Lady Tigers Fall to Samford, 47-44
Sr. Assoc. Communications Director
BATON ROUGE, La. --- The Lady Tiger women’s basketball team closed out their non-league schedule with a 47-44 loss to Samford Monday evening at the Maravich Center. Senior Anne Pedersen led LSU’s efforts with a career-high 15 points.
LSU falls to 6-7 on the year and Samford improved to 8-6. The series between the two teams is now tied 1-1.
LSU was down 26-18 at the half and used a 6-0 run to open the third quarter and cut the deficit to two points but did not manage to swing the momentum in their favor despite outscoring Samford 14-11 in the third period. The Lady Tigers clawed their way through the fourth quarter and managed to tie the score at 44-44 with just under a minute left in the game on a layup by Alexis Hyder. Samford’s Brittany Stevens pushed the Bulldogs ahead by two with a layup with 31 seconds left in the game. Coming out of a timeout, Ann Jones’ three-point attempt fell short and LSU then was forced to foul and Taylor Reece hit the second of two free throws for the three-point lead and the eventual 47-44 victory.
“A lot of credit goes to Samford for coming out and playing with a lot of hustle,” said LSU head coach Nikki Fargas. “I thought they did a great job of running down a lot of those 50-50 balls. We had opportunities to not only take the lead but also to push away. We didn’t capitalize on the defensive stops that we did get. We had a lot of good looks, but we weren’t scoring the basketball.”
The Lady Tigers used a new starting lineup combination of Rina Hill, Jasmine Rhodes, Jones, Pedersen and Shanice Norton. Hill is the only Lady Tiger to start all 13 games this season. Jones and Rhodes made their first starts of the season versus the Bulldogs.
Pedersen scored 15 points off a 6-of-10 effort from the field. Her previous career high was 14 points last season against Florida. She hit her only three-point attempt and was a perfect 2-of-2 from the free-throw line in 30 minutes of action. She also led the squad with six rebounds.
“Anne did a much better job for us of rebounding the basketball and was our leading rebounder tonight,” said Fargas. “She shot the ball well and she was aggressive to basket. She was a little beat up, but she did what she had to do to try and will our team to victory.”
“Rina Hill played well for us,” added Fargas. “She played 40 minutes. She lays it on the line every night. Every day, you know that you are going to get a player that is going to work hard for you. She came up with a huge charge for us, which is a momentum play. She just brings that type of energy to our team.”
Hill, who has played more than 34 minutes in the last six games, was second on the team in scoring with eight points. She also led the team in assists with four, and hauled in three rebounds.
The Lady Tigers outscored Samford, 26-21, in the second half, but the first half deficit was too much to overcome. LSU was 18-of-54 from the field and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe for the game. Samford outrebounded LSU, 38-32. Samford’s lead was also aided by the long ball, as the Bulldogs hit 8-of-26 three pointers. Kassidy Blevins and Taylor Reece had multiple treys with three and two, respectively.
LSU only turned the ball over nine times in the contest for the third game this season that they have limited the miscues to under 10. LSU did score nine points off 14 Samford turnovers.
The Lady Tigers struggled to get into an offensive rhythm in the first half, shooting just 26.9 percent (7-26) from the field. LSU was 2-of-2 from the free-throw line and 2-of-5 from three-point range. Jones hit the first trey of her career in the first quarter. Pedersen led LSU in scoring in the first half with five points. She snapped a first-quarter scoring drought hitting a three pointer with one second remaining on the clock. The Lady Tigers went over five minutes without a score in the first quarter, going 1-of-10 during that span.
Samford was 8-of-20 from the field in the first half, including a 6-of-16 mark from three-point range. Samford outrebounded LSU, 20-13. Reece led Samford in the first half with eight points.
The Lady Tigers will open SEC action at Alabama on Sunday, Jan. 3. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. in Tuscaloosa. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
LSU COACH AND PLAYER QUOTES
Head Coach Nikki Fargas
Opening statement …
“I give a lot of credit to Samford. Not only have they been playing like they are on the cusp with some other teams like Georgia Tech and Indiana, they’ve been right there in turning the corner and today was a game that they were allowed to turn the corner. We had a game plan and it looked like we were executing it. I thought we got some good defensive stops that we wanted and we adjusted. We were able to dictate, especially the second half by only allowing 21 points to Samford. Offensively we struggled. We have to understand that we’ve got to play on both sides of the basketball.”
