Stony Brook. 21-0. Temeka Johnson's turnover. Bobby Knight's comeback. The beam in 2015.
When the great disappointments of LSU sports history are recorded, this one is going to rank right up there. An LSU team that had been ranked in the top three all year, looking for its third straight Super Six, and a legitimate threat to win the national didn't even make the Super Six.
LSU fell not once, not twice, by three times on the beam on Friday night, dooming any chances of advancement. LSU finished behind Auburn and Nebraska, two teams it had beaten this month already. 5th place in the Super Six would have been a disappointment, 5th place in the semifinals is a disaster.
LSU's greatest recruiting class goes home empty handed in their senior year. There's no way to sugar coat this one: the team flat out choked. On the biggest stage, in the brightest lights, this team wilted. And worse, it wasn't the first time.
LSU had a fairly dismal postseason even up to this point. LSU scored a 48.975 on the beam in the SEC championships, costing the team the SEC title. LSU struggled, but won easily despite low scores on the bar and the beam in Ames. Then disaster in Ft. Worth, scoring a 48.275 on the beam.
LSU's 196.550 was the team's lowest score of the season, and the 197.175 in Ames was the team's third lowest score of the season. In the postseason, when it mattered most, the team put its worst foot forward and put up its lowest scores of the season.
LSU capped off a depressing competition by Lloimincia Hall slipping on her final tumbling run, costing her a shot at the individual floor exercise title. But she was far from alone in having a bad day. It seemed everyone saved their worst for the last.
LSU gymnastics made huge strides this season, not just on the mats, but also in the consciousness of the students and the fan base. LSU spent the year selling out meets and breaking attendance records. This was the most fun to be had on campus, and the gym team started to pull attention away even from the baseball team. They have become stars in their own right.
That's all well and good, but with heightened attention comes heightened scrutiny. They don't just get a pat on the head and a "good job". This was a choke job, and it leaves a stain on what was shaping up to be a magical season. LSU fans fell in love with this team this year, and then they broke our hearts.
This is one of the worst defeats in LSU history. It would have been one thing had the team made it to the Super Six and fallen short. That happens, and Oklahoma and Florida were the favorites all year anyway. But to fail to even make it to the Super Six didn't even seem possible.
This team just never found that extra gear in the postseason. If anything, they downshifted. And the greatest recruiting class in LSU history goes home empty handed.
The only positive is that we care enough for it to hurt this much. Five years ago, this isn't even a story. This a shrug of the shoulders and we all move on. But now that the gymnastics team has become a legitimate part of the LSU fan's retinue, this loss looms a lot larger.
This was the team that was supposed to ease the heartbreak, not make it worse.