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LSU women are back in the dance

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BATON ROUGE -- For the 25th time in school history, the LSU women's basketball team will be playing in the NCAA Tournament as announced on ESPN Monday evening.

As the No. 8 seed, LSU (20-11) will face No. 9 seed California (19-13) at 8 p.m. CT in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Waco, Texas, as part of the Oklahoma City Region. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

In her sixth season as the head coach of the Lady Tigers, this is Nikki Fargas' fifth NCAA Tournament appearance with LSU. In addition to being the program's 25th showing in the post-season event, it is also the 17th time in the last 19 seasons dating back to 1999 that the Lady Tigers are in The Big Dance.

“This team has worked extremely hard to put themselves in this position to see our name called,” said Fargas. “We’re just excited to still be able to play some more basketball. We only have three kids who have played in a Sweet 16, and everyone else is a rookie. To see their reaction, it just brings a humbling feeling because I know all the work that they’ve put into this season. With all of the obstacles they’ve come across and overcame, I know they’re just ready to play basketball.”

The winner of the LSU/California matchup will face the winner of No. 1 seed Baylor and No. 16 seed Texas Southern on Monday.

The LSU Sports Radio Network will carry all of LSU's NCAA Tournament games on its flagship station Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. The radio broadcast featuring Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, also will be available for free at www.LSUsports.net/live. In addition, the ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3) will combine to present all 63 games from the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.

LSU has only faced California twice in the history of the program, and the series is tied 1-1. Both meetings were on neutral courts as LSU defeated Cal, 65-56, in 1981-82 in the Tournament of Champions hosted in Portland, and most recently fell to the Bears, 73-63, in the 2013 Sweet 16 hosted in Spokane, Wash.

A limited number of tickets for the NCAA First and Second Rounds will be available through the LSU Ticket Office for LSU women's basketball season ticket holders, current LSU students, TAF members, and LSU Alumni Association members. Tickets are $20 per session, plus a $5 order charge and are only valid for sessions that LSU plays in. All tickets will need to be picked up at the LSU will-call located at the tournament site. Specific pick-up instructions will be e-mailed on Thursday. The deadline to purchase tickets through the LSU Ticket Office will be Wednesday, March 15, at 5 p.m.

To purchase tickets, call the LSU Ticket Office at (225) 578-2184 or toll free at (800) 960-8587.

LSU is 43-24 in its 24 previous NCAA Tournament appearances. The Lady Tigers rank fourth in the SEC in NCAA Tournament appearances behind Tennessee (36), Georgia (32) and Vanderbilt (27). In its long-time history in the post-season championship, LSU boasts five Final Four appearances as well as 14 Sweet 16 and eight Elite Eight appearances. The Lady Tigers are 16-3 all-time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. LSU won 16-straight first-round games before snapping the streak with a loss to USF in Tampa in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Lady Tigers played 10 teams this season that are slated to participate in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

The Lady Tigers rebounded quickly from an injury-laden 10-21 season in 2015-16, and notched a fourth 20-win season under Fargas. Included among the highlights for the Lady Tigers in 2016-17 was a 13-3 record at the PMAC as well as an 11-2 mark in non-conference action. The two losses in non-league play were to UConn and Kansas State, both of which are nationally ranked. Heading into the tournament, LSU ranks third nationally in steals with 375, while also ranking in the top 20 in steals per game, turnovers forced and turnover margin. In addition, junior Raigyne Moncrief, the 2017 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, ranks fifth in the country in steals with a school-record 106.

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