BATON ROUGE – The No. 12 LSU women’s basketball team used a balanced scoring attack as seven players collected five-plus points, and the Lady Tigers secured a convincing 69-46 victory over Florida Gulf Coast Tuesday at the Maravich Center.
LSU (9-1) extended its winning streak to seven games and has notched six of its nine victories on the season by double digits. In the process, the Lady Tigers also avenged a 76-70 road setback to Florida Gulf Coast (5-4) from last season.
“We talked about in the second half how we didn’t want to give them a full shot clock because they did such a great job having ball patience and movement without the basketball,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “I’m very proud of our team of taking the challenge and defending 94 feet.”
All 10 of LSU’s players who saw action scored a point and grabbed a rebound. The Lady Tigers were paced by Raigyne Moncrief, who poured in a team-leading 11 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. It was Moncrief’s sixth consecutive and eighth overall double figure scoring output on the season.
Jasmine Rhodes chipped in 10 points and four steals off the bench. It was the second-highest career scoring performance for Rhodes. Theresa Plaisance came away with nine points and eight rebounds, while DaShawn Harden provided seven points. The trio played a big part in LSU’s 35-12 scoring edge in bench points.
LSU connected on 23-of-56 from the floor, 2-of-10 from three-point territory and 21-of-25 at the foul line. The 84.0 percent free throw clip was a season-best for the Lady Tigers.
LSU’s defense forced the Eagles into 21 turnovers and scored 33 of the game’s 47 points off turnovers. The Lady Tigers also dominated the glass and held a 44-25 rebounding advantage. Jeanne Kenney nearly tallied her first career double-double with eight points and a game-leading 10 rebounds.
Florida Gulf Coast attempted 36 of its 50 field goals from three-point range. The Eagles were 17-of-50 shooting, 12-of-36 from the three-point line and misfired all four of their free throw attempts. Sarah Hanson paced the Eagles with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
The Lady Tigers seized the momentum early and raced out to an 8-0 advantage at the 14:54 mark of the opening half capped by Rhodes and Plaisance baskets. LSU’s defense forced the Eagles to misfire on their first nine field goal attempts.
Florida Gulf Coast fired back with eight consecutive points of its own and evened the ledger at 8-8 with 9:57 remaining on a Stephanie Haas lay-up.
LSU answered right back with seven quick points over the next 1:47 finished off by a Moncrief traditional three-point play to go up 15-8.
The Eagles got back to within 20-16 on a Hanson triple with 5:58 to go, but LSU ripped off 15 straight points to take a 35-16 lead into the locker room. Moncrief ignited the spurt with a jumper followed by consecutive Hill baskets. On the defensive end, the Lady Tigers forced FGCU into nine missed shots and two turnovers during the spurt.
Florida Gulf Coast got as close as 11 points on two occasions in the second half, the latest at 43-32 at the 11:59 mark on a Hanson jumper.
LSU put the game away with a 12-point flurry over the next 3:00 to surge ahead by a 55-32 margin. The Lady Tigers knocked down all eight of their free throw attempts coupled with a Ballard steal and layup and a Harden jumper.
LSU travels to North Carolina State Friday to play its third game over a six-day stretch. Tip time is slated for 6 p.m. CT. The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Talk 107.3 FM in the Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live with Patrick Wright on the call.
LSU Head Coach Nikki Caldwell
December 17, 2013
On defending FGCU in the second half…
“We knew that we’d have to help out each other and play off each other. We talked about in the second half how we didn’t want to give them a full shot clock because they did such a great job having ball patience and movement without the basketball. I’m very proud of our team of taking the challenge and defending 94 feet.”
On defending a FGCU’s 3-point shooters…
“We knew how good Florida Gulf Coast was as far as putting up and making threes. We also knew from last year how good they were at scoring in the paint. We didn’t want to overextend our defense. We wanted to make sure we had very strong side defense. I felt at times we did break down and give up corner threes. But, in any matchup a coach would tell you that’s a vulnerable part of our defense. A lot of credit to our team for extending our defense, pressing and turning them over, which led to transition baskets, and that, is what we need.”
On turning up the defensive pressure…
“We looked at the lineups, and I thought Danielle Ballard in the second half really dialed it up. We’re really trying to throw different looks at our opponents and be better in that area. There were times when we did really well, and we were able to delay and take time off the clock or we got a 10-second violation call in the backcourt. Mixing it up defensively is something that we are going to continue to explore.”
On Danielle Ballard’s aggressiveness in the second half…
“The great thing about this group is we can really get after our opponent more aggressively in the backcourt. I like that we have different players playing different spots in our defense and our full court pressure. That versatility has really helped us in these last couple of games.”
On LSU’s ability to use all of its players…
“We hope that our team is coming into its own and understanding that we are only going to be as good as our weakest link. We want them understanding that we need everybody to contribute. We need everybody to have the opportunity to get out there and showcase what they can bring to our team. We’re allowing them to do that not only in the game but also in practice. The versatility of our team and the fact that we can go with different lineups is going to make us harder to guard. That will give us the legs that we need and the stamina to disrupt people in the full court and half court situation.”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
G Raigyne Moncrief
On what it was like defending a team that shoots so many three-point field goals…
“They’re a tough team. Everybody can shoot so it’s kind of tough, but we made it work. They got some shots off on us though. They’re a great team.”
On where the second half spark came from…
“It started on defense. Once we got that spark on defense, our offense started to fall into place. Coach [Nikki Caldwell] said we needed to start on the defensive end – make some plays and make some stops. After that, our offense started to flow.”
G Jeanne Kenney
On the team’s defensive performance tonight…
“We knew Florida Gulf Coast was either a three-point shooting team, or they were going to shoot layups. There was no real mid-range (game) from watching film in previous games. We had to take away one of them, and our strong point is taking away the paint. I thought we did a very good job with that. We got a little caught up with dropping down and not staying in our area. But other than that, we adjusted well. We played hard and covered for each other. That was the real difference.”
On the team’s depth on the bench…
“The strong point is that we have so much off the bench. If you think to last year, we had seven players at the end [of last year]. So, we had literally two players on the bench. That’s definitely our strong suit. Getting in a rhythm comes with our defense. When our defensive presence is there, we don’t hesitate when we’re shooting.”
Florida Gulf Coast Head Coach Karl Smesko
“In the first half our offensive execution was poor. We didn’t play at a very good pace. LSU’s defense is too good and they have too much size and quickness to hold the ball. I didn’t think we changed our pace offensively until we came out for the second half. By that time we dug ourselves into a 20-point hole. You can’t compete against a top-20 team and dig yourself into a hole like that with expectations to win.
On a teachable moment…
“We have a chance to play LSU and we think we have a pretty good program. This is a great opportunity for us to be here. To play with the type of intensity we did in the first half was kind of embarrassing. I think we will learn from this experience.”