BARCELONA – Trailing by 12 points early in the fourth quarter, the LSU women’s basketball team mounted a furious comeback to tie the game at 64 apiece in the final minute, but the France All-Star team converted the game-winning layup with 0:38 on the clock to beat the Lady Tigers, 67-64, in the first game of a Spain exhibition tour.
Senior guard Jeanne Kenney and freshman guard Raigyne Moncrief led LSU with 14 points apiece. Kenney nailed three three-pointers in the first half. Senior center Shanece McKinney added 11 points, while senior forward Theresa Plaisance chipped in nine points. The Lady Tigers worked several different combinations on the floor, including all three freshmen seeing action at the same time in the final four minutes.
The French team had a distinct height advantage with three players over 6-foot-4 for most of the game. Several of the players were former collegiate players in the United States.
“Our team did a decent job not letting things get out of hand,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “We knew we had to dig deep there in the fourth quarter against a very experienced team. I did see a lot of positives. That’s why you play in these types of tournaments. It’s a starting point where we can learn and grow as a team. We wanted to make sure we worked a lot of combinations to give our young players a chance.”
LSU trailed 55-43 with nine minutes to play before going on a 10-0 run thanks to several hustle plays and steals. Plaisance started the spurt with two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Moncrief picked up a steal at midcourt and scored on a transition layup. Kenney then got in on the action, stealing and saving an inbounds pass that led to another Moncrief layup. Ballard and McKinney followed with buckets to complete the run.
With the game tied at 55 apiece, France countered with a 7-0 run and took advantage of Lady Tiger turnovers in transition. Again, LSU did not go without a fight. Freshman guard Rina Hill, a native of Japan, buried her first career bucket with 3:00 to go. Plaisance then found her first three of the game with a swish from the right corner.
All three freshmen – Moncrief, Hill and Jasmine Rhodes – contributed during a 7-0 run in the final three minutes. Plaisance tied the game at 64 all when Hill found her with a perfect pass with 38 seconds left in the game. After France called a timeout, they converted a layup with 15 seconds to play to take the lead again.
“We have three freshmen who are going to be great Lady Tigers,” said Caldwell. “They hustle and can dig deep mentally. They have mental toughness. We had great minutes out of all three. They certainly didn’t play like freshmen.”
Caldwell called timeout and LSU set a play for Plaisance inside with 0:10 left. She went up for a layup and no foul was called in a questionable no-call and the ball went out of bounds. France then sank 1-of-2 free throws with 1.2 seconds to play and Moncrief’s desperation three fell short as the final horn sounded.
The two teams meet again at 6 p.m. Central European time Wednesday (11 a.m. CT). The Lady Tigers will depart Barcelona on Thursday and make their way down the Spanish coast to Valencia.