BATON ROUGE – The trio of Jeanne Kenney, Raigyne Moncrief and Theresa Plaisance accounted for 54 points on a combined 19-of-34 shooting to fuel the No. 16 LSU women’s basketball team to a 75-58 victory over Missouri Thursday at the Maravich Center.
The victory gave LSU (18-5, 7-3 SEC) its third straight win over Missouri (14-9, 3-7 SEC) since Mizzou joined the SEC. The Lady Tigers also moved into sole possession of fourth place in the SEC standings.
LSU was a near perfect 19-of-20 at the foul line, held a healthy 32-8 advantage in points off turnovers and scored 28 of the game’s 42 points in the paint. The 95 percent free throw clip was tied for the second highest mark for a single game in program history.
“We’ve been really keying in on trying to be a 40-minute team and be more disciplined on the defensive end,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I saw a team that showed they can commit to that. I thought that was difference in the game. Our defensive pressure got to Missouri, and we were able to capitalize off of it.”
Plaisance dropped in a team-leading 20 points, her second biggest scoring output on the season. She also collected a game-high nine rebounds and three blocks. The 20 points also enabled the senior forward to eclipse 1,100 career points and move into 25th place on LSU’s all-time scoring list.
Kenney secured a solid all-around effort with 19 points, a season’s best tying four steals and three assists over her 36 minutes of action.
“The other day we had a team meeting, and the first thing that Jeanne said was ‘I’ve got to be more consistent.’ It was very mature of her to come into our team meeting and be accountable,” Caldwell said. “Tonight, she played like a senior who was not going to allow her team to lose. She played with a lot of confidence. When you have that type of composure with your guard play, it can make your offense look a lot smoother.”
Moncrief provided 15 points on 5-of-8 from the floor during an efficient 21 minutes of court time. She added four steals and three rebounds before fouling out. The Florida native has tallied double figures in three consecutive games and four of her last five performances.
Danielle Ballard bounced back with eight points, six rebounds and two assists after being held scoreless last time out at Kentucky.
Off the bench, DaShawn Harden pumped in eight points. Derreyal Youngblood tacked on a basket, and Sheila Boykin contributed on the defensive end in spot time against Mizzou’s leading scorer Bri Kulas.
Kulas had to work for her game-leading 23 points. She took 19 shots and misfired on seven of her 10 attempts from three-point territory. Morgan Eye chipped in 12 points but was bottled up for a 3-of-9 clip from beyond the arc below her 43 percent mark for the season entering tonight’s game.
LSU fired out to a 19-9 advantage at the 10:26 mark of the opening half as the Lady Tigers knocked down eight of their first 14 field goal attempts. Ballard, Kenney and Plaisance got going early with four points apiece.
Missouri trimmed the LSU lead down to 19-15 after six straight Kulas points, but the Lady Tigers answered with three quick buckets highlighted by a pair of Plaisance jumpers to push the margin back to 25-15 with 5:26 remaining.
LSU’s largest lead was 38-25 with 1:08 left during the opening stanza after Kenney canned back-to-back treys 36 seconds apart. Missouri countered with two three-balls of its own to make it 38-31 going into the locker room.
With LSU up 46-40 at the 15:57 mark of the second half, the Lady Tigers took control with 14 straight points over the next 5:24. Missouri was forced into six turnovers and four missed shots during the spurt.
Kenney got the momentum turned with jumper followed by a Plaisance traditional three-point play. After Harden made two free throws, she cashed in on a transition layup courtesy of a Kenney steal. Moncrief capped the flurry with a jumper and an and-one play.
Missouri battled back with 12-0 run of its own to pull back to 60-52 with 6:35 to go. LSU was able to get the game back into double figures with a Plaisance jumper, and it stayed that way down the stretch. The Lady Tigers salted the contest away and converted on 11-of-12 at the free throw line over the last 2:24 for the 75-58 final margin.
