BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Sophomore guard Danielle Ballard converted a go-ahead layup with 20 seconds to play to lift the 15th-ranked LSU women’s basketball team past Michigan, 64-62, in the championship game of the Barclays Invitational on Saturday night in the Barclays Center.
“It was an incredible job by Danielle Ballard to get in there for the score,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “Players made plays tonight. When you get in late-game situations, that’s what it’s all about.”
The Lady Tigers (6-1) claimed their fourth straight win and did so overcoming a six-point deficit in the final five minutes. LSU put the finishing touches on a spectacular weekend that included a tough win over home favorite Rutgers on Friday and a win over the Wolverines (5-3) in the first meeting between the two teams since 2001.
“When you look at the turnaround from the Rutgers came to today with the late start, we were ready to play,” said Caldwell. “Michigan did a phenomenal job, especially in the second half. They shot extremely well from three. We did a fairly good job in the first half of taking away the three ball.”
Freshman guard Raigyne Moncrief was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after recording a combined 40 points and 11 steals in the two games. She finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four steals on Saturday night. Senior forward Shanece McKinney added 13 points and was also named to the all-tournament team.
Ballard, who missed the Rutgers game after serving a one-game suspension, finished with 10 points and accounted for LSU’s final four points. Her layup with 1:12 to play put the Lady Tigers up 62-59, but Michigan converted one of its 11 three-pointers to knot the game at 62 apiece with 42 seconds to go.
Caldwell called timeout and the Lady Tigers ran a play for Ballard. The sophomore then drove through the lane, missed a layup but gathered her own miss and converted for the score with 20 ticks left. LSU’s defense then forced Siera Thompson into a missed jumper, while McKinney collected the rebound and was fouled.
McKinney missed the front end of her free throw but a half court heave from Michigan did not get off in time before the final horn sounded.
Michigan out-rebounded and out-shot LSU from the floor, but the Lady Tigers made the plays when it counted most on both ends of the floor. LSU’s bench out-scored the Wolverines, 35-12.
“We talked about needing to get stops and we were able to do that,” said Caldwell. “We had the pressure that we needed and didn’t lose our defensive assignment.”
Jeanne Kenney drained three clutch threes and kept pace with Michigan’s deep shooters in the second half. The Wolverines outscored LSU 16-4 in the first seven minutes of the second stanza to erase a seven-point halftime deficit.
LSU used its athleticism in the first half with a 12-0 run to take a 29-22 lead into the locker room. DaShawn Harden made an immediate impact upon her return, collecting two steals that led to a coast-to-coast layup and a Jasmine Rhodes bucket. The Wolverines went nearly six minutes without a field goal.
LSU will visit Times Square Sunday morning before catching a commercial flight back to New Orleans and returning to campus. The Lady Tigers return to action quickly when they host Indiana State at 11:30 a.m. CT Tuesday in the Maravich Center. East Baton Rouge Parish schools have been invited to attend the game.