Lady Tigers' Valiant Effort Comes Up Short at USC
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Ieasia Walker scored a game-high 24 points and buried a clutch three that broke a 50 all tie as No. 18 South Carolina survived a valiant effort from the LSU Lady Tigers, 66-59, on Thursday night in Carolina Coliseum.
LSU (11-7, 2-3 SEC) rallied from deficits of 10 points in the first half and eight points in the second stanza in what was a physical game against the Southeastern Conference's No. 1 defensive team. South Carolina entered the game third in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 47.1 points per game. The Gamecocks converted their free throws down the stretch and improved to 15-3 overall and 3-2 in the SEC.
"I saw a different team tonight," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "I saw an LSU team that fought. We came back, made a run and put ourselves in a position to win this game tonight against a very good South Carolina team. We played with a lot of heart."
Theresa Plaisance scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Plaisance reached double-figures for the 17th consecutive game, representing the longest streak by an LSU player since Sylvia Fowles did it in 26 straight games from November 2006-March 2007.
Bianca Lutley added 16 points, and Adrienne Webb ignited the LSU comeback with back-to-back threes as part of her 14-point game. Jeanne Kenney, who missed the Mississippi State game with a shoulder injury, dished out five assists, took two charges defensively and blocked two shots. She left the game midway in the second half after re-aggravating her shoulder injury but she later returned.
LSU trailed 45-37 with 12:14 to play, but the Lady Tigers showed life thanks to their backcourt pressure. Plaisance drained a three, while Lutley converted an acrobatic lay-up and was fouled. Ballard then forced a steal at midcourt and blocked a shot on the ensuing possession. Both critical defensive plays led to Webb lay-ups in transition.
Lutley went through the lane again, made a shot and drew a foul that gave LSU its first lead of the game, 50-48, with 7:30 left in the game. However, with the game tied at 50 apiece, Walker launched a deep three late in the shot clock as South Carolina regained the lead at 53-50 with 5:01 on the clock.
Walker added another lay-up and the Lady Tigers came up empty on two straight possessions as the Gamecocks iced the game at line.
"We really tried to execute on the defensive end," said Caldwell. "There were some possessions where we really wanted to pack it inside. Some of their paint points, they were off turnovers. That really hurt us early. We have to be a team that plays through adversity and we did. We are turning the corner. We can use this game and use it in a positive way to go into Sunday's game."
LSU committed 18 turnovers on the night with 11 of those coming in the first half. That led to 19 points on South Carolina's end. The Gamecocks also held a considerable advantage at the free throw line, making 15-of-24 to the Lady Tigers' 6-of-12.
LSU out-shot South Carolina 46.3 percent to 37.1 percent ... The Lady Tigers' 59 points were the second-most surrendered by the Gamecocks this season ... Tennessee put up 73 points earlier this month ... Thursday's game was played at Carolina Coliseum ... South Carolina's normal arena, Colonial Life Arena, was hosting a concert ... It was the first basketball game played in Carolina Coliseum since March 21, 2002 ... LSU returns home to host Vanderbilt (13-4, 3-1 SEC) at 2 p.m. CT Sunday in the Maravich Center.