“We talked about where we are and exactly what we need to do – but we need to take it one game at a time,” Caldwell said. “We know Missouri is a team that can make three’s, and we had to do a better job in the second half of not allowing them to get those easy looks. We had to make them work for those easy looks. We decided to extend our defense to 94 feet and disrupt the rhythm of their offense. They are very good offensive team with balanced scoring. If you miss a defensive assignment, that’s probably a made basket. That’s how accurate they are. A lot of credit to Missouri, but I was extremely pleased with our team’s defensive effort.”
LSU wraps up a stretch of four consecutive Sundays on the road and travels to Texas A&M. Tip time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. from Reed Arena. The game will be carried live by Fox Sports Network (FSN), SportSouth (SPSO) and www.WatchESPN.com.
The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. Live audio also will be available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, has the radio call.
For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/womensbasketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuwbkb along with @lsuwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter.
Head Coach Nikki Caldwell
“We’ve been really keying in on trying to be a 40-minute team and be more disciplined on the defensive end. I saw a team that showed they can commit to that. I thought that was difference in the game. Our defensive pressure got to Missouri, and we were able to capitalize off of it.”
On what Jeanne Kenney did to maintain LSU’s lead throughout the game…
“The other day we had a team meeting, and the first thing that Jeanne said was ‘I’ve got to be more consistent.’ It was very mature of her to come into our team meeting and be accountable. Tonight, she played like a senior who was not going to allow her team to lose. She played with a lot of confidence. She had one athletic play, but she did a lot of nice things for us by taking care of the basketball. When you have that type of composure with your guard play, it can make your offense look a lot smoother.”
On Jeanne Kenney’s emergence as a shooter this season…
“She’s one of the purest shooters that I’ve seen. She has such a nice rotation on the basketball. She has a quick release. She has range, and she’s smart. She also understands when she’s in that zone and when to pull. She definitely has the green light because she’s a player that gets in the gym and works extra. She’ll get up 400-600 shots a week.”
On Raigyne Moncrief’s capabilities as a freshman…
“I don’t know of too many freshmen in the country, or too many players who are able to do what Moncrief can do. Her first step to the basket is pretty explosive. I like the fact that Moncrief came back and contributed to our team. She did it through our defense. She set the tone. She’s our defensive stopper. She’s one of our best rebounders and leapers. We like her in the game. We like the ball in her hands late in the game. She’s a play maker and a great teammate. She embodies what it means to be a student-athlete in every sense of the word with student coming first. We have a gem in Moncrief.”
On being consistent in both games against MIssouri …
“We talked about where we are and exactly what we need to do – but we need to take it one game at a time. We know Missouri is a team that can make three’s, and we had to do a better job in the second half of not allowing them to get those easy looks. We had to make them work for those easy looks. We decided to extend our defense to 94 feet and disrupt the rhythm of their offense. They are very good offensive team with balanced scoring. If you miss a defensive assignment, that’s probably a made basket. That’s how accurate they are. A lot of credit to Missouri, but I was extremely pleased with our team’s defensive effort. I thought we did a nice job for the most part. We talked about the game being a game of runs and winning segments. We typically drop segments, but we don’t want to drop a lot of them. We knew they were going to make a run at us. I like the fact that we were able to generate the defensive stops we needed to so we can generate our own run.”
On traveling to take on Texas A&M in College Station…
“The last game was in our reach. We need to be a 40-minute team. We cannot take possessions off. A&M is playing some good basketball, and they’re very good at home. Last year we had success there, but they’re a totally different team and so are we. It’s going to be a battle of who wants it to the most. We’ve got to bring our intensity on the defensive end and the aggressiveness on the offensive end. Our inability to score in the pain has plagued us. We’ve got to be on point there. It’s going to boil down to our intensity.
On her team playing an all-around complete game…
“I think we’ve grown from Sunday. I think we’ve done a nice job with our intensity on the defensive end. I think we’ve got work to do. I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball. We had players in foul trouble in the first half. I was very proud of our bench. The several minutes Derreyal Youngblood played in the paint she did a very nice job defensively. DaShawn Harden has come into her own and accepted her role for this team. Sheila Boykin did a nice job of defending Bri Kulas. I like Boykin making her work. When you get good production from your bench and your starters do what they’re supposed to do, you’ve got a good chance at winning.”
