BATON ROUGE - The 20th-ranked LSU women's basketball team held Georgetown to 24.2 percent shooting and senior forward LaSondra Barrett scored 11 points as the Lady Tigers out-muscled the Hoyas in the home opener, 51-40, in front of 4,599 fans on Wednesday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU improved to 2-0 under Nikki Caldwell, who was coaching in her first home game as head coach of the Lady Tigers. Georgetown (1-2) dropped its second straight contest and fell to 0-2 all-time against LSU. The two were meeting for the first time since 1983, which was Sue Gunter's second season as head coach.
"This definitely isn't a game where I would say come watch for the offense," said Caldwell. "Both teams played extremely hard. Georgetown is traditionally a defensive minded team, so we knew they were going to get at us and try to disrupt us. I'm proud of our group for coming back in the second half, maintaining their composure and finishing this game out the way they needed to."
The victory was the highest non-conference home win for LSU since the Lady Tigers knocked off No. 5 Ohio State, 75-51, on Dec. 10, 2006.
Senior point guard Destini Hughes chipped in 10 points and was an efficient 2-of-2 from three-point range and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Barrett added eight boards and four steals. Senior forward Courtney Jones scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds and swatted two shots.
For the second straight game, LSU overcame turnovers with toughness and poise down the stretch. The Lady Tigers committed 23 turnovers for the game and shot 2-of-12 from three-point land, but LSU's defense suffocated the Hoyas, who were just 3-of-23 from beyond the arc.
"Even though the turnovers aren't an indicator of it, we played better tonight collectively as a group than we played Monday night," said Caldwell. "This team has a lot of room for growth which is great. I'm glad that we are tested early so they can see where we stack up and we can also see where we can improve."
Georgetown All-America candidate Sugar Rodgers managed a 4-of-20 effort from the floor and finished with 10 points.
With the score tied at 18 apiece in the first half, LSU finished the stanza with the final four points. Destini Hughes sank two free throws with six seconds left. Jeanne Kenney then picked off a pass and Barrett converted a lay-up as the horn sounded to give the Lady Tigers a 26-21 advantage into the locker room.
LSU increased the lead to 32-26 five minutes into the second half when Hughes nailed a three from the top of the key. Despite the momentum, Georgetown mounted a quick 6-0 run and tied the game on Tia Magee's lay-up with 13:58 remaining in the game. It would be the final field goal for the Hoyas for the next 10 minutes.
Kenney fired a brilliant pass in transition to Taylor Turnbow for a lay-up and LSU led by as many as six points until the Hoyas finally broke the dry spell on Rodgers jump shot with 3:29 left in the game. LSU still led 41-37.
The Lady Tigers iced the game at the free throw line, draining eight free throws in the final 3:17. Barrett accounted for the final margin with two made shots from the line with 38 seconds left.
Georgetown shot just 7-of-28 for 25 percent in the second half. The Hoyas out-rebounded LSU 49-42, but the Lady Tigers netted 13 second-chance points.
LSU travels to face in-state rival Tulane at 7 p.m. Saturday in New Orleans. The game will be carried on the LSU Sports Radio Network on 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge and to members of the Geaux Zone on www.LSUsports.net/live.
Head Coach Nikki Caldwell
"This definitely isn't a game where I would say come watch for the offense. Both teams played extremely hard. Georgetown is traditionally a defensive minded team, so we knew they were going to get at us and try to disrupt us. I'm proud of our group for coming back in the second half, maintaining their composure and finishing this game out the way they needed to."
On the game...
"When you scout Georgetown and you watch how hard their kids play, they definitely are a team that likes to turn you over. We are the same team too. We want to extend our defense and we want to turn the other team over as well. I'll give a lot of credit to this group. When they need to make big plays and come up with defensive stops they do so. I know we got them late in the shot clock, and they got some shot clock violations. Those are all energy plays. It started with Destini Hughes. Her on the ball defense really trickled down and made everybody else be accountable. We had tremendous play coming off the bench. I thought Adrienne Webb, Theresa Plaisance, and Taylor Turnbow all gave some great minutes."
On starting the home season off with a win...
"I think you need to start with a win and end with a win. Anytime you can win you just win. For this group it's about daily improvement. Even though the turnovers aren't an indicator of it, we played better tonight collectively as a group than we played Monday night. This team has a lot of room for growth which is great. I'm glad that we are tested early so they can see where we stack up and we can also see where we can improve."
"We are doing everything we need to do to prepare for March Madness and it starts now. Georgetown is going to be a team that you will see make a run for their conference championship and also be in the NCAA tournament."
"You would have thought after the Wichita State game that we did not come back and spend 90 percent of practice on passing. This group needs to understand that they don't need to make the homerun pass. To Georgetown's credit they will make you speed up because they come right at you. They don't just let you sit there with the basketball. We need to learn how to shift gears. We also play a big line up so we don't have true guards out there all the time. We will get better at it and they will become more comfortable with each other. This group has learned a totally new offense and defensively man-to-man and match-up zone are pretty similar, but they have had to adjust to our coaching staff. I am very pleased to where we are at right now."
On being a mature team...
"This group is showing that they are mature enough to start the season on the road. They are mature enough to come back and play here in front of a great crowd and play a great team. I like the maturity level of this team."
On the game being physical...
"Both sides were physical but that's a part of basketball. It makes us tougher as a team, more fight in us. We're used to playing in the SEC which is a physical conference so we need to get ready for that."
On the importance of free throws...
"At the end, we locked in on boxing out and we grabbed key rebounds. We didn't want to trade them basket for basket but we just locked in and Coach (Caldwell) told us to relax."
On place erupting after pass from Jeanne Kenney to Taylor Turnbow...
"With this team, we feed off of each other and we feed off of the crowd and it's just an amazing place to play."
On defense/offense concepts compared to last year...
"Offense is different, but they're a defensive team and we are too and we have a similar game so we knew it would be a battle in defense because of pressing. As far as offense, our shots weren't falling in and we're a different team when our shots are falling in."
On the game being fast paced...
"It was fast paced but Coach always told us be patient, slow it down. It was my teammate's support that got me motivated."
On Georgetown's low shooting percentage...
"It was a team effort. The coaches had a good defensive plan and then, just everybody did their part. Rubylee (Wright) is a great player and also No. 14 (Sugar Rodgers). They're the ones we wanted to pay more attention to and I feel like the whole team stepped up. We were pointing and talking so it wasn't just me. I knew they had my back."