COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Danielle Ballard turned in a solid all-around effort with 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists but the No. 16 LSU women’s basketball team was handed a 72-67 defeat by No. 19 Texas A&M Sunday at Reed Arena.
With the loss, LSU (18-6, 7-4 SEC) dropped into a fifth-place tie with Florida in the SEC standings whereas Texas A&M (18-6, 8-2 SEC) earned a two-game season sweep over the Lady Tigers and moved into a second-place tie in the SEC race. It was the first home win recorded by either team in the series during their four SEC meetings.
The Aggies were aided by a trio of offensive putbacks down the stretch after the last media timeout, two by Courtney Walker 38 seconds apart on consecutive possessions during the final 92 seconds. Texas A&M also benefited from a 25-for-35 effort at the free throw line which included a 24-for-30 mark during the second half.
“We knew this was going to be a hard-fought game,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “Both teams did a lot of good things to position themselves to win. I thought A&M did what they needed to do down the stretch especially with their board play. They got a lot of second and third opportunities. They were the better team, and they played with a lot of toughness.”
Ballard’s 22 points was fueled by 16 second-half points and her third 20-point performance on the season. All three efforts have come on the road. She connected on 10-of-19 from the floor and secured nine rebounds nearly picking up her second double-double of the 2013-14 season.
Raigyne Moncrief compiled 11 of her 15 points during the second half. She hauled down a career-high tying nine rebounds and snatched four steals over a career-best 38 minutes of action. It marked her fourth consecutive game and five of the last six outings for the freshman guard with 10-plus points.
Theresa Plaisance tacked on 12 points en route to her 14th straight game in double figures. She registered nine rebounds almost claiming her fifth double dip for the season.
Off the bench, LSU’s top performer was Sheila Boykin. She worked her way to four points and three rebounds. The Lady Tigers were held to eight bench points, its second-lowest total of the season. LSU has lost three of five games when being outscored on bench points this season.
Texas A&M’s Courtney Walker and Courtney Williams played the entire 40 minutes for the Aggies. The duo combined for 38 points and 15 of the team’s 23 field goals. Walker came away with 22 points on a 10-for-20 shooting clip. Karla Gilbert and Tori Scott added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
LSU scored a 38 of the game’s 60 points in the paint and garnered a healthy 17-2 edge in fastbreak points. However, the Aggies were able to secure a 25-11 margin at the charity stripe and took advantage of 30 fouls whistled on LSU.
As a team, LSU was 27-of-67 but misfired on 11 of its 13 attempts from three-point territory. The Lady Tigers made 11-of-17 at the foul line.
Texas A&M countered with a 23-for-57 shooting performance and connected on 1-of-4 treys. The Aggies lived at the line especially during the second half where they drained 24 of their 25 free throws.
The two teams went back-and-forth during the opening moments of the first half. With LSU ahead 15-13 at the 9:48 mark, the Lady Tigers put together seven of the next nine points to take a seven-point lead. Boykin ignited the spurt with a layup, Kenney added a triple from the right wing and Ballard drove the lane for a layup to make it 22-15.
LSU was held without a field goal for the last 5:43 of the stanza. The Aggies took advantage with eight consecutive points to secure a 25-24 edge going into the locker room.
Texas A&M capped the 12-0 run with a Gilbert layup and a Walker jumper to go up 29-24 inside the opening minute of the second half.
The Lady Tigers stabilized and two McKinney free throws brought LSU back to 37-36 with 13:15 left. After getting into the bonus during the first four minutes of the fame, the Aggies scored eight straight points at the foul line. Back-to-back Scott baskets gave Texas A&M its largest lead at 49-42 with 9:45 on the clock.
LSU would charge back behind Ballard and Moncrief, who combined for 17 of the team’s last 25 points. The Lady Tigers got as close as one point on four separate occasions, but Texas A&M was able to answer each time.
With the score 64-63, Walker nailed a jumper deep into the shot clock at the 2:28 mark. Ballard drove quickly for runner in the lane, but the Aggies were able to get three opportunities on its next possession. Walker got a layup off an assist from Jordan Jones to push the A&M edge back to 68-65.
Ballard canned a jumper to again bring LSU back within a single point, but Walker cleaned up A&M’s next possession with a reverse layup on a putback to put the Aggies back up by three at 70-67 with 53.5 seconds remaining.
The Lady Tigers misfired on four jumpers during the final minute and A&M converted on two final free throws to tuck away the 72-67 decision.
After a midweek bye, LSU returns to action on Sunday to face SEC frontrunner and No. 6 South Carolina. Tip time for the program’s Play4Kay game is 2:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN2 along with www.WatchESPN.com.
The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. Live audio also will be available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, has 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.