FORT MYERS, Fla. - Sarah Hansen scored a game-high 30 points and converted four free throws in the final 38 seconds as Florida Gulf Coast upset the LSU Lady Tigers, 76-70, in front of 2,239 fans in Alico Arena on Friday night.
Hansen was a perfect 14-of-14 from the free throw line for the Eagles (7-5), who finished 23-of-24 as a team from the line. Getting to the free throw line and a 7-of-30 effort from three-point land proved to be the recipe for the upset against LSU, which dropped to 8-4 overall and lost to an Atlantic Sun Conference team for the first time.
Four Lady Tigers finished with double-digit scoring. Theresa Plaisance had a team-high 19 points before fouling out with 8:26 left in the game. Danielle Ballard and Bianca Lutley had 18 points apiece, while Adrienne Webb contributed 13 points. Jeanne Kenney pulled down seven rebounds.
"We struggled to matchup with them on the defensive and we didn't execute our game plan," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "We knew they were a great offensive team that likes to shoot threes or make lay-ups. We didn't do a very good job and we let them get into isolation situations. Offensive rebounds were energy givers for them."
Plaisance left the game after drawing her fourth foul and then an ensuing technical foul. LSU trailed 57-54 following the foul shots, but Ballard countered with two free throws of her own and then a lay-up off a Kenney assist. The Lady Tigers held a 62-59 lead after Lutley's bucket with 5:12 remaining in the game.
"When you lose her (Theresa Plaisance) early, it's going to be a tough one," said Caldwell. "She's our go-to player. We tried to establish her inside and she was able to convert."
It would be LSU's final lead as Hansen took over down the stretch. She converted an old-fashioned three-point play at the 4:15 mark that gave the Eagles a 64-62 advantage. LSU was able to cut it to two points, 70-68, with 0:47 left after a Ballard steal that led to two Kenney free throws and an ensuing Ballard lay-up.
However, a foul on the other end with the shot clock winding down sent Hansen to the line who made two and then two more after an LSU shot was no good on the other end. Trailing 74-70, Ballard missed a cutting lay-up with 0:15 remaining before time ran out.
Florida Gulf Coast, which set an NCAA record for three-point field goals last year, attempted 30 treys - over half of its 57 field goal attempts on the night. The Eagles own one of the nation's toughest home court advantages having lost only 11 of its 165 games in Alico Arena.
LSU out-shot Florida Gulf Coast, 46.2 percent to 40.4 percent.
The Lady Tigers wrap up non-conference play at home against New Orleans at 2 p.m. on New Year's Eve Monday.