BATON ROUGE -- Senior forward LaSondra Barrett scored a game-high 16 points and collected a career-best seven steals to pace a balanced LSU women's basketball attack as the Lady Tigers stifled Alabama, 84-40, to win its ninth straight game in front of 4,478 fans on Sunday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Sunday's contest kicked off a stretch of three games in four days for LSU athletic teams against the Crimson Tide. The two teams clash in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday in New Orleans, while the LSU men's basketball team travels to Tuscaloosa for an SEC game on Wednesday. Head coach Nikki Caldwell talked about how she has used the football team's success as an example for her team.
"We talk about the difference between being hungry and starving, and I know Coach Miles' team is starving to get on that field and win a championship," said Caldwell. "They all are in sync and they have that togetherness that you need even when adversity hits. You never see LSU football team waver. We pay close attention to some of the things that they have been able to do this whole season."
LSU (12-3, 3-0 SEC) continued its torrid defense and found its offensive rhythm again scoring a season-high 84 points on a blistering season-high 60.4 percent from the floor. The 84 points represented the most by the Lady Tigers in a conference game (non-overtime) since defeating Alabama, 89-53, on Feb. 7, 2008 in Tuscaloosa. The 60 percent shooting percentage was LSU's highest since tallying 69.6 percent against North Carolina A&T on Jan. 1, 2006.
The Crimson Tide (10-7, 0-3) dropped its 14th consecutive game to LSU with now 13 of those 14 games coming in double-digit fashion. Alabama is winless against the Lady Tigers since Feb. 24, 2002. Sunday's 44-point margin of defeat was the largest in the series history. The Tide shot just 15.2 percent for the game with only 10 made field goals.
Barrett finished 5-of-7 from the floor and drained a career-high 4-of-4 from three-point range. She gathered seven rebounds and collected seven steals, representing the most by a Lady Tiger since Scholanda Robinson had seven versus North Texas on Nov. 30, 2004. It was also the fifth-highest single-game steal tally in LSU history.
"LaSondra is focused in the end on being a great leader for this team," said Caldwell. "She is rebounding the basketball and getting steals, but most importantly, we know she can score the basketball. She is making her teammates better as well because she is giving up the rock, giving them great looks and easier opportunities to score the basketball. Her unselfish play has really been a positive for our team."
All 12 Lady Tigers who dressed scored at least two points and everyone of them played double-digit minutes as Caldwell spread her bench out throughout the game. Adrienne Webb fired in 6-of-7 from the floor for 14 points, while Destini Hughes and Krystal Forthan provided nine points apiece.
LSU jumped out to a 9-0 lead on a pair of three from Barrett from the top of the key. Alabama was within nine points at the 6:36 mark in the first half before the Lady Tigers went on a 21-4 run to close the period. LSU scored the final 11 points of the half culminating with Barrett's third three of the game that made it, 44-18.
With the game well in hand, the Lady Tigers dominated the first seven minutes of the second stanza with a 14-4 run. Barrett and Webb swished back-to-back threes. LSU led 60-22 with 13:21 left in the game and Caldwell was able to work several combinations the rest of the way.
The Lady Tigers out-rebounded their 10th straight opponent and converted 20 Alabama turnovers into 26 points.
The SEC's top two scoring defenses meet in a battle of undefeated teams in conference play at 7 p.m. Thursday when LSU hosts South Carolina.
LSU HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
On whether this game was a precursor for the BCS National Championship...
"I hope so. I know Coach Miles and his staff have got their team prepared. We talk about the difference between being hungry and starving, and I know his team is starving to get on that field and win a championship. Obviously they have a lot more on the line than we do, but we definitely take a page out of how they attacked this season through not only their defensive pressure. I like the confidence that each player exudes while they are on the field whether it is offensively or defensively. They all are in sync and they have that togetherness that you need even when adversity hits. You never see LSU football waver. We pat close attention to some of the things that they have been able to do this whole season."
On LaSondra Barrett...
"LaSondra is focused in the end on being a great leader for this team. She is doing what she is doing on both ends of the floor, rebounding the basketball and getting steals, but most importantly we know she can score the basketball. She is making her teammates better as well because she is giving up the rock, giving them great looks and easier opportunities to score the basketball. Her unselfish play has really been a positive for our team."
On the start of the game...
"Again we talked about running the basketball and not just being a team that sets up in the half court. We are able to do that and we're taking care of the basketball. We are definitely more efficient."
On team identity...
"All season we've been a very consistent defensive team and we've been pretty consistent in the turnover column as well. There have been some games where we have gotten that down into the teens and tonight we were at 20. That is just us threading the needle and not necessarily something they did. I felt that we were in control of some of those turnovers. Alabama did a great job on the offensive glass and really giving themselves second and third opportunities. We had a slight height advantage, which I think bailed us out. We've got to understand that when you go against a team like South Carolina, who is coming in on Thursday, we cannot give up 25 offensive rebounds. We've got to be more solid on our defensive pressure because there are not a lot of teams out there that will beat you on their first shot."
Sr. F LaSondra Barrett
On the game ...
"I always try to bring my defensive intensity because that contributes to our offense. We did a great job of scouting Alabama. We watched a lot of film, and we tried to read their plays and read their eyes. We played really well defensively as a team because we did a great job communicating. The bench players came in with a lot of energy and did the same thing."
On the game being a possible precursor to the BCS National Championship Game ...
"I'm pretty confident in our football team. I am supportive of them the entire way, and I will be watching. They inspire us. We are school where a lot of athletes know each other and support each other. We have nothing but love from them and we get the same in return. I will be watching, especially the honey badger (Tyrann Mathieu).
On emulating the LSU football team ...
"They went through so much adversity game after game. Everybody stayed together when you look at them being down in a game or having players missing. One thing we look at is nothing fazes them. They dominate, and that is what coach wants us to do. She wants to come out and play together. It just inspires us and gives us motivation to also represent LSU when we see them come out with such energy.
On Destini Hughes' play ...
"Destini is an x-factor for our team. She has been playing well and she is a big part of why we are winning, and the way we are winning. It is amazing to see her leadership at point guard around the start of SEC play when we need her because we are seniors now."
Senior Guard Destini Hughes
On the nine-game winning streak ...
"It feels really good. We know we still have a lot to improve on. We just want to keep it going, but we know we have a lot of work to do."
On the team's offensive success ...
"We stepped up our pregame scouting game coming into today. It really helped us that we came out and knew their moves. Also communication was an important factor. We trusted each other to play together and that we could pass and have someone make shots.