COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Trailing 24-11 with 4:30 to go in the first half, the LSU women's basketball team refused to go away. What transpired over the next 24 minutes was a statement victory and a punctuation mark on an incredible run to end the regular season.
Junior Theresa Plaisance scored a game-high 16 points, and freshman Danielle Ballard notched her second straight double-double as the Lady Tigers out-scored No. 13 Texas A&M, 47-28 in the second half to claim their sixth straight victory by a score of 67-52 in front of 7,678 fans on Sunday afternoon in Reed Arena.
"A different team came to play since the last time we faced Texas A&M," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "We played together and we were unselfish. We refused to quit. We finally started scoring the basketball and we played like a team today. I am very proud of this group."
LSU concluded the regular season with a 19-10 overall record and claimed 10 Southeastern Conference wins for the second straight year under Caldwell. The win gave the Lady Tigers the No. 6 seed in next week's SEC Tournament. LSU will play an opponent to be determined in the second round at 7:30 p.m. CT Thursday in the Gwinnett Center. The contest will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN3.com.
|Ole Miss *||2-14||9-20|
|* ineligible for postseason play|
|SEC Tournament Matchups
All Times Central
Wednesday, March 6
(12) Mississippi St. vs. (13) Alabama, 5 p.m.
Thursday, March 7
(8) Arkansas vs. (9) Florida, 11 a.m.
(5) South Carolina vs. (12/13), 1:30 p.m.
(7) Vanderbilt vs. (10) Missouri, 5 p.m.
(6) LSU vs. (11) Auburn, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 8
(1) Tennessee vs. (8/9), 11 a.m.
(4) Texas A&M vs. (5/12/13), 1:30 p.m.
(2) Kentucky vs. (7/10), 5 p.m.
(3) Georgia vs. (6/11), 7:30 p.m.
Texas A&M (21-9, 11-5 SEC) dropped its third straight game and will be the No. 4 seed at the SEC Tournament. The Aggies shot just 32.8 percent, while the Lady Tigers fired in a stellar 61.5 percent from the floor in the second half to finish 51.0 percent for the game. Sunday's victory was the first for LSU over a top-15 team on the road in SEC play since the Lady Tigers beat No. 1 Tennessee in similar fashion on Feb. 14, 2008. Caldwell was in her final year as assistant coach on Pat Summitt's staff that season.
Plaisance reached double-figures for the second straight game, while Ballard finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. She took over in the second half. Bianca Lutley added 14 points and five assists and Adrienne Webb had 11 points
LSU's defense was tremendous throughout as Plaisance and Shanece McKinney frustrated Kelsey Bone, one of the nation's top players. Bone had 13 points but finished 6-of-19 from the floor.
The Lady Tigers closed the first half with a 9-0 run in the final 4:30 and stole the momentum, trailing only 24-20 at halftime. Ballard tied the game at 25 all in the first two minutes of the second half. Plaisance then showed her range, burying two threes. A Lutley lay-up made it 36-29 with 15:22 to go.
"We did some great things in the second half," said Caldwell. "It started with us taking care of the basketball and keeping them off the offensive glass. We didn't allow them to have putbacks in the second half. I was proud with how we finished."
A&M managed to tie the game at 44, but LSU separated the score for good starting on a Jeanne Kenney jumper with 9:24 left. Webb made a three and she was fouled. The Lady Tigers then converted a series of old-fashioned three-point plays by Webb and Lutley. Lutley's free throws with 4:33 to go pushed the LSU advantage to double-digits. Lutley and Ballard closed the scoring with lay-ups in the final minute.