Women's Basketball Gears Up for Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. – After dropping consecutive games for the first time all season, the No. 19 LSU women’s basketball team will look to bounce back and return to the win column Thursday at Georgia.
Thursday’s tip time is on-tap for 6 p.m. CT. It’s the final regular season game not carried on television. The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, will have the radio call.
The Lady Tigers (18-7, 7-5 SEC) head into the final four games of the regular season tied for fourth place with Florida and Kentucky in the SEC standings. LSU enters the week as one of 10 programs in the nation to have at least 12 wins against RPI Top 100 teams.
Last time out, the Lady Tigers were handed a 73-57 defeat by SEC leader and then No. 5 South Carolina. Six of LSU’s seven losses have come against teams ranked inside this week’s edition of the AP Top 15.
“In the SEC, everybody is competing at a high level,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “For us, our practice on Monday was a good sign of a team wanting to turn this around. We’ve had a tough SEC road schedule, and we’ve been in most of those games. We’re going to have to score the basketball in the paint. We’ve have had our back against the wall, and the players keep on fighting. That’s what we’ll ask them to do here on out.”
Jeanne Kenney is one of three Lady Tigers to post double figures this season. She has picked up 11.0 points and 3.6 assists per game. Kenney’s 15 points against South Carolina marked the sixth time that the senior guard has reached the 15-point barrier this season. The Baton Rouge native continues to be one of the SEC’s premier three-point shooters, her 41.5 clip is second-best in the SEC. She heads into the UGA game two triples from moving into seventh place on LSU’s all-time list.
Raigyne Moncrief, a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week, is fourth among SEC freshmen with 11.3 points per game. She had her streak of four consecutive games with 10-plus points come to a close during the South Carolina game. Moncrief is the only Lady Tiger to start all 25 games this season. On the defensive end, Moncrief’s 2.1 steals per game are tied for fifth in the SEC.
Theresa Plaisance has registered a team-leading 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. In SEC action, Plaisance has increased her mark to 16.2 points per game which is tied for sixth on the SEC leaderboard. She has pumped in double figures in 15 consecutive outings and worked her way up to 24th place on LSU’s all-time scoring list.
Danielle Ballard has come away with back-to-back double figure scoring performances for the first time since opening weekend. Ballard has amassed a solid all-around 9.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. She has erupted for her top three scoring efforts in SEC road games this season.
In LSU’s last outing, Sheila Boykin into the starting lineup for the first time since the North Carolina State game on Dec. 20. She has produced 3.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game over her last two outings.
Shanece McKinney and DaShawn Harden have chipped in 7.6 and 6.8 points per game, respectively. In the frontcourt, McKinney has tallied 1.5 blocks per game which is good enough for fifth place among the SEC leaders.
“You use the fact that we’ve got experienced players who took this team to a Sweet 16,” Caldwell said. “We’re in a much better position than we have been in the past two years here. I feel like we’re in the driver’s seat. We don’t have to play catch up. We can play one game at a time and be the best team on that floor. The sense of urgency needs to come from the fact that the clock is winding down, and you’re not going to have that many opportunities in these games with these seniors anymore. That’s where the urgency needs to come. You remember the championships and memories. I want them to stay in the moment and appreciate what they have right now.”
Georgia (17-8, 5-7 SEC) has won five of its last eight outings since beginning SEC play with a 0-4 mark. Most recently, the Lady Bulldogs collected a 67-58 victory over Florida. Shacobia Barbee has secured a team-leading 12.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game. The 2.7 steals also holds the top spot on the SEC leaderboard.
Khaalindah Miller (11.2 PPG), Erika Ford (10.4 PPG) and Tiaria Griffin (10.2 PPG) have picked up double figures for Georgia. The trio of Barbee, Ford and Miller accounted for 54 of the team’s 67 points during the win over Florida.
The Lady Bulldogs hold a 22-18 series advantage over LSU and have won 12 of the 17 meetings between the two teams in Athens. The last win for the Lady Tigers in Athens came during the 2009-10 season. LSU and Georgia split its two meetings last season. LSU emerged with a 62-54 victory during the regular season, while the Lady Bulldogs took a 71-53 decision in the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament.
“Coach Landers has got a legacy there,” Caldwell said. “Everybody that has come through that program understands that tradition. It’s always been tough playing at Georgia. It’s tough playing everywhere to be honest. We’ve got to muster up our own energy. We’ve got to go in there with a mindset of trying to outwork our opponent and earn the right to win. I know that he’s got that team motivated. I think they’ve really turned it around themselves. They were 0-4 to start. They’re doing a nice job right now. We’ve got a chance to play in a tough environment, but we’ve been there. We’ve got to draw on our successes that we’ve had and not think about our failures. They have the tools, and we do too. We’re just going to go out there and do our best.”
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.