BATON ROUGE – Theresa Plaisance secured 10 of her team-leading 16 points during the second half, but the No. 12 LSU women’s basketball team dropped a 52-48 decision to Texas A&M during its SEC home opener Thursday at the Maravich Center.
LSU (12-3, 1-1 SEC) had its three-game winning streak come to a close, while the Aggies (12-4, 2-0 SEC) collected their five consecutive win and have emerged with wins during two of the three meetings between the two teams as SEC rivals.
“Texas A&M came in here with a game plan. It started with their defensive pressure, and they executed their game plan more efficient than ours,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “Their players made plays when they had to for their team. When they needed to build their momentum, they did it through their defensive pressure and turned us over almost 20 times. We’ve got to learn how to be a team that takes care of the basketball. We can’t have all these empty possessions. Defensively, we did a good enough when you keep a team at 52 points in a game. But offensively, we did not handle their pressure.”
For Plaisance, it was her fifth straight double digit scoring performance. She was 5-of-13 from the floor and knocked down 6-of-8 at the foul line. The New Orleans native also registered seven rebounds and two steals over her season’s best 38 minutes of action.
Jeanne Kenney chipped in a solid all-around effort with 10 points, four assists and four steals. The four steals equaled a season-high. She battled through foul trouble to garner her fifth consecutive double figure scoring outing.
Danielle Ballard and Raigyne Moncrief were limited to five points apiece on a combined 3-for-12 shooting. LSU’s starting backcourt of Ballard, Kenney and Moncrief accounted for 13 turnovers. Ballard pulled down a game-high eight rebounds for the Lady Tigers.
DaShawn Harden tallied five points and a career-best seven rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. However, she misfired on 11 of her 13 field goal attempts.
Texas A&M was fueled by Courtney Williams’ 17 points and seven rebounds before she fouled out with just over five minutes remaining. Courtney Walker picked up 12 points and six rebounds. She drained the go-ahead basket with 47 seconds left on the clock. Jordan Jones added nine points and four assists for the Aggies.
As a team, LSU was only able to muster a 15-for-57 effort from the floor. The 15 field goals and 26 percent shooting ratio were both season-lows. The Lady Tigers tallied a 3-for-9 performance on triples and connected for 15-of-21 at the free throw line.
Texas A&M countered with a 18-for-53 shooting performance, misfired on all four of its three-pointers and tallied a 16-for-22 from the charity stripe.
Down 34-25 at the 14:04 mark of the second half, LSU turned up the defensive intensity and ripped off 14 straight points over a 5:57 stretch. The Lady Tigers forced Texas A&M into four straight misses and seven turnovers.
LSU drew even at 34-34 with 9:26 left on a Harden triple off a Kenney feed. On its next possession, two Kenney free throws put the Lady Tigers ahead for the first time since the closing minutes of the first half.
LSU capped its 20-4 flurry with a Plaisance jumper from Kenney to grab a 45-38 edge with 5:26 remaining. Plaisance scored all 10 of her second half points during the 8:38 run for the Lady Tigers.
After the Aggies lost Williams to five fouls, Texas A&M countered with nine consecutive points of its own. Walker knocked down a deep two-pointer on the left baseline with 41.8 seconds to go to vault the Aggies to a 47-45 edge.
LSU had three opportunities to even the tally. Danielle Ballard split a pair of free throws with the clock sitting at 29 seconds. Trailing by a point, the Lady Tigers were forced to foul. Five seconds later, Jones delivered two free throws to push A&M up 49-46.
LSU elected to go for two and received a Moncrief layup to cut the A&M advantage down to 49-48 with 14 seconds left. The Aggies knocked down 1-of-2 at the foul line to make it a two-point game.
LSU’s last possession ended in a turnover on a Walker steal, and A&M tacked on two free throws courtesy of Walker with 0.1 seconds remaining for the final margin of 52-48.
“I saw A&M go to another level (after Williams fouled out),” Caldwell said. “I thought they really did a nice job of cutting into our lead. They were really efficient in the last minute. We were less efficient, and our focus wasn’t there. If you look at the last four minutes down the stretch, they were more efficient than we were.”
LSU will look to regroup with a Sunday matinee against Florida at the Maravich Center. Tip time is slated for 12 p.m. from the Maravich Center, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Talk 107.3 FM in the Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, will call the action.
For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/womensbasketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuwbkb along with @lsuwbkb and @nikkicaldwell on Twitter.
