LSU lost at home in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, and the same opponent may be waiting for them at that stage in Baton Rouge again.
To get a chance at revenge, though, the sixth-seeded Lady Tigers must end No. 11 seed Green Bay’s 24-game winning streak Sunday.
One year ago, Penn State invaded the Pete Maravich Assembly Center as a No. 4 seed and eliminated LSU with a 90-80 win. The third-seeded Lady Lions are back in Louisiana this weekend, and they face No. 14 seed Cal Poly in the first game Sunday.
LSU (20-11) may be the higher seed in the second game, but the Lady Tigers see Green Bay - No. 20 in the AP poll while LSU is unranked - as a formidable first-round opponent with a tradition of winning. Green Bay (29-2) is 206-25 since the start of the 2006-07 season.
The Phoenix, who were rarely challenged while running the table in the Horizon League, haven’t lost since Dec. 5 at Central Michigan. They are making their fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance, and Green Bay’s seniors have never lost a first-round game.
“We thought they were going to be a sixth seed,” LSU guard Jeanne Kenney said. “We know Green Bay is a great team.”
The Lady Tigers have a size advantage, particularly when 6-foot-5 All-SEC forward Theresa Plaisance (17.4 points per game) is on the floor, stretching defenses with her ability to score from inside and out.
LSU also has been a much stronger team over the second half of the season than its overall record would indicate. After losing to Tennessee on a last-second basket Feb. 7, the Lady Tigers won seven straight, including victories over ranked opponents Georgia, Kentucky and Texas A&M.
Their only loss after that came against Georgia in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.
“There was a period during this season where we could have tanked,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “They stayed the course. They matured. They grew together.”
The last time Green Bay lost a first-round game was in 2009, when, like this season, the Phoenix were a No. 11 seed playing LSU in Baton Rouge.
Listening to Green Bay’s seniors, a lot has changed since then, particularly when it comes to expectations.
“At Green Bay we’re used to winning and we like to win, and it’s just a tradition of excellence we’ve developed here, the culture that we can’t get enough of,” said senior guard Adrian Ritchie, who averages a team-high 14.2 points per game. “We’re putting everything out there and we’re ready to play against LSU for sure.”
The Phoenix rank second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 48.1 points per game.