BARCELONA – Sophomore guard Danielle Ballard scored a game-high 16 points, including the go-ahead basket with 33 seconds left, and the LSU women’s basketball team stayed true to its defense to hold off the France All-Stars, 55-52, on Wednesday night in Barcelona.
Less than 24 hours after suffering a tough 67-64 defeat to the same French team, the Lady Tigers put that loss behind them and forced France into numerous turnovers while upping its field goal percentage defense.
“We saw a lot of players make some key plays down the stretch,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “I was very pleased with our first year (players). We had a tough situation when (Theresa) Plaisance went out with foul trouble, but players responded on the defensive end. We got the stops needed to solidify the win.”
Ballard took over in the fourth quarter on both ends of the floor, scoring seven points and coming up with several clutch offensive rebounds. With the game tied at 50 apiece, she took a pass from Anne Pedersen at the top of the key and worked her way to the basket for the go-ahead shot with 33 seconds to play.
France came up empty on its next possession, and they fouled LSU freshman guard Rina Hill with 0:22 on the clock. Hill made 1-of-2 free throws and on her miss, Ballard came off out nowhere for the offensive rebound and got it back to Hill, who was fouled again.
Video: Danielle Ballard on her clutch offensive rebound in the final 20 seconds to preserve the… http://t.co/vwjZRGWjhl— LSUWomensBasketball (@LSUwbkb) August 14, 2013
After Hill and fellow freshman Raigyne Moncrief contributed two free throws, France had one last chance to tie the game. Trailing 55-52 with 0.6 seconds left, a potential game-tying three clanged off the side of the goal.
LSU played the final 2:11 without senior Theresa Plaisance, who fouled out after scoring 10 points. Plaisance came alive at the start of the third quarter, scoring the Lady Tigers’ first six points of the frame with quality looks inside. Moncrief finished with nine points, while Hill tallied seven points and ran point guard for most of the game.
“I think our team learned they have to play through adversity,” said Caldwell. “It’s a very physical game. Things aren’t always going to go your way, but if you stay true to the elements of being unselfish, playing together and supporting teammates when they are struggling, those things will help us overcome any adversity.”
When the final horn sounded, LSU fans sang the American national anthem as the team walked off the floor. The Lady Tigers will depart Barcelona at 10:30 a.m. Central European Time Thursday and make the four-hour ride down the Spanish coast via charter bus to Valencia. The team will tour Valencia for two days before visiting Alicante.
LSU plays the Catholic University of Murcia in Alicante at 8 p.m. CET (1 p.m. CT) Saturday.