No. 12 LSU vs. Texas A&M
January 9, 2014
“Texas A&M came in here with a game plan. It started with their defensive pressure, and they executed their game plan more efficient than ours. Their players made plays when they had to for their team. When they needed to build their momentum, they did it through their defensive pressure and turned us over almost 20 times. We’ve got to learn how to be a team that takes care of the basketball. We can’t have all these empty possessions. We had 20 of them in this game. Defensively, we did a good enough when you keep a team at 50 points a game. But offensively, we did not handle their pressure. We did not do a great job of scoring in the paint, and that goes back to missing 17 layups at the rim.”
On the team’s offensive struggles and shooting 26 percent from the field…
“We got easy looks. We got the ball inside quite a bit. We shot a horrendous percentage. I think that’s the lowest we’ve shot on the season. Offensively, we didn’t handle their pressure. Having 19 turnovers is way too many against an explosive team like A&M who does a great job of capitalizing on those turnovers. Almost half their points came from turnovers. I give a lot of credit to A&M for really bringing the defensive heat and putting us on our heels.”
On the competitiveness of the SEC…
“It’s extremely competitive. You don’t look at anybody’s record prior to that game. You don’t look at the standings or where you’re ranked because there’s a different level of competition in this conference. We’re going to have to move forward from this game. We have a tough opponent (Florida) coming in on Sunday. There’s no time for us to hold our head down. We’ve got to focus and really come back together as a group.”
On shooting zero free throws in the first half and 21 in the second half…
“I thought we did a nice job of really trying to put the ball inside. We didn’t do a great job every time of scoring it, but the looks were there. We wanted to make sure that we eliminated some of our turnovers. For the most part, I thought we played aggressively trying to get in the paint.”
On Texas A&M after Courtney Williams fouled out with five minutes left in the game…
“I saw A&M go another level. I thought they really did a nice job of cutting into our lead. They were really efficient in the last minute. We were less efficient, and our focus wasn’t there. If you look at the last four minutes down the stretch, they were more efficient than we were.”
On the last possession of the game …
“I had no more timeouts, and there was plenty of time for us to dribble drive penetration to a kick out. We got deep in the paint, and we didn’t see our kick out people. I saw Theresa (Plaisance) and DaShawn (Harden) spotting up, but we have players trying to be aggressive and drive to the hole. We need to make sure we don’t put ourselves in those positions where we have to go into desperation mode. We need to make sure we’re doing all the things to lead up to that late-game situation where we’re more in control and not playing from behind. You have to get a shot up at that time, but it will be a learning experience for us. We will be making sure that players are keyed on who we want the ball to go to at crucial times. We will definitely learn from this.”
GUARD JEANNE KENNEY
On Texas A&M’s defense…
“I thought they were pressuring us – pressuring us meaning the guards. They did a really good job of pressuring us and getting us out of a rhythm. Our post players were doing all they could, but it was up to the guards. We didn’t get the job done - very much respect to Texas A&M’s defense.”
On the last play of the game…
“We were trying to get a two-point shot obviously. I actually think we were being too unselfish. We should have got the shot up. You definitely always want a shot over a turnover, no doubt. It is a learning experience – a learning experience for our freshmen. No one play loses the game. I think Raigyne (Moncrief) is a player that takes everything very seriously. She wants to be a perfectionist. I have a lot of respect for that. It was definitely a learning experience. We all lost. Ray didn’t lose the game for us. We all lost. In that respect it is a learning experience, and hopefully we will grow from it.”
On starting off hot in the first half…
“I did start off shooting the ball well. That was because at one point Danielle (Ballard) drove and gave me a wideopen look. Anne (Pedersen) hit me on one of our plays. I wouldn’t get any shots up if my teammates didn’t pass me the ball. I thought that the foul trouble that I put myself in got me out of a rhythm. I have to be smarter. I can’t put myself on the bench like that.”
GUARD DASHAWN HARDEN
On her energy from her three-point shot to start the second half run…
“I don’t think it was necessary my three. Before that, we were getting a lot of defensive stops. I think that is where our energy came from. That is what gave me the energy to make the three. When we play better defense, offense comes more naturally for us.”
FORWARD THERESA PLAISANCE
On tonight’s energy in the PMAC…
“We were definitely getting hyped from the crowd. There was one point during a four-minute segment where they didn’t score a single point. We just give that all to the crowd. I couldn’t even hear the person next to me. At that point, it was a good thing. I didn’t want to hear anybody besides the crowd. They were pulling us through. We really appreciate all the support that was shown tonight. Hopefully, it continues throughout the season.”
