BATON ROUGE – Theresa Plaisance matched a season-high with 19 points, while Danielle Ballard provided her first career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds to spark the No. 12 LSU women’s basketball team to an 82-68 victory Sunday as a paid attendance of 3,672 fans gathered at the Maravich Center.
In the process, LSU (13-3, 2-1 SEC) ended the Gators (13-4, 3-1 SEC) nine-game winning streak and snapped a three-game losing skid to Florida which dated back to the 2010-11 season.
“I thought we could learn from Texas A&M,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I thought their guards set the tone, and they really disrupted our rhythm. They were showing that they were ready to play. We talked about that in our preparation and leading into our preparation. We got on the floor 30 minutes earlier than we typically do. We got on the floor and got mentally prepared for what we needed to do today. I think you have to play that way in the SEC. The team that comes out more aggressive and plays with a lot of energy, effort and plays together – those are the teams that will prevail in the end.”
For Plaisance, she poured in 15 of her 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting and was a spotless 5-for-5 at the foul line during the second half. She has reached double figures in six straight games and accounted for four consecutive 15-plus scoring efforts. The New Orleans native also scored 19 points as part of LSU’s 58-51 win over Arkansas-Little Rock on Dec. 15.
Ballard turned in a solid all-around performance with 15 points, a season’s best 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals. She recorded six of LSU’s 20 offensive rebounds for the game.
“I thought she (Ballard) was two different players. I think Thursday night (against Texas A&M) she played as complacent as I’ve seen her play all year,” Caldwell said. “Today, I felt like she was aggressive and had a ‘you can’t stop me’ mentality. I thought she was ready to set the tone for our team, and she did just that.”
Jeanne Kenney nearly joined Ballard by compiling her first career double-double. She dished out a career-high 10 assists and added nine points.
Shanece McKinney pumped in 10 points on 5-of-10 from the floor to go along with seven rebounds. It was McKinney’s first double digit scoring effort since the Indiana State game back on Dec. 3.
Florida had four players register double figures led by Cassie Peoples’ 22 points and Carlie Needles 17 points, respectively. Kayla Lewis tacked on 15 points and 17 rebounds, while the reigning two-time SEC Player of the Week, Jaterra Bonds, was limited to 11 second-half points on 2-of-11 shooting.
The Lady Tigers dominated the glass en route to a 50-29 rebounding advantage and scored 38 of the game’s 50 points in the paint. LSU also held a 26-5 edge in second-chance points.
“I think it’s a combination of effort, energy and making sure we try to keep them off the boards,” Caldwell said. “(Kayla) Lewis was the one who was really hurting us on the offensive glass in the first half. We really tried to key in keeping her off the glass. Our size was an advantage for us. I like the fact that we had (Raigyne) Moncrief and (Danielle) Ballard get on the boards. Our guards were rebounding the basketball so that makes a big difference. Derreyal Youngblood came in there and got some nice defensive rebounds which made a statement.”
LSU raced out to a 14-2 lead during the game’s first six minutes. The Lady Tigers were firing on all cylinders with a 6-of-12 shooting coupled with suffocating defense that forced Florida to misfire of 15 of their 17 field goal attempts. LSU pieced together four consecutive layups – two from Ballard sandwiched between McKinney and Plaisance bunnies.
Ahead 30-20 at the 5:17 mark, LSU used an eight-point surge over the next 3:06 capped by a Ballard jumper, a Harden triple and a Jasmine Rhodes jumper to grab its largest lead of the opening stanza at 38-20. The Lady Tigers carried a 40-25 edge into the locker room.
“We definitely wanted to come out and start off better than we did in the first half against Texas A&M,” Plaisance said. “That is where we feel we lost that game was in the first half. We didn’t come out with intensity or focused ready to play. We knew Florida was a great team, and they were on a nine-game winning streak. We knew we didn’t have room for any errors. Coming out strong was something we definitely focused on.”
LSU pushed its advantage to as big as 52-33 on a Moncrief jumper with 15:47 remaining in the second half. Midway through the frame, the Gators pieced together a 17-6 spurt to pull back to 64-57 with 7:07 to go on a pair of Peoples free throws.
The Lady Tigers turned to their bench where Harden and Boykin answered the call with a trio of jumpers. Youngblood added a free throw and Rina Hill drove the baseline for a left-handed layup to finish off a 9-2 LSU spurt which made it 73-59 advantage with 4:49 left on the clock. The Lady Tigers would close out victory by an 82-68 margin.
As a team, LSU was an efficient 32-of-68 from the floor. It marked the fourth time on the season that the Lady Tigers made 30-plus field goals. LSU was 2-for-8 from three-point range and registered a 16-for-21 mark at the free throw line.
The Gators secured a 17-for-56 shooting performance which included a 6-for-20 effort from triple territory. Florida was an impressive 28-for-31 from the charity stripe. The 28 free throws are a season’s best for a LSU opponent.
LSU begins its only two-game SEC road trip of the season Thursday at Missouri. Tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Mizzou Arena with no television coverage.
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.
LSU vs. Florida
January 12, 2014
LSU Head Coach Nikki Caldwell
“The SEC is a competitive conference to play in. You have Florida who has come in with a great win at Kentucky, and you respect them for what they’re capable of. I give a lot of credit to Florida for not giving up and to Coach (Amanda) Butler and her team for playing extremely well with seven players. I’m very proud to be a part of this conference and be a part of the competitiveness of two teams.”
On the team shooting twice as well versus Florida than it did versus Texas A&M…
“There was a focus to make layups. I thought we missed too many easy layups in the Texas A&M game. We left 34 points out there with 17 missed layups. Tonight, we missed some. But for the most part, I thought we really tried to focus in on making those baskets. Our perimeter shooting – we didn’t shoot that well from the three-point line, but we did get ourselves to the free throw line 20-plus times. We told our players, ‘if we’re not shooting the ball well, we need to get on the offensive glass’. Danielle Ballard really set the tone for us as a guard going in there crashing and getting those offensive put backs.”
On outrebounding Florida …
“I think it’s a combination of effort, energy and making sure we try to keep them off the boards. (Kayla) Lewis was the one who was really hurting us on the offensive glass in the first half. I want to say in the first half she had six offensive rebounds and for the game she got only one more after that. We really tried to key in keeping her off the glass. Our size was an advantage for us. I like the fact that we had (Raigyne) Moncrief and Ballard get on the boards. Our guards were rebounding the basketball so that makes a big difference. Derreyal Youngblood came in there and got some nice defensive rebounds which made a statement.”
On the guards being aggressive against Florida’s zone defense…
“I thought we did a nice job on ball reversal and finding the gaps to attack. We had some nice post feeds. We were able to still penetrate the defense putting the ball inside with post entries and dribble drives.”
On LSU’s energy verus Florida compared to the A&M game…
“I thought we could learn from Texas A&M. I thought their guards set the tone, and they really disrupted our rhythm. They were showing that they were ready to play. We talked about that in our preparation and leading into our preparation. We got on the floor 30 minutes earlier than we typically do. We got on the floor and got mentally prepared for what we needed to do today. I think you have to play that way in the SEC. The team that comes out more aggressive and plays with a lot of energy, effort and plays together – those are the teams that will prevail in the end.”
On traveling to Missouri next week…
“I hope that they are motivated. Their self-motivation comes from the fact that they are competitors. They get to wear Purple and Gold, and they represent something bigger than themselves. I hope we are not going into a storm again. We got snowed in and stuck up there last year, but it was a great experience for our kids because some of our kids never have seen snow. Missouri is a tough place to play. They have some legitimate players. They have a system that lends some trouble to our defensive scheme at times because they can really stretch you. We’ve struggled against teams that can stretch us in our zones. We really have to tweak some things, but stay true to our pressure.”
On Danielle Ballard stepping up as a leader after the Texas A&M loss…
“I thought she was two different players. I think Thursday night she played as complacent as I’ve seen her play all year. Today, I felt like she was aggressive and had a ‘you can’t stop me’ mentality. I thought she was ready to set the tone for our team, and she did just that.”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
FORWARD THERESA PLAISANCE
On starting off better against Florida…
“We definitely wanted to come out and start off better than we did in the first half against Texas A&M. That is where we feel we lost that game was in the first half. We didn’t come out with intensity or focused ready to play. We knew Florida was a great team, and they were on a nine-game winning streak. We knew we didn’t have room for any errors. Coming out strong was something we definitely focused on.”
