LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Senior forward Theresa Plaisance erupted for a game-high 19 points and 15 rebounds and LSU’s true freshmen ignited a comeback as the 13th-ranked Lady Tigers shook off a sluggish first half to defeat Arkansas-Little Rock, 58-51, on Sunday afternoon in the Jack Stephens Center.
LSU (8-1) won its sixth straight contest and had to do it while recovering from a nine-point first-half deficit and a 30-24 halftime margin. The Lady Tigers had not played in 12 days while focusing on a concentrated study period and academic finals.
“They did a phenomenal job against us in the first half of pushing tempo and scoring in transition,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “In the second half we finally started controlling the tempo of the game. We are glad to come out of here with a win in a tough place to play.”
UALR (4-4) was outscored 34-21 in the second half in what was the first ever meeting between the two teams. The Trojans, the defending Sun Belt Western Division champions, saw a nine-game home winning streak come to an end. They were previously 103-20 in the building since it opened during the 2005-06 season.
Plaisance registered her second double-double of the season and 10th of her career. She took over the game with aggressive play, scoring 15 points in the second half. Her 15 boards for the game tied a career high, which she previously set against Wichita State last season on Nov. 11, 2012.
Freshman Raigyne Moncrief started the game 0-of-5 from the floor but finished with 11 points. Senior guard Jeanne Kenney added 10 points and buried two threes. She moved into ninth place in LSU career threes with now 80.
After being held to a season-low 24 points in the first half, Caldwell started the second half with the lineup of Kenney, McKinney and the freshmen trio of Moncrief, Rina Hill and Jasmine Rhodes. The freshmen ignited a spark with athletic play and tremendous defense.
“That has been an area that has challenged us, the start of the second half,” said Caldwell. “We found a nice combination. We did a nice job changing up our defense, playing hard and making hustle plays. I give credit to our team for pulling through there.”
Moncrief scored six in a row to pull LSU within a point, 33-32 in the first three minutes of the second stanza. McKinney then put LSU ahead on an offensive rebound and follow. UALR, meanwhile, went cold from the floor for over six minutes.
Plaisance entered the game at the 12:35 mark with the Lady Tigers up 40-35. That’s when LSU took over the game on both ends of the floor. Hill found her for a layup and Plaisance took advantage of the Trojans’ foul trouble by getting to the line. She made six straight free throws during a 7-0 run.
The Lady Tigers held UALR to 34.8 percent shooting in the second half, while the Trojans’ 51 points were the fewest by an opponent against LSU this season. The Lady Tigers dominated the boards, 42-28, despite shooting 31.9 percent for the game.
LSU faces a quick turnaround in preparation for Tuesday’s home game against Florida Gulf Coast. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Maravich Center. The game will be televised by CST.
NOTES: LSU improved to 41-4 all-time against current Sun Belt Conference teams … UALR returns the trip to Baton Rouge next season … LSU improved to 42-12 against unranked teams under Nikki Caldwell … Sophomore center Derreyal Youngblood did not play after feeling ill on Sunday morning … Sophomore guard Danielle Ballard made the trip but did not play after continuing to serve a suspension for violation of team rules … This week’s “The Nikki Caldwell Show” presented by Capital One Bank will be held at 8 p.m. Monday at TJ Ribs Acadian following “The Johnny Jones Show” … Fans can get into Tuesday’s FGCU game for only $2 by donating a toy for “Toys for Tots” bins that will be located at the Maravich Center … Fans can also get into that game for $2 by wearing a Christmas sweater.