On Samford’s outside shots …
“We knew when you play a match-up zone that the corner threes are what you give up but our game plan was to allow them to shoot those but they should have been contested. When we came in at the half, we had 13 uncontested shots, which led to 18 points. We’ve got to understand that running at an offensive player in motion with the correct hand up can make her alter that shot but we settled in in the second half in guarding the three ball. They took 10 in the second half and we were just better at being there on the catch to contest it. A team like Samford obviously runs a five-out type leadership and we didn’t want to let them get those easy paint points and backdoor us. We chose to make them shoot contested jump shots. In the second half we limited them to 21 points. Forty-seven points, you can live with that on the defensive side, they only shot 32% for the game. We offensively struggled. We’ve got to go back and look at how we can help this team make baskets. What else can we be doing as a staff to help them focus in on making layups and wide-open jump shots.”
“I think you’ve got to have a sense of urgency and there is an urgency that we know as a staff because we’ve been in this position for so long. I still go back to we have to have leadership. The two young ladies up here, Anne Pedersen and Rina Hill, they definitely lead but more by example. You’re not going to get two harder working players. We’ve got to have that vocal leader at times on the floor that will give it to the players, each other in a positive way and they’ll respond. I think that’s what we are missing, that internal leadership to say ‘no more, we are going to get this done and we are going to turn this around.’”
On the change in the starting lineup and Jasmine Rhodes and Ann Jones making their first starts of the season…
“We had a suspension of Akilah Bethel for violation of team policy that forced a change. Obviously your conduct and behavior has consequences. We also wanted to go with a lineup that presented more of a defensive front and we wanted to really explore running our press and even though you don’t have Akilah Bethel, the athleticism, the rebound ability of Jasmine Rhodes and I think that’s something that she can do for us. Jasmine (Rhodes) is a junior in our program and she’s also someone that can rebound and we’ve been struggling in that area. Ann Jones has always been someone that you can insert into a starting lineup. I like how she played big for us, especially in the second half. The first half, her getting into foul trouble, in the first quarter, that really hurt us and she’s got to be on the floor. Her presence in the paint gave us a little bit more size to cut back some of their size. The decision to change up the lineup was really based on a defensive unit and a rebounding unit.”
On Ann Jones’ shot at the end that fell short…
“I’m fine with Jones taking that shot. I think she’s somebody who has shown that she can knock that shot down. She’s somebody who earned being able to take that shot and through her play tonight she definitely earned the right to take that shot.”
On her career-high scoring performance …
“It’s tough when you lose. It doesn’t feel as important. You know, I tried to do what I could to push the team and carry my load. Like Coach said, it should have never come down to leaving the last shot on AJ’s (Ann Jones) shoulders. We just have to regroup from here and do better.”
SAMFORD COACH AND PLAYER QUOTES
Head Coach Mike Morris
“We’re very excited for our players. We’ve been close a couple of times against some bigger schools this year. To come down here and beat an SEC team on their floor and defend the way we did, I’m super excited for them; they deserve it. It’s a big deal for schools like us to be able to come in here and beat an SEC school.”
On if the game plan going in included having 16 of 20 first half shots go from three-point range…
“We knew they would play zone, and we got some things around the goal, and then really what we tried to do, from an offensive standpoint, was go inside out and get the ball in and kick it out. I thought most of them were pretty good threes, and that’s kind of what we do. We shoot those a lot in practice, so it’s definitely by design, but we want to try to get it in first. When they play a zone like that, that’s usually the shot (LSU) sometimes gives up.”
C Taylor Reece
On her thoughts on beating an SEC opponent on the road…
“I definitely agree with what Coach said; I just think this time was different. We just came into the game. We decided that we were going to win because we’ve been so close, and we’ve known how heartbreaking that is, and it’s way worse than losing by a lot sometimes, so it was really fun.”
On LSU’s last shot to tie the game at the end of the fourth quarter…
“I knew they were probably trying to get it to Deemer (Jenna Deemer). She’s their best player, so our game plan was really just don’t foul, and don’t let them shoot a three. I think we executed really well.”