Lady Tigers Ready for Alabama Rematch at SEC's
DULUTH, Ga. – The LSU women’s basketball team turns its attention to postseason play and meets Alabama during Thursday’s second round of the 2014 SEC Tournament held at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Earlier today, the Lady Tigers took part in a 45-minute workout on the arena floor.
Thursday’s tip time is slated for 5 p.m. CT with the game being televised by Fox Sports Network (FSN), SportSouth (SPSO) and http://www.watchespn.com/. Dave Baker and Nell Fortner will serve as the announcing team. In Baton Rouge, the game will be carried on FSN New Orleans (Channel 1037 on Cox Cable).
The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone for subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, will have the radio call.
LSU (18-11) finished tied for sixth place in the SEC standings but are the No. 10 seed. The Lady Tigers will look to snap a six-game losing streak which is the program’s longest since the 1994-95 season.
During the regular season, LSU played the nation’s toughest schedule with 23 of its 29 games against RPI Top 100 opponents. The Lady Tigers are one of 16 programs in the nation to possess 12-plus top 100 RPI victories and play host the NCAA Tournament First & Second Rounds on March 23-25.
LSU will look to avenge a 78-60 loss to Alabama (14-15) during Sunday’s regular season finale where the Crimson Tide converted on 34-of-50 at the free throw line. The victory also enabled Alabama to end a 16-game winning streak by the Lady Tigers in the all-time series.
“It’s hard to believe how quickly this season has wrapped up,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “Now we’re into a new season, and I expressed with our team that everybody at this point is 0-0. Everybody is starting from ground zero, and you want to put yourself in position to be the last man standing. That’s our goal. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish going into the SEC tournament. We’ve to take it one breath at a time. This team has the capability of doing great things. They’ve shown that they can get on the road and win. They’ve shown that they can come back from deficit, and they’ve shown that they can get leads. They’re going to have another opportunity in a very competitive tournament to show that. We’ve got three seniors who are going to lead the attack, and we’ve got followers.”
Theresa Plaisance, an All-SEC First-Team honoree for the second straight season, is the only player to be ranked among the SEC’s Top 10 in points (15.6), rebounds (7.6) and blocks (1.4) per game. She has improved her scoring average to 17.7 points per game in SEC action, third on the league leaderboard. The New Orleans native has garnered figures in 19 consecutive games this season and 36 straight games versus SEC opponents dating back to the 2010-11. Plaisance tallied 26 points at Alabama, her 20-plus point performance. She also equaled a program single-game record with nine blocked shots.
Raigyne Moncrief became the fourth player in LSU history to notch All-SEC Freshman-Team honors joining Allison Hightower (2007), LaSondra Barrett (2008) and Danielle Ballard (2013). She has collected 10.6 points per game, fifth among SEC freshmen. Defensively, Moncrief has accounted for 1.9 steals per game which is seventh in the SEC rankings. The Florida native has come off the bench during LSU’s last two games after she missed the Arkansas game due to injury.
“It’s a tribute to the team when a teammate is recognized because Theresa has done a really great job year in and year out of being that go to player for us,” Caldwell said. “But she also understands that she would not be that player without the help of her teammates. It’s great that Moncrief was recognized because I think that she is going to become one of the best players in the country. She has the potential and work ethic to do that. It’s great that she’s back in rhythm for us, and it definitely put a strain on us the past couple of weeks not having her 100 percent. She’s very gracious and humble as well.”
Ballard has secured 8.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. She has tallied seven of her 10 double figure scoring efforts in SEC games which include all three of her 20-plus point efforts on the road versus Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
DaShawn Harden has broken into LSU’s starting lineup over the last three games. She has picked up 11.5 points per game in her six games as a starter ignited by a trio of double figure contests. Harden has been a valuable asset of the bench and totaled 48.0 percent of LSU’s bench points in her 13 SEC appearances.
Jeanne Kenney has come away with 11.4 points per game and notched 10 of her 16 games in double figures during SEC play. Kenney had buried a team-leading 65 triples this season whereas her 131 career treys are seventh on LSU’s all-time list. As a team, LSU has posted a 42.5 three-point percentage in its seven SEC wins compared to a 26.7 percent ratio during its nine SEC losses.
Shanece McKinney has added 7.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. The Lady Tigers has won all seven games this season when McKinney gets 10-plus points. The last time she accomplished the feat was with a career-high 19 points on 7-of-7 shooting against Mississippi State.
Alabama has won three of its last four decisions with the lone exception being a double overtime decision at Auburn. The Crimson Tide picked up seven SEC wins under first-year coach Kristy Curry for the first time since 2001-02 and has three players averaging in double figures led by Shafontaye Myers 14.3 points per game. The senior guard pumped in 15 points and became the 24th player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points during the LSU win.
Alabama also received double figures from Sharin Rivers, Daisha Simmons and Ashley Williams. Williams, an All-SEC Freshman-Team selection, tallied 14 points and 10 rebounds versus the Lady Tigers. The trio of Myers, Simmons and Williams has chipped in 40.6 of the team’s 64.8 points per game.
“That feeling we had in the locker room (after Sunday’s Alabama loss) – as a competitor, you don’t let that happen again,” Caldwell said. “On the flip side of it, they had success against us so I know they have a level of confidence against us as well. At the end of the day, it’s going to be a whole new ball game. What happened on Sunday is in the past. What’s going to happen on Thursday will mater the most, and that’s what you’ll have to face and go after.”
The winner of Thursday’s LSU-Alabama contest will square off with No. 2 seed Tennessee in the quarterfinal round at 5 p.m. CT on Friday. As one of the four top seeds for the SEC Tournament, the Lady Vols earned a bye to the quarterfinals.
For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/womensbasketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuwbkb along with @lsuwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter.