Women's Basketball Upended by Arkansas, 57-53
BATON ROUGE – The No. 19 LSU women’s basketball team dropped its fourth consecutive game as Arkansas rallied behind seven three-pointers during the second half to defeat the Lady Tigers by a 57-53 margin Sunday at the Maravich Center.
After today’s action, LSU (18-9, 7-7 SEC) sits in a three-way tie for fifth place with Florida and Vanderbilt in the SEC standings. The four-game losing streak is the longest for the Lady Tigers dating back to the 1994-95 season.
The Razorbacks (18-9, 5-9 SEC) snapped a five-game SEC road losing streak and have won five of the last seven meetings between the two teams since the 2010-11 season. A key to the Arkansas comeback was a 28-14 edge in second chance points.
“It was a tale of two halves, I thought our team really started the game well in the first half by setting the tone,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “We did a nice job of keeping a very good basketball team under 20 points. We talked about what we would need to do in the second half. Obviously in the second half, Arkansas did a nice job of rebounding the basketball. You have to finish games off your defense and your board play. I thought that was a challenge for us, and I thought that hurt us.”
Theresa Plaisance registered 14 points and 10 rebounds en route to her sixth double-double of the season. It was her 17th straight game with double figures. The 14 points enabled Plaisance to move past DeTrina White (1998-2003) for 22nd place on LSU’s all-time scoring list.
Jeanne Kenney came away with 10 points, six rebounds and two assists. All 10 of Kenney’s points came during the second half. She has reached double figures in four of her last five outings.
Off the bench, Shanece McKinney notched nine points on 4-of-6 shooting during her 16 minutes of action. DaShawn Harden tacked on eight points and two steals starting in place of Raigyne Moncrief who missed the contest with an injury. It snapped a streak of 26 consecutive starts for the freshman guard.
Arkansas was fueled by Jessica Jackson’s 25 points, her second highest scoring total of the season. She amassed 20 points aided by four triples during the second half. Keira Peak and Bria Pitts chipped in 10 and nine points for the Razorbacks, respectively.
“There were some bright spots,” Caldwell said. “I thought our bench did a nice job coming in and giving us some valuable minutes through their effort. Hopefully, this team can take a page from Arkansas, who really fought to the end. We’re capable of doing that, and we’ve shown that we can. We have to have that same type of intensity. We just have to do it for 40 minutes.”
LSU ripped off the game’s first seven points and raced out to a 16-3 advantage at the 10:09 mark of the opening half. The Lady Tigers were sparked by a balanced attack with six Harden points, four Plaisance points and four Ballard points. On the defensive end, LSU forced Arkansas to misfire on 14 of its first 15 field goal attempts.
The Lady Tigers continued their strong defensive play and took a 27-17 lead into halftime. It marked the third time this season that LSU has held an opponent to under 20 points in the first half.
LSU went up by as much as 32-17 with 18:05 remaining after a Kenney triple before the Razorbacks charged back with 28 of the game’s next 36 points over the next 12:00 off the clock.
Jackson ignited the spurt with six consecutive points followed by three Pitts treys. Then, Jackson canned a trio of triples over a six possession span to cap the spurt and give Arkansas a 45-40 edge with 5:27 left.
LSU responded with seven consecutive points over a 52-second stretch. A Boykin traditional three-point play knotted the score at 45-45, and Kenney followed with two free throws to push the Lady Tigers back ahead 47-45.
The Razorbacks put together seven of the next eight points to retake the lead 52-48 after a Peak layup coupled with a Jackson three-ball at the 2:42 mark.
Trailing 54-51 with under a minute to go, Arkansas gathered a critical offensive rebound which forced the Lady Tigers to foul. The Razorbacks knocked down three of their four free throws to come away with the 57-53 decision.
“It’s next practice, next game,” Caldwell said. “It’s really about us finding love not only for the game but for one another and bringing the team chemistry to a place where we can get this going in the right direction. It’s an attitude that you have to have, and it’s an attitude that must become contagious. We’re going to keep trying every day to see what’s going to work for this group, and what’s going to allow us to prepare in a way so that we can win. That has a lot to do with not only our leadership with players that have been there, but with players that are newer. We have to have eager followers as well as great leadership.”
