BATON ROUGE -- The LSU women's basketball team built a double-digit lead four minutes in and surrendered a season-low 42 points as Nikki Caldwell won her 100th game as a head coach in a 76-42 Lady Tiger blowout of East Tennessee State on Thursday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Caldwell, who won 72 games at UCLA and now 28 games early in her second season at LSU, stressed all week to the team about not coming out flat on both ends of the floor following a tough loss to Tulane last Sunday. The Lady Tigers (5-3) showed no signs of that defeat lingering as every player who saw action scored and contributed in some fashion.
"I'm very thankful for one, my coaching staff, who has been with me the entire way, then all the great players that I've been able to coach that have helped those wins," said Caldwell. "I just really hope that there more milestones that we reach here at LSU. Winning a national championship is the ultimate goal, and it's something that you strive for. It's great to have that 100th win, but there are also a lot more victories out there to be had."
Theresa Plaisance led the way with a game-high 16 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and two steals. Plaisance, who blocked eight shots against the Green Wave, now has a combined 14 blocks in the last two games.
Caldwell started a new lineup on Thursday without the services of senior guard Adrienne Webb, who was recovering from a head injury she sustained in the Tulane game. Anne Pedersen made her first career start and delivered seven points in 29 minutes. Shanece McKinney started for the first time this season and scored eight points to go along with a career-best nine rebounds.
Freshman Derreyal "Tank" Youngblood made her biggest contribution of the season, coming off the bench for 13 points and five rebounds. Fellow freshman Danielle Ballard reached double-figures for the fifth consecutive game with 11 points.
Ballard set the tone for LSU offensively, dishing out a season-best six assists. Senior Bianca Lutley contributed a career-high eight assists as the Lady Tigers racked up 34 field goals on a season-high 24 assists.
LSU shot a blistering 53.1 percent from the floor and clamped down on the Lady Bucs defensively, holding them to 26.6 percent shooting, including a stretch of eight minutes without a field goal.
Pedersen gave the Lady Tigers their first double-digit lead of the night with a three at the 15:48 mark in the first half that made it 15-6. LSU finished the first stanza on a 7-0 run and took a comfortable 40-19 advantage into the locker room.
"I think for the most part we came out with an agenda," said Caldwell. "We wanted to play a certain way. We established that early on in the game. Our defensive effort was a lot better. I thought we did a much better job once we settled in in our closeouts."
The spurt continued with eight unanswered points to start the second half. ETSU finally ended the drought on a mid-range jumper with 16:23 left in the game. Youngblood got in on the scoring barrage with five straight points late in the game.
LSU out-rebounded the Lady Bucs, 44-39, and dominated points in the paint, 40-20.
ETSU played without its leading scorer Destiny Mitchell. Mitchell suffered a concussion in practice earlier this week. She made the trip but did not dress.
Shawn Randall led the Lady Bucs with 13 points.
LSU continues its homestand against Louisiana Tech at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Maravich Center. Kids can have their photo taken with "Santa Mike" prior to the game adjacent to portal F. Doors to the arena open at 1 p.m.
LSU HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
On tonight's game...
"I think for the most part we came out with an agenda. We wanted to play a certain way. We established that early on in the game. Our defensive effort was a lot better. I thought we did a much better job once we settled in in our closeouts. Defensively, as far as our rebound coverage, we could have kept (Serena) Clark off the boards a little bit more. Towards the second half I saw us do that so we adjusted. Offensively we shared the basketball. We talked about getting ball reversal and getting post touches. Our post game was very efficient tonight as far as their percentage. We played like a team that plays together."
On Derreyal Youngblood's play tonight...
"(Youngblood) is a player that we have to get those minutes to. She has a presence on the low block. She is scoring the basketball in the low block. When you are trying to get that offensive rebound, or get that defensive rebound on the weak side, she's someone you can go to do that. I'm very proud of our team for recognizing, and getting her the basketball in a great position to score. She did the work before the ball got there, and our guard play really did a good job of delivering the basketball to her."
On tonight's season high 24 assists...
"We did a better job of making the extra pass. We were very patient in our attack offensively. We played with our post game. I felt like we moved the ball a little bit better from putting the ball on the baseline, getting it back on top, and getting some reversals. We focused in on who had the hot hand. We knew that Theresa (Plaisance) was coming off short corners and getting some good looks and Jeanne Kenney very early. Anne Pedersen was spotting up. (Danielle) Ballard played a very good game for us. She was very calm. Bianca Lutley did a great job of getting to the basket as well."
On her 100th career victory...
"I didn't really thing about it in that regard as far as a milestone. I'm very thankful for one, my coaching staff, who has been with me the entire way, then all the great players that I've been able to coach that have helped those wins. I just really hope that there more milestones that we reach here at LSU. Winning a national championship is the ultimate goal, and it's something that you strive for. It's great to have that 100th win, but there are also a lot more victories out there to be had."
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
Center Derreyal Youngblood
On her successful game...
"I can explain it by patience and each game I had a little trouble adjusting to playing against girls who are older than me and I had to wait on my time. This game all I could think about was doing the things that I could control and play like I can play because I was playing not to make a mistake."
On seeing more playing time...
"I'm just really excited to see what's to come next. I just need to keep working hard and trusting me teammates because when my teammates trust me then my time will come. I just want to be able to be connect with the team. I feel like all of us played like a team and we helped each other out. That kind of boosted my confidence and upped my intensity."
Forward Shanece McKinney
On their rebounding game...
"Coach (Caldwell) just emphasized boards and getting our guards open so that's what I tried to do tonight but mainly getting on the boards."
On playing relaxed...
"We played like we weren't worried about turning the ball over or not running the correct play but we just let it come to us instead of playing on edge."
On playing East Tennessee State...
"We were able to work on some things that we had been struggling with and we were able to run our offense all the way through without the worry of struggling but perfecting it."