how important Erica White is to this team."
    "But," he added, with that endearing Southern drawl, "we knew we'd be able to turn Erica loose in the second half."
    And, of course, that's what happened.
    With a stat sheet filled at the break with zeroes other than for two fouls and a steal, one of the stars in LSU's record-setting senior class set the record straight over the final 20 minutes.
    In a half that defined a career, White hit 6-of-10 shots, including both 3-point attempts, and added four assists and three steals. White didn't come off the floor until the starters were pulled from the game with 1:27 left to play.
    Without White on the floor, Marist outscored LSU 26-19. With her, the advantage was 49-23 Lady Tigers.
    Sure, LSU's all-world center Sylvia Fowles got hers with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but the little train from Marist that thought it could at halftime, simply couldn't because performance isn't measured by height.
    Lady Tigers 68, Red Foxes 49.
    Next stop New Orleans.
    "Erica White was the difference," coach Brian Giorgis said, stating the obvious after No. 22-ranked Marist had the nation's best winning streak snapped at 22 games.
    "Her energy and perimeter shots caused us problems."
    Ironically, that was Marist's game plan.
    As Red Foxes sniper Julianne Viani said, Marist was forced to pick its poison with the Lady Tigers. The game plan was to pack the defense around Fowles in the paint and shutdown LSU's top shooter Quianna Chaney.
    Fowles herself didn't beat Marist, and neither did Chaney, who was limited to eight shot attempts and 10 points.
    But no one could account for White.
    By the 8:49 mark of the second half, White had scored 13 points. During a
    four-minute stretch, she had two baskets and a steal that set-up a Chaney 3-pointer for a 42-34 LSU lead.
    With 9:18 to play, White converted a three-point play for a 50-38 advantage.
    Twenty-nine seconds later, her 3-pointer pushed the Lady Tigers ahead 53-41.
    Marist never got within single digits again.
    "Our momentum changes when Erica's out," Fowles said. "It's like I always say, it begins with Erica, and you saw that again. She's the head of the snake."
    "She's one of the players we wanted to force to beat us," Viani admitted. "Give her credit, she stepped up. But with a team like that, you have to pick your poison. It was just frustrating to see that when it's a decision you made."
    And it probably didn't happen by accident either that when the LSU team did a victory lap to shake hands with fans who came to the final game this season in Pete Maravich Assembly Center, that leading the way was White.
    But, who else could it really have been?
    "I just tried to stay focused, just stay in the game mentally and come back in the second half and play well," White said. "The difference in the game was in the first half we weren't able to knock down open shots. In the second half, we knocked down perimeter shots.
    "I think that was the difference in the game in the second half. We just said, if you're going to dare us to shoot, we're going to knock 'em down. We did ? we win."

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