Seniors Lead Lady Tigers Past Alabama, 76-42
BATON ROUGE -- LSU seniors Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley combined for 33 points in their final regular season home game and the Lady Tigers extended their season-best winning streak to five straight with a 76-42 blowout of Alabama on Thursday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU (18-10, 9-6 SEC) jumped out to a 13-0 lead and never looked back. The Lady Tigers maintained their sixth-place position in the Southeastern Conference standings as Vanderbilt was a winner over Auburn on Thursday.
An LSU win at Texas A&M on Sunday or a Vanderbilt loss to Georgia would give the Lady Tigers the No. 6 seed in next week's SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga. The No. 6 seed plays the No. 11 seed at 7:30 p.m. CT Thursday. LSU's regular season finale at Texas A&M is slated for a 1 p.m. CT tip on the SEC Network (channel 16 in Baton Rouge).
"Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley are our two seniors," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "I remember after the Tennessee game, the kids were very upset and Jeanne Kenney spoke up. She basically said, 'From here on out, from this game forward, I'm going to do everything I can for Webb and Lutley to go out as big as possible.' Since then, our team has done just that. That's what those two mean to our team. I'm really proud of our team for playing as hard as they did tonight and staying focused."
Webb scored a game-high 21 points and buried a career-best 10-of-10 from the free throw line as LSU as a team converted 26-of-31 from the stripe. That is the second-highest total by an SEC team in a league game this season. Lutley accounted for 12 points and six boards in her final regular season home game. However, LSU is expected to earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament, which it hosts on March 24 and 26.
Theresa Plaisance and Danielle Ballard both finished with double-doubles. Plaisance had 13 points and 12 boards, while Ballard put in 14 points with 10 rebounds and five steals. Ballard shattered the LSU freshman single-season record for steals, eclipsing Joyce Walker's mark of 86 set in 1980-81. Ballard is now up to 87 steals, fourth in LSU overall single-season history and just six away from tying Marie Ferdinand's school record of 93 in 1999-2000.
Alabama (9-19, 2-13) dropped its ninth consecutive game and lost to LSU for the 16th straight time. The Tide is winless in Baton Rouge since Feb. 3, 1998.
Fittingly, Webb got the scoring going for LSU with a three from the right corner in the opening seconds. Plaisance followed with an old-fashioned three-point play. After three free throws, Webb hit a mid-range jumper and Ballard swished a shot from the left wing as LSU jumped out to a 13-0 advantage with 15:52 remaining in the first half. The Tide, meanwhile, missed its first nine shots before finally getting on the board.
The Lady Tigers led by 20 at the break, 39-19. Webb continued to work her way to the free throw line early in the second half, draining six consecutive free throws. Plaisance and Derreyal Youngblood added lay-ups as LSU poured it on, up 57-25 with 14:16 to go.
Both Lutley and Webb were lifted from the game in the final minute to a standing ovation.
"Coach Nikki kept telling us that we just came off a big win, but we can't take Alabama lightly," said Lutley. "We can't have a big upset and allow Alabama to come out and beat us. All of us had the mindset to come out tonight and get the win and that is what we did."
"You always want to go out with a bang," added Webb. "It just so happened that we went out with a really big bang on our senior night. This won't be the last night that we play in the PMAC. We hope to have two more games here."
For the eighth consecutive game, LSU dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Tide, 58-35. The Lady Tigers converted 21 second-chance points and accounted for 21 points off 18 Alabama turnovers.
HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
"Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley are our two seniors. I remember after the Tennessee game, the kids were very upset and Jeanne Kenney spoke up. She basically said, 'From here on out, from this game forward, I'm going to do everything I can for Webb and Lutley to go out as big as possible.' And since then, our team has done just that. That's what those two mean to our team. We've got kids stepping up in big time ways to make the seniors have their last night in regular season a very memorable one. I'm really proud of our team for playing as hard as they did tonight and staying focused."
On the turning point of the season...
"I think we started turning the corner at South Carolina. Although that was a loss, I saw a team that really tried to fight and put themselves in a position to win against a very good team. We also had that little stretch there with Kentucky, Texas A&M and Tennessee, but other than that, each game they've grown and gotten better. Even looking at the following week after Tennessee, we were able to come out and beat Georgia. Then that trip to Missouri proved they are a mature team, a team that's focused and knows what they have to do."
LSU Player Post Game Quotes
G ADRIENNE WEBB
On senior night...
"Well you always want to go out with a bang. It just so happened that we went out with a really big bang on our senior night. This won't be the last night that we play in the PMAC. We hope to have two more games here. The support we received these past four years was really amazing and the crowd we had tonight was a great way for us to go out. We really played like that tonight."
On playing through adversities throughout this season...
"It has been up and down. We started out with 10 (players) and now we are eight. We still regrouped and came together as a family. Even though we started out slow at the beginning of the season we are picking it up and becoming tighter. We have something to gain. That is getting that higher seed in the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament."
G BIANCA LUTLEY
On senior night...
"Of course we wanted to go out with a win tonight. Coach Nikki (Caldwell) kept telling us that we just came off a big win, but we can't take Alabama lightly. We can't have a big upset and allow Alabama to come out and beat us. All of us had the mindset to come out tonight and get the win and that is what we did."
On making improvements before Texas A&M and the SEC tournament...
"Coach always tells us that our defense can't allow the other team second chance points, getting on the boards, sharing the ball with each other, not playing lackadaisical, and don't take any possession off."