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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2008

NCAA women: LSU topples North Carolina to return to Final Four

LSU's Jessica Breland keeps the ball away from North Carolina's Mesha Williams, right. LSU's Jessica Breland keeps the ball away from North Carolina's Mesha Williams, right.

NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana State coach Van Chancellor can thank Sylvia Fowles for his first trip to a Final Four.

Fowles had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocked shots, lifting LSU to a 56-50 victory over top-seeded North Carolina last night. The victory sent the second-seeded Lady Tigers (31-5) to their fifth Final Four in as many seasons.

"We knew it was our last year, and we wanted to go all out," said Fowles.

For North Carolina (33-3), forced to play before a hostile crowd wearing purple and gold, the loss snapped a 16-game winning streak and left the Tar Heels one victory short of a third straight Final Four appearance.

LaToya Pringle led the Tar Heels with 21 points, all but two coming in the second half.

North Carolina came in with five players averaging double figures in scoring, but Pringle was the only one to eclipse 10.

"Defense has been our bread and butter all year," Fowles said. "We knew if we came out here and played defense, our offense would pick up."

After the buzzer sounded, Chancellor coached 19 years at Mississippi. He then moved on to the WNBA, where he won four titles with the Houston Comets. He also won a FIBA world championship in 2002 and Olympic gold in 2004 before a brief retirement. That ended when LSU needed a coach because of the resignation of Pokey Chatman amid reports of an improper relationship with a player.

Quianna Chaney scored 13 points for LSU, hitting three 3-pointers. Erica White had eight points, six on free throws inside the last two minutes to help LSU prevent a North Carolina comeback.

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