LSU Player Quotes
On her success playing against Missouri…
“I don’t know, I was just very lucky. I thought in the first half our aggressive play started with Danielle (Ballard) and “Ray” (Raigyne Moncrief) and getting Theresa (Plaisance) involved really opened up the outside. When you have an inside-out game, you’re golden. I thought we weren’t one dimensional this game. We had inside play, we also had outside play and that’s a real compliment to (Danielle and Theresa).”
On Danielle Ballard...
“I think Danielle has come so far since she was a freshman. I forget she’s only a sophomore. She told me one thing when we had a timeout. I said, ‘Danielle, when I’m right there and you don’t have anybody guarding you, just step in and take a shot.’ She said, ‘I don’t want to make it seem like I’m being a “ball hog.”’ Just by saying that, she was aware of the fact that she had taken shots, but she was taking good shots. She was being aggressive, and she was helping us out. I think just by saying those words, that’s the unselfish player that she has become. That’s the player she has become.”
On her being emotional during the game…
“We appreciate being at home, and we appreciate the fan support. It gets me hyped up. It’s so great. It’s the sixth person on the court for us. When we are playing well and everything is clicking, it’s hard not to smile and show your emotions on the court.”
On answering Missouri’s run with a run sparked by her…
“We were on that little streak where we couldn’t hit a thing. They were doing a good job of coming down and knocking down shots at the other end. DaShawn (Harden) got her hands on the ball, got a great steal and found me. She really had to thread the needle with that pass, but she got through to me. I got an “and-one” out of it. That was just a testament to DaShawn’s hustle play. She was really hustling today, got a lot of 50-50 balls and that’s another thing DaShawn does for us. I was just the lucky recipient of the pass.”
On coming out of her slump the past few games…
“The last two games, my shot was off. Coach told me what I needed to do, and I decided to come in to practice early to get in a couple of extra shots. I needed to make my 400 shots and by making those shots I had a lot of confidence going into this game. That’s why I pulled up for a lot of shots this game and made some of them. I still had confidence in my shot.”
Missouri Head Coach Robin Pingeton
On the game tonight…
“First of all, LSU has a great team. Nikki has done a great job with this program. (Theresa) Plaisance and (Jeanne) Kenny are great players and they’ve got a great supporting cast around them. I wasn’t real pleased with our poise at the ball. Give them credit, they got up in us a little bit and really challenged us defensively, but I just didn’t feel like we had much poise with the ball. In this league, when you have 21 turnovers, you are going to have a hard time winning too many ball games. Again, I thought Kenny made some big shots at key times and they did a nice job from the free throw line. Typically, we are a lot better from the free throw line than we shot tonight. It was a game of runs. I was proud of our kids for hanging in there and we made a little bit of a game of it. We pulled it within eight there late. Then obviously LSU went on another run and finished off the game.”
On McKinney’s game tonight…
“She plays with so much emotion and passion. She’s got a high basketball IQ. She’s got a great shot. She does a lot of the intangibles, things that don’t show up in the box score, but I love the poise she plays with. She plays with a lot of confidence. She plays like she’s a first team All-SEC player. She plays with great poise, great toughness and executes extremely well for them.”
On the difference in her team since they last played LSU…
“I mean, we didn’t look like it at times tonight but again I’m proud of the toughness. We had a couple times when we could have really gone under, but we didn’t. Our girls stayed the course and they continued to compete and scrape and claw and hit some big shots to make it a game there at the end. You know, we have a very small margin of error that we can afford. Again, it’s been our Achilles heel all year long is the along amount of points teams have scored off our turnovers. Those really come back to hurt us. I like our half-court defense. I think we are pretty solid. There’s not going to be a shutout. You can’t defend perfectly and you are going to have kids that knock down shots. The run-outs on the transition, the uncontested shots that we give up from our turnovers have continued to be our Achilles heel a little bit.”
MISSOURI PLAYER QUOTES
F Bri Kulas
On keeping the ball moving around in the second half...
“In the second half we were looking to pass the ball around a little bit more on offense and try and look for our shooters. LSU plays great defense so that definitely had a factor into it as well.”