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No. 3 LSU Tops Fla. International

December 1, 2002

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MIAMI (AP) _ LSU coach Sue Gunter expected a tough game against Florida International. And the Tigers got one.

Doneeka Hodges scored 14 points to pace No. 3 LSU, which took a 10-0 lead but still struggled at times before defeating FIU 68-54 Saturday night in the Thanksgiving Classic.

``We knew coming down here that it was going be to an opportunity for us to play some tough competition,″ Gunter said. ``They’re always very good and to come and win on FIU’s floor is very good for us.″

Hodges made 6-of-10 from the field to lead the Tigers. Aiysha Smith added 13 points and 11 rebounds for LSU (5-0). Seimone Augustus added 12 points and Temeka Johnson 11.

``We weren’t going to take them lightly,″ Smith said. ``We played good transition defense because we knew they liked to run.″

Dace Cinite scored 12 points for Florida International (2-2). Mandy Shafer, Cormisha Cotton and Ivelina Vrancheva added 10 points apiece.

``They got off to some leads and we were able to battle and get back into it,″ Shafer said. ``They apply tremendous defensive pressure and because of fatigue we’re not able to put it away at the end.″

Johnson led LSU’s game-opening run with six points. It was built in part on five Florida International turnovers in the first four minutes.

The Golden Panthers chipped away at the lead, eventually tying the game at 21 with 7:57 remaining in the half. But LSU was ahead 34-26 at the break and was not seriously threatened thereafter.

FIU did cut an 11-point to five with under four minutes to play. But the Golden Panthers went scoreless for more than two minutes down the stretch, and LSU’s Ke-Ke Tandy made two key baskets to end all hope for a comeback.

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