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March Madness: Morris, LSU women top Utah, into Elite Eight

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Alexis Morris hit two foul shots with 10 seconds to play as No. 3 seed LSU reached the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008, beating second-seeded Utah 66-63 on Friday night.

Down 64-63, the Utes had a chance to back in front, but Jenna Johnson — a near 75% foul shooter — missed both attempts with 4.7 seconds to go. Utah’s Dasia Young had her hands on the rebound, but LSU’s Sa’Maya Smith took it away.

Morris added two more foul shots for a three-point lead. The Utes had a final chance, but Young’s 3-point try from the left corner hit the side of the backboard as time expired.

LaDazDazhia Williams scored a season-high 24 points and Angel Reese had her 30th double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds for LSU (31-2). Morris finished with 15 points.

Coach Kim Mulkey’s team will face ninth-seeded Miami on Sunday night for a spot in the Final Four. The Hurricanes overcame fourth-seeded Villanova and the nation’s leading scorer Maddy Siegrist 70-65 earlier at the Greenville 2 Regional.

LSU hadn’t advance this far since reaching the Final Four 15 years ago. This is Mulkey’s second season coaching the Tigers.

Williams, a fifth-year grad transfer who played at South Carolina and Missouri, was dominant down low as she made 11 of 14 shots and finished a point shy of her career best.

Gianna Kneepkens led Utah (27-5) with 20 points. Alissa Pili, a second-team AP All-American, had 14 points, but took just eight shots as LSU denied her the ball.

The Tigers came out fast as Reese and Morris helped build a 13-6 lead.

But Utah, the Pac 12 regular-season champions, were on its own mission to win three games in an NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. The Utes put together a 19-5 run behind the outside shooting of Kennady McQueen and Kneepkens.

Kneepkens’ jumper with five minutes left pushed Utah’s lead to 25-18 with LSU starters Kateri Poole and Reese on the bench with two fouls apiece.

Reese, Poole and fellow LSU starter Flau’jae Johnson fouled out in the final minutes.

BIG PICTURE

LSU: The Tigers are out for more and it starts against underdog Miami on Sunday. If Williams can continue her inside play to combine with All-American Reese, LSU will be tough to handle.

Utah: The Utes are coming off a season where they achieved big things, including back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 2008 and 2009. Utah can be every bit as successful next season with Pili, just a junior, back to lead the way.

SPECIAL GUEST

LSU football coach Brian Kelly took a break from the Tigers spring football workouts to cheer on his school’s women’s basketball team. Kelly sat in the front row across from the LSU bench, following the action intently in the tight contest. The football Tigers are coming off a 10-4 season where they won the SEC Western Division in Kelly’s first season.

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AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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