On learning from this game…
“During practice, we always scrimmage our practice team with us being down by so much with so many minutes left on the court. First half, calls weren’t going our way. We need to a better job of finishing inside going through contact. Not every call is going to be made or seen. We can’t be down there hoping for a call. We have to power through and put it on ourselves. Second half, when we went on that run, I think, like DaShawn said, it came from our defense. That sparked our offense. The crowd was getting us in it. When we went on that 13-0 run, it really sparked from our defense. Building off that on the offense end was a really good thing for us. We turned around and get a stop on the defensive end. We started tallying up points and holding them to a goose egg. It correlated in our way. At the end of the day, we need to get stops at the end of the game. It really started in the first half. That is how we lost it.”
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
“It was a great basketball game as usual between two rivals now. Whether we like it or not, LSU is our rival in every sport. We’re travel partners; we need to embrace it. We owe you a couple from football over the last couple of years – what a hard fought ball game. Neither team played well. Both teams played hard, made the tough shots and did the little things right on the defensive end. We held a great team, No. 12 in the nation, to shoot 26 percent. Let’s give (Assistant) Coach (Bob) Starkey a lot of credit. He’s our defensive guru, and he was your defensive guru. He’s done a heck of a job for us, and you can’t have him back. I’m so pleased that we went 12 minutes I believe without scoring, and it was like 34-26 or something. LSU took control of the game, and we were in foul trouble. For us to come back and put our leading scorer on the bench (Courtney Williams) – that was tough, but she still found a way to get 17 points. Jordan (Jones) had to play the whole way for us. I think I gave her one little break. Whether you win or lose the game, you take the point guard with you to the press room. I commend your crowd. They were loud and noisy. You had a well-called ball game. It was a tough game to officiate, a tough game to coach and a tough game to play. If you’re going to win in this league, you’re probably going to have four losses. LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky have all lost their home opener. Those might be the best three teams in the league. That’s what we have with parity now in this league. The bottom feeders of last year are a lot better this year. There were a lot of good kids who graduated from the league, and you got three dynamic seniors on your team with (Jeanne) Kenney, (Theresa) Plaisance and (Shanece) McKinney. Those kids are just winners.”
On the rest of his team contributing…
“Make sure you give credit to Rachel Mitchell, our 6-foot 7 player who’s just coming in to her own. She’s just like ‘Tank’ (Derreyal Youngblood) for y’all. She doesn’t get a whole lot of minutes, but we had to have her. In 11 minutes, she gave me six rebounds and four blocked shots. I’m hoping that will build her confidence up. Our Louisiana kid, Tori Scott, played very well coming off the bench because (Courtney) Walker was not having a good ballgame. That’s our go-to outside shooter. She was 4-of-17, but she hit the big shot that put us up. That was just a key in the ballgame.”
On the game…
“We are going to take it. It’s a ‘W’. We are going to Georgia next then we have South Carolina and Mississippi State. It’s the SEC. It makes you really proud to say you’re in this league. You know the best thing about SEC – you know I was at Arkansas for 10 years – is that when the games are over, people pull for each other and applaud the good because we had a lot of compliments from the LSU fans after the game. That’s the way it should be. Sometimes in the Big 12, it wasn’t quite that way all the time if you were playing in Austin or Baylor or Lubbock. This is what I like about the SEC. Look at the history of your program. We’re trying to get where you’ve been. That was part of our talk today. You’ve been to five Final Fours; we’ve been to one. Starkey was at all five of them. You’ve got Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, and (Pokey) Chatman. You’ve got so many great players, and you’ve got the great Sue Gunter. You might have the best young coach in the game. She’s close to it right now. So pay her whatever you have to keep her here.”
G JORDAN JONES
On going to the free-throw line in the closing minutes of the game…
“I just blocked everybody else out like it was just me at the free-throw line. Back at home in our practice gym when we work on free throws, coaches have us do 500 free throws a week so basically the crowd didn’t affect me. There was nobody in the gym but me. I just stepped to the line and did what I worked on in practice.”
F COURTNEY WILLIAMS
On leading her team…
“I was just scoring easy like Coach Blair tells me all the time. I felt like when I got my fourth foul and got on the bench that I had to stay focused. We were shooting too many jump shots which is what they wanted us to do. When I got back in, I attacked and got to the free-throw line. I knocked down my free throws.”