LSU wraps up its regular season home schedule Thursday as No. 10 Tennessee visits the Maravich Center for “Senior Night.” Tip time is scheduled for 8 p.m., and the game will televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS), Cox Sports Television (CST) and www.WatchESPN.com. The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, will have the radio call.
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 Head Coach Nikki Caldwell
“It was a tale of two halves, I thought our team really started the game well in the first half by setting the tone. We did a nice job of keeping a very good basketball team under 20 points in the half. We talked about what we would need to do in the second half. Obviously in the second half, Arkansas did a nice job of rebounding the basketball. You have to finish games off your defense and your board play. I thought that was a challenge for us, and I thought that hurt us. There were some bright spots. I thought our bench did a nice job coming in and giving us some valuable minutes through their effort. Hopefully, this team can take a page from Arkansas, who really fought to the end. We’re capable of doing that, and we’ve shown that we can. We have to have that same type of intensity. We just have to do it for 40 minutes.”
On the starters sitting for seven minutes during the second half…
“I felt as though our bench played hard. We have been talking about them sustaining, and they did. They did a nice job of really trying to really get the tempo in our favor. You have two or three players that have started in that second rotation so you’ve got some experience there. I liked our bench playing hard. When you go back and watch film, which we will, we had plenty of time to come back with our starters and with the lead. I would say that Arkansas did a nice job of getting on the offensive glass and gave themselves second and third chance opportunities. I thought our bench did a nice job considering they were going up against their starters.”
On the lack of team chemistry causing issues leading into this game…
“Team chemistry is tricky. I would say chemistry is about spending time with someone and not just in practice because you really don’t get to spend time with them. I think its relationship and respect that’s developed off the court. It needs to be natural. We’ve done team building exercises, but you need the realness of chemistry. You also need the realness of the appreciation that you get to wear the Purple and Gold every day – that you represent so many other players that have put their sweat equity into this game. That alone should bring some type of chemistry. We have to go back to realizing why we’re here. If they can really grasp that this time is precious and goes fast, then hopefully, we may then spend a little bit more time together. Chemistry is different, but it’s something that can be developed. It’s developed, but it needs to be nurtured. When you lose some games, it can definitely divide your team. It can eat at the core of who your team can become if you’re not taking ownership of it. The one thing that we talk about and we stress that athletics makes leaders. Leaders emerge in different forms and fashion. They may emerge after this loss, but somebody has to emerge. We’re going to do our part as their staff to give them the necessary tools.”
On about the team’s upcoming schedule…
“It’s next practice, next game. We’ve got two really tough opponents coming up. We have Tennessee coming here, and Alabama is a tough place to play. Right after that, we have the SEC tournament. It’s really about us finding love not only for the game but for one another and bringing the team chemistry to a place where we can get this going in the right direction. It’s an attitude that you have to have, and it’s an attitude that must become contagious. We’re going to keep trying every day to see what’s going to work for this group, and what’s going to allow us to prepare in a way so that we can win. That has a lot to do with not only our leadership with players that have been there, but with players that are newer. We have to have eager followers as well as great leadership.”
LSU Guard Jeanne Kenney
On losing the lead…
Well, I think when you give up as many offensive rebounds as we did, they basically had 28 points off our inability to box out. That plays a huge part. It’s not just predicated on the post players and being able to box out. Those are long rebounds. Those are guard rebounds. We didn’t get the job done, and that’s 100 percent our fault.”
On the team’s mentality during Arkansas’ run…
“We need to rebound. When you give up 23 offensive rebounds – scouting report wise, we knew they could rebound. They did a magnificent job of really crashing the boards and kicking it out to their three-point shooters. That’s a pet play. An offensive rebound to a kickout three. That’s a pet play. Anybody’s spirit is diminished once that happens, and that happened consecutively.”
On the starters sitting during a portion of the second half …
“We didn’t do what we needed to do. We needed to come out, have a great start and we didn’t do that. That second group came in and played extremely hard. I’m very proud of them for coming in and playing the way they did. It’s everybody’s role to come in and play the best that they can play. We didn’t do that tonight.”
