BATON ROUGE - The LSU women's basketball team ended non-conference play on a high note by defeating the New Orleans Lady Privateers, 87-61, on New Year's Eve in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Lady Privateers (1-13) were led by seniors Keri Thomas, who scored 21 points, along with Mehel'le Thomas and Mirjam Sipos who contributed 12 points each.
Theresa Plaisance recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Danielle Ballard added 20 points, seven boards and five steals to lead LSU, which heads into Southeastern Conference play with a 9-4 overall record.
UNO was competitive in the first half making 61.9 percent of their field goals and sinking 6-of-11 three-pointers, but the Lady Tigers were able to up their defense and secure the victory with a second-half run.
"I felt like our awareness, or lack there of, really hurt us early on," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "I think that is our No. 1 problem, lack of awareness. UNO did a great job of setting the tempo at the beginning, but we also turned the ball over."
Plaisance and Ballard served as the catalyst with LSU's second-half defensive effort.
"I didn't even realize until I saw the stat sheet what she had done," said Caldwell of Ballard. "She is so crafty in the way that she scores, whether it is off of penetration or pull up jumpers, she scores in a variety of ways. She is getting better every week. She is adding more and more to our team as far as leadership."
LSU dominated the boards, grabbing 40 to UNO's 20. It's the first time the Lady Tigers had a rebound margin of 20 or more since the Vanderbilt game on Feb. 13, 2012.
"We have to take it one game at a time," said Caldwell. "We have to be better than what we were today, and we definitely have to pick up where we left of in the second half with our defensive intensity. Finally, we have to understand that we have to play with that intensity for 40 minutes."
The Lady Tigers begin SEC play when they host Ole Miss at 7 p.m. Thursday.