EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern junior center Amy Jaeschke scored 19 of her game-high 28 points in the second half and the Wildcats pulled away from LSU in the final minutes to deal the Lady Tigers a 71-62 loss in their season-opener on Sunday in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
LSU (0-1) saw a streak of seven consecutive victories over Big 10 Conference teams come to an end and the Lady Tigers dropped to 30-6 all-time in season-openers. LSU was opening on the road for the first time since 2005 against a much improved Northwestern team that returned all four starters from its WNIT club from a season ago.
The Wildcats (2-0) outscored LSU 14-8 in the final 4:00 after the Lady Tigers had battled back from a 10-point deficit to tie the contest at 49-49. Jaeschke, a Naismith Trophy candidate, shot 8-of-20 from the floor and took advantage of LSU's second-half foul trouble. She finished 11-of-15 from the free throw line.
"Northwestern executed well and we did not," LSU head coach Van Chancellor said. "We couldn't make a shot and had several times to win this game. You can't let another team shoot 27 free throws and expect to win. We have a lot of things to clear up before we play a great Ohio State team. We need to find some consistency in knocking down shots."
Sophomore guard Adrienne Webb, making her first career start, tied a career high with 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Latear Eason, a Chicago native playing in front of dozens of family and friends, scored 12 points and finished 3-of-3 from 3-point range. Freshman Jeanne Kenney had eight points in her debut.
"I thought (Latear) Eason played a great game," said Chancellor. "I was proud for her, especially with her family here. We are going to need that play from her this season."
LSU's returning leading scorer LaSondra Barrett struggled from the floor, shooting only 3-of-14 and finishing with seven points. Barrett never found a rhythm in the first half making just one of her first nine shots.
After a dismal shooting performance in the first 20 minutes, LSU came alive in the second stanza and shot 46.9 percent in the final 20 minutes. Northwestern out-rebounded the Lady Tigers, 43-38, including a game-high 17 rebounds from Brittany Orbon.
LSU trailed by 10 points in the first two minutes of the second half. Webb sparked the comeback with a jumper that made it 43-40 with 11:26 to go. The Lady Tigers then tied the contest for the first time since the 12:53 mark in the first half when she converted a 3-pointer from the left wing in transition. The score was tied at 49 apiece with 7:07 left in the game.
With LSU already in the double bonus midway through the second half, Northwestern went on a 9-0 run starting at the 3:59 mark. Beth Marshall made two free throws, Orban fired in a 3-pointer from the left wing and Jaeschke converted a layup to put it away, 66-54, with 2:15 left.
LSU finished 35.3 percent from the floor, while Northwestern shot 35.3 percent.
LSU put itself in a tough situation on the road, shooting only 25.0 percent (9-of-36) from the floor in the first 20 minutes. Kenney led the Lady Tigers with five points off the bench in the first half.
Jaeschke started slow but found her way to the free throw line and finished the half with nine points, including 5-of-6 from the line. The Wildcats took their largest lead of the first half into the locker room by a score of 29-22.
LSU returns to Baton Rouge to face seventh-ranked Ohio State at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday in the home opener at the Maravich Center. The home opener is a Student Point Game and all LSU students with a valid university ID are admitted free. There will be a student lounge area with free food (while supplies last) and the opportunity to challenge other students in video games.
The winner of a halftime contest will be awarded four complimentary tickets to the LSU-Ole Miss football game, four pre-game sideline passes in Tiger Stadium, a convenient parking pass and official Nike team gear. The first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a free Lady Tigers cheering fan.