RALEIGH, N.C. – NC State’s low-post combination of Markeisha Gatling and Kody Burke combined for 50 points on 20-of-28 shooting as the 12th-ranked LSU women’s basketball team saw its winning streak end at seven games with an 89-79 loss to the Wolfpack on Friday night in Reynolds Coliseum.
The Lady Tigers (9-2) lost for the first time in over a month since Nov. 14 at Louisville. NC State (11-1) extended its winning streak to five straight in what was the first ever meeting between the two teams in Raleigh.
“We did not have our best night defensively,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “(Markeisha) Gatling and (Kody) Burke really exploited us and were dominant in the paint. We had an opportunity to cut into the lead but we kept swapping baskets. We had to get stops. We couldn’t get anything working in our favor defensively.”
Senior forward Theresa Plaisance led LSU with 18 points, while senior guard Jeanne Kenney finished with a season-high 17 points to go along with five assists and four steals. Freshman guard Rina Hill poured in a season-best 15 points on an efficient 7-of-8 shooting.
NC State’s post attack dominated the Lady Tigers for 40 paint points and 19 second-chance points. Gatling, who entered the game in the top five nationally in field goal percentage, was 11-of-13 for 25 points and eight rebounds. When she fell into foul trouble and picked up her fourth with 9:47 remaining, it was Burke who stepped up, finishing with 25 points.
LSU was an uncharacteristic 13-of-24 from the free throw line and it trailed for most of the game. Danielle Ballard’s jumper with 8:54 left in the first half gave the Lady Tigers their final lead, 24-21, before the Wolfpack went on a 13-1 run to take control into halftime.
On at least three occasions in the second half, LSU came within five points but it could never get the deficit to one possession. The Lady Tigers’ best chance came when Gatling went to the bench. Shanece McKinney and Plaisance converted layups to pull LSU within 64-59, but Burke answered with two of her own.
The backbreaker came on back-to-back threes from Len’Nique Brown and Burke with 4:46 to play that pushed the NC State lead back to double-digits.
NC State shot 52.5 percent from the floor to LSU’s 49.2 percent.
“We have to be better defensively,” said Caldwell. “We can’t go on the road and give up that many points because our lack of intensity. We are going to take ownership of it. We are going to have to dial up our intensity in defensive drills.”
The Lady Tigers break for the holidays and will return to practice on the night of Dec. 26 in preparation for a Dec. 30 game at home against Jackson State. It will be LSU’s final non-conference tune-up prior to the start of Southeastern Conference play at Tennessee on Jan. 2.