Danielle Ballard capped a 16-point performance by hitting a key free throw with 4 seconds to go, and LSU held off Green Bay 75-71 Sunday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Theresa Plaisance also scored 16, Adrienne Webb added 15 and Bianca Lutley 13 for sixth-seeded LSU (21-11), which saw an 18-point lead nearly evaporate in the second half, but survived to meet Penn State in the second round Tuesday night.
Sarah Eichler hit four 3-pointers and scored 22 for No. 11 seed Green Bay (29-3), the Horizon League champion, which had its 24-game winning streak end as it was bounced from the tournament in the first round for the first time since losing to LSU in Baton Rouge in 2009.
Adrian Ritchie added 16 points for the Phoenix but fouled out with 3:05 left. Jenny Gilberston added 15 points and Lydia Bauer 11 points.
Green Bay, known for its 3-point shooting, hit 12 of 28, with Gilbertson and Bauer hitting three apiece.
But LSU was more efficient from deep, attempting only 14 3s and hitting nine. Both teams shot 49 percent and had 29 rebounds each in what turned out to be an evenly matched game, even though it didn't look that way throughout.
Webb hit three 3s and another jumper early in the second half, sparking an 18-5 run that put LSU ahead by 17 points at 49-32.
LSU led by as many as 18 when Plaisance followed her banked 3 with a putback to make it 54-36 with a 12:38 to go.
The Phoenix found a way to make a game of it by pressing on defense and hitting 3s in bunches.
Ritchie ignited the comeback when she scored as she was fouled for a 3-point play. Then Ritchie, Gilbertson and Eichler hit consecutive 3s to cap a 12-2 run which cut it to 65-61 with 5:06 to go.
Lutley responded with a clutch 3 and added another three-point play on a driving layup as she was fouled to briefly interrupt Green Bay's momentum. But the Phoenix were as close as 72-69 after Megan Lukan's 3 with 49 seconds left.
A critical offensive rebound by Ballard extended a late LSU possession that ended with Plaisance's free throws after Green Bay fouled her intentionally, but Lukan once against made it a three-point game with a layup with 9 seconds left.
LSU then was able to get the ball to Ballard, who made a free throw to virtually seal it.
Green Bay started fast, taking an 11-4 lead on Gilbertson's 3. Then Plaisance responded with a 3 of her own, Lutley followed with another 3 and the game remained close for the remainder of the half.
The score was tied at 25 late in the half when Ballard's jumper, Lutley's layup and Webb's 3 put LSU into the lead, 32-25 before Ritchie's free throws cut it to 32-27 at halftime.