BATON ROUGE - Danielle Ballard scored a game-high 21 points and tied an LSU freshman record for steals with seven as the Lady Tigers used a 15-0 late first-half run to pull away from Grambling by a score of 90-59 on Wednesday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Senior guard Adrienne Webb added 19 points - 14 in the second half - and became the 30th player in school history to reach 1,000 points in a career. Webb needed seven points going into the game. Her first bucket in the second half put her at the mark, and she now stands at 1,012 points.
Ballard's steals tied for fifth overall in LSU single-game steal annals and it tied the freshman record held by Joyce Walker. Walker collected seven steals against Southeastern Louisiana on Feb. 12, 1981 during her freshman campaign.
The Lady Tigers (7-3) won their third in a row despite surrendering a season-high 9-of-21 from three-point range. Grambling (1-8), which dropped to 0-4 all-time against LSU, connected for seven threes in the first half and even tied the game at 30 apiece with 7:25 remaining in the first stanza.
"I thought we had some lazy play," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "I felt as though us not identifying the basketball early led to quick ball reversal. (Grambling) really did a great job of exploiting us and extending our defense. Around the seven-minute mark, we changed up the lineup and went with a guard lineup, which we felt could match up a little bit more."
Cierra Ceazer made back-to-back threes culminating at the 7:25 mark before the Lady Tigers countered with a decisive 15-0 run led by the quick play of Ballard. Ballard converted eight of the 15 points, including two lay-ups off her own steals. Grambling, meanwhile, went cold from the floor, going 7:23 without a made basket until a Tyler Anderson jumper with 0:02 left in the half.
"When she (Ballard) sees daylight, she's very aggressive to the basket," said Caldwell. "She typically converts in those scenarios. She did a great job of that for us tonight."
By then LSU took a 45-30 lead into halftime and never looked back. Webb became the newest member of the 1,000-point club on a mid-range jumper with 18:38 remaining in the game. It jump started an 8-0 Lady Tiger run.
LSU added another 14-0 run in a three-minute span in the final five minutes of the game. Webb took advantage of several Grambling turnovers and fired in eight straight points during the spurt. The Lady Tigers converted 26 turnovers into 35 points on the night.
Junior forward Theresa Plaisance reached double-figures for the ninth consecutive game with 18 points and a career-high five assists. Shanece McKinney turned in her third straight impressive start with another near double-double, finishing with eight points and nine rebounds.
The Lady Tigers shot a season-best 56.7 percent from the floor.
LSU closes a stretch of four games in eight days when McNeese State, the defending Southland Conference champions, comes to Baton Rouge for a Friday matinee. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.
LSU vs. Grambling
December 19, 2012
LSU HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
"We felt that if we could really penetrate the high post area in their defense, we would have a good look in the high-low action. We did a good job of that, but I felt like the guards took ownership of establishing our postgame. They also looked for each other. Anytime you go 20-plus assists in a game, that's a positive."
On the first half...
"I thought we had some lazy play. I felt as though us not identifying the basketball early led to quick ball reversal. (Grambling) really did a great job of exploiting us and extending our defense. Around the seven minute mark, we changed up the lineup and went with a guard lineup who we felt could match up a little bit more. That's the beauty of this team, that if we need to start bigger - that's why we start Shanece McKinney and Theresa Plaisance, to give us that threat in the high-low action - we can, but we also have the capabilities of switching up our defense and going smaller and quicker."
On G Danielle Ballard...
"She was getting her hands on a lot of balls. She was coming up with steals, which led to transition baskets. I really felt like she pushed the basketball and kept going, and (Grambling) really didn't step in there to stop her. When she sees daylight, she's very aggressive to the basket, and she typically converts in those scenarios. She did a great job of that for us tonight."
On G Adrienne Webb...
"Adrienne Webb is one of the hardest working players that I've been associated with in all the programs that I've been a part of. She is someone that, when we first got here, you could see that greatness was in her. Tonight she played like one of the best guards in the country. She did a lot of great things for us on the defensive end. I gave her a defensive challenge in the second half, and she kept her player scoreless. On the flip side of that, she was able to establish a lot of offensive punch for us off the bounce, getting layups and being the recipient of some of those transition baskets."
FORWARD THERESA PLAISANCE
On Danielle Ballard ...
"Danielle is just one of those players that gets after it offensively and defensively. Danielle just sets the tone for us. When she sets her defense, we set our defense, especially when we're struggling and when not everything is going our way. She's just really scrappy and good at reading the passer's eyes or maybe getting a hand in the dibbler's area. She just does a really good job in the steal column, as you read."
On taking advantage of LSU's height advantage...
"Our past couple games, our whole plan was to get the ball inside, play inside out and to try to get the post touches. We also we're focusing on penetration kick out. Basically, we just wanted to get the ball in the paint and get some movement going. After that, it's just first open shot, take it."
GUARD ADRIENNE WEBB
On defense adjustments from first half to second half...
"Grambling did a good job on exploiting our defense. However, towards the end of the first half, we started realizing we had to get stops in order to keep them from scoring and to slow down their momentum in the half. We did that by tightening up on defense by helping each other. We did this by not just playing our man, but playing that helped and supported our defense."
On passing the 1,000 career point mark...
"It's an honor to be placed in such a category. I really didn't realize how close I was to 1,000. I didn't even notice until everyone was clapping during the media timeout. It really is just an honor to be one of 30 placed in that 1,000 point category."