LSU Forward Theresa Plaisance
On Arkansas’ second half performance…
“They had every offensive rebound that they wanted basically. Their hustle was just there. They were intense. They were doing whatever it takes to have it on the floor, jumping out of bounds to save loose balls to give them another opportunity to score. A lot of those were kicked back to the three-point shot that just happened to be falling for them in the second half a lot more than it did in the first half. Number 22 (Bria Pitts) came off the bench and did a really good job for them. We really didn’t have an answer for that three-point shot because we didn’t do what we had to do before hand in controlling the boards and getting a body on somebody and boxing out.”
On their pregame mentality…
“Coming into tonight, we knew that Arkansas was a team to be reckoned with. Their record really doesn’t show how good they are. Every game that they’ve lost, they’ve been in. It could have gone either way really for most of them. We knew they were going to be a tough team. They have a lot of weapons – one being a freshman (Jessica Jackson) that did really well tonight. This was not a game we needed to take lightly, and we didn’t take it lightly. They just did a better job than us, and they wanted it more than us.”
ARKANSAS HEAD COACH TOM COLLEN QUOTES
“Well, I was really proud of the way our kids played. They looked like they really weren’t ready to play at the beginning of the game. They battled to go into the locker room down 10. It didn’t seem like a very close game, but it was closer than when we got down early on. They came out of the locker room, and they fought hard probably about as hard as I’ve seen them fight in a tough environment. They just found a way to win, and I couldn’t be more proud of the way they played.”
On his team’s performance from the three-point line…
“I’ve always said that this is one of the better shooting teams that I’ve had. If you looked at us in the preseason from the three-point line, we were one of the best shooting teams in the country. You look at us in the [Southeastern Conference] stats, and we’re the worst three-point shooting team in the conference. That was a little bit of a surprise to me. One of the goals on the board was to make some three’s to win the game. We didn’t take many in the first half, and the ones we took we missed. In the second half, we found a way to get them. [Jessica Jackson] stepped up and hit five of them. Bria Pitts came off the bench and hit three of them and kind of got us started. We got on a roll with it. I think this team’s capable of making shots like this, but we certainly haven’t done it on a consistent basis since the SEC started.”
On what this win does for his team’s postseason chances…
“I think it keeps us alive. We felt like we really needed that Vanderbilt win, and the reason we needed that win was so that we could come into this game with a positive attitude and find a way to win this game or win at Texas A&M. Losing that game was awfully hard on this team psychologically. That might have something to do with our slow start to this game, but once we got excited we found a way to get it done. These last games we’ve got – we play Vanderbilt, we play LSU, we got Texas A&M on the road, that’s going to be a tough task – but if you find a way to do that and beat Missouri and go 7-9 and go to the SEC tournament on a little bit of a roll then I think the committee has to look at you. If we are able to accomplish something like that, our RPI is going to rise because we’re playing good teams. We needed to get another signature win under our belts, and we did that with LSU so that helps.”
On LSU pulling starters for six minutes in the second half…
“It was for a long spell. I can tell you there were two or three timeouts. Every time we went to a timeout, I didn’t notice if they had their starters at the table. I kept asking my assistants. Coaching is a tough business sometimes. I know they haven’t exactly been on a roll lately, and she’s (Coach Caldwell) probably at a point where she feels like she has to make a point with those kids and make sure that they understand that she’s willing to go with her starters on the bench in order to make that point and make them a better team so that they can get in the tournament and make a run. I think that’s good coaching.”
On what makes forward Jessica Jackson such a special player…
“I started watching her when she was in the 9th grade, and she’s just that unique 6” 3’ kid that has length and can shoot the heck out of it – pass a little bit and rebound. She’s really the prototype forward in college basketball today. She’s had her ups and downs although she’s been amazingly consistent in the SEC since league play started. She’s a tough kid. She’d be the first one to tell you that she has a lot of things to learn. I think she knows that I believe in her. I’m going to keep going to her. She’s going to grow in the process, and she’s going to keep getting better. I tell people all the time that I think you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg as to how good this young lady is going to be in the next two to three years.”
F JESSICA JACKSON QUOTES
On scoring 20 points in the second half…
“Coach was just putting us in sets. We ran those right and got good shots.”
On if LSU was coasting after the first half…
“I think they did because of how bad we shot it at the beginning. We went back in there down by 10, and they were probably saying before the game started, ‘We have this win.’”