Getty Images

The defending champion LSU Tigers dug deep on Saturday to get past UCLA, 78-69, in the Sweet 16 round of the 2024 NCAA Women's Tournament. The Tigers were down by three with less than three minutes to play, but closed the game on a furious 14-2 run to advance. They will now face the winner of Iowa and Colorado in the Elite Eight on Monday. 

Both teams struggled to find a rhythm early, and the score remained tied at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers then used a surge at the end of the first half to take the lead into the break, but the Bruins responded with a run of their own in the third to tie it back up heading into the fourth. 

Suddenly, both teams sprung to life and started trading baskets left and right. When Angel Reese picked up her fourth foul with 8:16 to play, it seemed the Bruins had the opening they needed, but freshman Mikaylah Williams scored three consecutive baskets for the Tigers to keep pace. Still, it was the Bruins holding a narrow lead as the clock ticked below three minutes. 

From that point on, however, it was all Tigers. Aneesah Morrow scored inside, then Angel Reese converted two free throws to give them the lead for good. Flau'jae Johnson, who had a tremendous game, then followed that up with an impressive block on the other end, drawing a foul in the process. The Tigers lived at the free throw line over the final minute as they pulled away. 

"We've known all year it's gonna come down to the last plays and the last possession," Reese said. "Being able to get stops and scoring and being able to get stops and continue to score was really vital for us." 

Johnson finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks to lead the way for the Tigers and continue an impressive tournament run. Reese added 16 points, 11 rebounds and four steals despite dealing with foul trouble and eventually fouling out in the final minute. 

"I think we just take it one game at a time," Johnson said. "We're high right now off of this dub, but we'll give ourselves until like 4:30 and then we're locked in to the next game. You gotta have that mindset going into the tournament. You have to have a short attention span. Yeah, I had a good game, but now I have to flush it if we really want to go far in the tournament. 

"I just love this team's togetherness. We just have that experience. My experience as a team is just flush it. Game was good, OK, cool, but we gotta watch film and we gotta dominate the next one as well."