BATON ROUGE - Playing with a full roster for the first time this season, the LSU women's basketball team used a 15-0 first-half run and a game-high 24 points from Adrienne Webb to beat North Alabama, 83-50, in an exhibition game on Tuesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Lady Tigers concluded exhibition play with a 2-0 mark and will next take the floor in an official game as Wichita State comes to Baton Rouge for a 2 p.m. tipoff Sunday.
"I like that we had everybody on the floor today, because we were able to see some different alignments and some different lineups," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "We were able to go small and quick. We went big at times. That gave us a lot of freedom at seeing what's going to be good for us early on in the season."
Webb was an efficient 9-of-13 from the floor and buried 4-of-5 from beyond the arc in 24 minutes. Fellow senior guard Bianca Lutley chipped in 17 points on a 6-of-8 effort.
LSU's three true freshmen - Danielle Ballard, Kuaneshia "Coco" Baker and Derreyal Youngblood - saw their first career action. Caldwell used the final tune-up to work several combinations on the floor, including several instances with all three true freshmen involved.
Ballard and Baker displayed their defensive quickness on the perimeter, combining for 13 of LSU's 23 steals on the night.
"There's a lot to build on with those three freshmen," said Caldwell. "Danielle Ballard and Kuaneshia Baker, I thought their intensity around the perimeter by getting deflections and steals really generated some scores for us. They were the recipients of a lot of opportunities for us to score in a transition game by getting us wide open layups."
Baker, the 2012 Louisiana High School Gatorade Player of the Year, added 10 points in 21 minutes of action.
North Alabama, an NCAA Division II school, was led in scoring by Sarah Bailey, who finished with 12 points. The Lions committed 38 turnovers, fell behind double-digits six minutes in and trailed 50-22 at the half.
Ballard helped LSU build its first double-digit lead in the first minute of her career when she took a steal and drove the length of the floor for a layup. Theresa Plaisance made it 16-5 on a layup of her own with 14:35 remaining.
Lutley drilled her first four shots, and she was one of five Lady Tigers who made threes in the first 20 minutes. Baker's steal and ensuing layup made it 41-14 with 5:02 to go.
LSU shot 59.5 percent in the first half, taking 16 more shots than North Alabama. Though, the Lady Tigers cooled off from the floor as a team in the second half, Webb found a rhythm from beyond the arc.
The preseason second-team All-SEC recipient buried back-to-back treys midway through the second half to extend the lead to 70-34. As a team, LSU finished 9-of-16 from three-point land.
Tickets for Sunday's season-opener are on sale now at www.LSUtix.net. Doors to the Maravich Center open at 1 p.m. Sunday's contest will be the lone home game in the month of November.
LSU vs. North Alabama
November 6, 2012
HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
On the exhibition ...
"We're very appreciative every day that we can get out there on the floor and compete. There were some good things that the team did tonight that we're going to build on. There were also some areas we were challenged in. We'll look at film, we'll come back and we'll continue to stress those areas in our defense where we feel we need to spend more time. I like that we had everybody on the floor today, because we were able to see some different alignments and some different lineups. We were able to go small and quick. We went big at times. That gave us a lot of freedom at seeing what's going to be good for us early on in the season."
On the true freshmen ...
"There's a lot to build on with those three freshmen. Danielle Ballard and Kuaneshia Baker, I thought their intensity around the perimeter by getting deflections and steals really generated some scores for us. They were the recipients of a lot of opportunities for us to score in a transition game by getting us wide open layups. Although Derreyal Youngblood fouled out, I thought her presence in the paint was dominant. She may not have gotten the ball a lot, but you can see where she was really ducking in and trying to sandwich herself as a go-to for us. I felt like defensively she did a great job of playing in the high post area and then moving down to the block and really being active on the defensive end."
G ADRIENNE WEBB
On scoring 24 points ...
"I feel like shots were falling in, and I was taking open shots. I feel like it's a great start to the beginning of our season. It gave me a lot more confidence to take the open shots that I need to take coming into our game against Wichita State. We just played well tonight as a team. Finding the open player is a good thing. My teammates just found me, and I was able to knock in the shots."
On defense ...
"In practice, Coach (Caldwell) emphasizes trying to gamble. Before the game she tells us in our defense, that we have that option to gamble on those passes that we feel like we can get. If say, we trap in the corner, it gives the guard or the backside of the defense the option to break on that next pass. That way they can either gamble on that steal. Coach gives us a lot of freedom in our defense to gamble."