On keeping the momentum and lead during the second half…
“Florida is a great team, and they are better second half team than they are in the first half. We knew if we could get a quick start on them in the first half – the second half when they make their run they always go on in the second half, we should have enough cushion to keep that lead. The second half they went on their run, and we did a good job of maintain and controlling it. We did what we had to do. We didn’t let them pull ahead like we did in the Texas A&M game. We let them pull ahead and started trading baskets. In this game, we got stops and converted on the other end. That was a big part of it too.”
On facing Missouri and Vanderbilt…
“Missouri is a tough place to play. They have a renovated arena and they have a pretty nice crowd. They are big basketball people out there. Playing against them, you always have to be aware of the shooters and their inside presence. One of their post players is their leading scorer right now. After that we are playing at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is one of the toughest places to play in the SEC. You have to be ready. They both have two great teams. It will be a tough road stretch for us. We have to stay focused and keep ourselves mentally ready for this away stretch.
CENTER SHANECE McKINNEY
On outrebounding Florida…
“I know that Coach (Nikki Caldwell) emphasizes that the post go to the glass especially when we play smaller teams. We already had that in our head to crash the boards and push people on the boards. No one can really keep us out of there if we go hard.”
On last year’s struggles on the road…
“We try to use that as motivation. We often compare last year to this point right now to see how much better we are. We just can’t have any letdowns at home or the road.”
G DANIELLE BALLARD
On her 12 rebounds against Florida…
“My mindset was to crash the boards every time. I know that we don’t always have a second chance. I always crash the boards every shot, and I end up with rebounds. I box out, so that is how I am able to get most rebounds. I was reading what side the ball would bounce off. Jeanne (Kenney) had a shot on the left side so I knew the ball was going to come off the other end.”
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“LSU, I thought, played a fantastic game. You’ve got to give them a lot credit especially for the way they came out and set the tone. We were chasing them from the beginning, and that’s not the way our team plays best. Once they got up on us, they did a good job of keeping their foot on the gas and making it very hard for us to creep back in. Our second half effort was fantastic, but that’s just not enough when you are playing a team in this league on their home court.”
On LSU’s outrebounding her team…
“We were very aware of it, and that’s always kind of a challenge for this team. If you look at the statistics though, the places that you would assume we would be weak is rebounders inside with (Theresa) Plaisance and (Shanece) McKinney giving up so much size to those guys. But the leading rebounders were (Danielle) Ballard and (Raigyne) Moncrief. We look at those two great players, but a little bit more preventable in terms of perimeter rebounding than the interior rebounding where you’ve given up so much size. I was really disappointed with our rebounding effort. I didn’t think we did a good job especially of boxing out the shooter, which as a rebounder is probably the most preventable play. We just didn’t do a good job of fundamentally being rebounders the way we needed to.”
On how she tried to encourage her team…
“This team has got an amazing spirit. If you know anything about our team or did any research beforehand, we are very resilient. They have put themselves in some tough spots before, found ways to rebound and had a lot of things to overcome this year. That’s something we draw great confidence from. Even though we knew we had dug ourselves a hole, we kind of know how to dig ourselves back out. We certainly play our best when we don’t dig those holes first, but it challenged their fighting attitude, their fighting spirit and then specifically dwelling on the things that we know make us a good team.”
On her postgame message to her team ….
“They are a pretty special bunch. There’s going to be a few things to say to them, but that’s one of the special things about this group. I don’t have to say a whole lot. We’ve got great leadership. They know what makes us good, and they know why when we play bad.”
FLORIDA PLAYER QUOTES
G Kayla Lewis
On LSU’s ability to stop Florida in the first half…
“I think it had a lot to do with our own team’s composure. LSU was rebounding the ball well and getting the ball back to people who were scoring. I do not think we did a good job of shooting the ball from the three-point line. You have to know where you get your bread-and-butter (plays come) from. In the first half, we just were not really thinking. We were not paying attention to where we were shooting from. In the second half, I think we took our time a little bit more. We played Florida basketball. We did not slow down and play the way that LSU wanted us to play. We just went in and tried to get back into the zone.”