BATON ROUGE, La. – In the final home game of the regular season, the LSU women’s basketball team shot 40 percent from the field and over 60 percent from the line, but in the end the 11 three-pointers by the visiting Florida Gators proved to be too much as the Lady Tigers fell 82-56 Thursday evening inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU (9-19, 3-12 SEC) started the game on fire and kept up with the Gators (21-7, 9-6 SEC) after shooting 75 percent after the first ten minutes and went into the half down just eight points. However, Florida went on to score 26 points in the third and 16 in the fourth, while holding the Tigers to just five points in the final frame to pull away late.
The 11 three-pointers was the most that LSU had allowed its opponent this season, with Florida making six in the first half alone. In the last game between the two squads last month, Florida was just 4-of-10 from behind the arc.
The Gators forced LSU into a season-high 30 turnovers and scored 35 points off the miscues, the first time they’ve given up that many since playing UConn. The Lady Tigers scored just 10 points off 18 UF turnovers
Alexis Hyder led the Lady Tigers with her ninth double-double of the season, turning in 14 points and 12 rebounds. She has scored in double figures in 18 games this season and has hauled in 10-plus rebounds in 10 games. Rina Hill and Akilah Bethel also scored in double figures, chipping in 11 points and 10 points, respectively.
Cassie Peoples led Florida with 22 points. She was 8-of-11 from the field, including a 4-of-6 mark from three-point range. Ronni Williams scored 13 points, and Eleanna Christinaki added 12 points for the Gators. Williams led her squad with five rebounds.
Florida used the long ball in the first half to take a 40-32 lead heading into the locker room at the break. The Gators were 6-of-15 from behind the arc and LSU did not attempt a three in the first half. The Lady Tigers shot 54 percent (13-24) from the field, while UF converted 41 percent (15-37) of their shots.
The team struggled with taking care of the ball, registering 12 turnovers, which Florida turned into 15 points. On the flip side, LSU scored just two points off six Florida miscues. Both teams grabbed 19 boards in the first half.
Hitting the floor for the final 20 minutes, the team did so without sophomore guard Jenna Deemer, who went to the locker room and did not return to the court due to illness. Deemer previously missed nine games with an illness, returning to the floor on Feb. 18 at Texas A&M.
LSU was able to match its quarter-high output from the first with 19 points in the third, cutting the Gator lead at one point to single digits, going 6-for-13 from the floor and making 7-of-12 from the line. However, Peoples carried the bulk of the offense for UF, scoring nine of her 22 points in the period alone to aid in the highest output for either team on the night to go up 66-51 heading to the final period.
The Florida defense stymied the LSU offense from that point on, holding the Lady Tigers to just one made basket and only three free throws to account for the group’s five points in the fourth, as the Gators did not relent hitting seven shots and getting two more three’s to hold the advantage and cruise to the victory.
The Lady Tigers will close out the regular season on Sunday at No. 3/2 South Carolina. The game will be carried by ESPNU and will tip off at 1 p.m. CT.
The SEC Tournament, which will be played at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., will begin on Wednesday, March 2 and runs through the championship game on Sunday, March 6. Tickets are available through the Ticketmaster website or by phone at 800-745-3000.
For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.LSUsports.net.womensbasketball. Fans also can follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/LSUwbkb, @LSUwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter, @LSUwbkb and @LSUNikkiCaldwell on Instagram.
LSU Head Coach Nikki Fargas
Opening Statement …
“When you have a chance to play on your home court, on Senior Night, there are a lot of emotions involved. We obviously wanted our three seniors to go out on a better note at home but a lot of credit to Florida for executing their game plan. They did a nice job, (Cassie) Peoples in particular, of really putting the team on her back and coming away with a win.”
On the difference between this game and the last game at Florida…
“I thought defensively we didn’t have the same intensity that we did in Gainesville. Defensively we really held our hat on eliminating those easy baskets for them in transition and we did a much better job of keeping them off of their offensive glass. In the last game, we controlled the tempo of the game. In Gainesville, we did a nice job of controlling the boards and we were able to outrebound them. I wanted to say we had 18 or 19 offensive rebounds ourselves in that game, and that gave us those extra possessions and we were able to take our time in getting the look that we wanted. Tonight’s game our defensive scheme really broke down and we allowed them to fuel their transition game once we started turning the ball over. They are a very good team when they are turning it over but their pressure was the same pressure that we saw a month ago. We just didn’t handle it as well but I don’t think our defensive intensity was at the same level that it was at when we played them the first time.”
On Jenna Deemer only playing nine minutes …
“She wasn’t feeling well and had to go to the locker room so we were without her service tonight.”
On going into the next game …
“I’m the coach that believes in defensive board play. I think that tells a lot about who you are as a competitor. We have a big opponent on Sunday (South Carolina) and obviously one of the best teams in the country, with some of the best players in the country. It’s going to take us working as a unit. All five people have to be on the same page to even have a chance at even disrupting some of the play action that South Carolina likes to run. We are going to have to be a team that is committed for forty minutes. We are going to have to be playing really intense and with a high level of basketball IQ. We’ve got to play the game smart. We have to be intelligent with our actions, and I think that’s the game plan for us. We have to go back to being the team that loves to play on the defensive end.”
LSU Junior Forward Alexis Hyder
“Tonight Florida played their best basketball and we didn't come close to meeting our potential. The turnovers affected us mentally and we couldn't break through. Our chemistry wasn't there like it usually is. Tonight we were all over the place. They press well, so give credit to them, but a lot of the turnovers were self-inflicted.”
On the difference between tonight’s game and their previous game at Florida…
“At Florida we controlled the tempo. Tonight we were back and forth and that's what they want. We didn't play our game, and we didn't defend well in transition or in the half court. We gave them the game as far as playing how they wanted to play.”
LSU Junior Guard Rina Hill
On how LSU lost…
“I think it was definitely us. We weren’t focused as a team and I felt there was a disconnect. I personally didn't do a good job of taking care of the ball, so I take responsibility for that.”
On what the disconnect was…
“We didn't bring the same defensive intensity to the game like we did Sunday.”
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
Opening Statement …
“Our players were really ready to play. They played with a great deal of urgency from the beginning. We knew that LSU was going to try to make it all the way down to the last round. So, we knew we had to try to capitalize whenever we could, and really try to set the tone at the beginning of the game. Those first five went out there and did a good job of that.”
On contrast between Florida and LSU’s three-pointers…
“It’s just great to see, not only our kids shoot so well, but shoot so well on the road. They’ve been putting in so much extra time in the gym—getting shots up and outside of practice, going above and beyond. You know, if you continue to do those things, then at some point it’s going to pay off. So, it was really important for us tonight. That was the separating factor for us.”
On Cassie Peoples’ 22 points …
“It was really important for her to play that well for her team, and obviously Carlie [Needles] went out, and so that left a hole in what we normally have in terms of our normal rotations in minutes. And Cassie did a great job, as you would expect a senior to do, in stepping up and filling that hole and hitting big shots.”
On Carlie Needles’ status …
“I’m not sure yet. All I can tell you about Carlie at this point is that she’s tough as nails. Whatever it is, I’m sure she’ll bounce back from it quickly because there’s not anybody that’s tougher in this league than she is.”
On defense …
“One of the things we knew we had to do was to try to increase our number of possessions, but do that by playing great defense. I thought our team did a really good job of adjusting because we thought we were going to be able to do a little bit of a better job in man. And as it turns out, it was a combination of man and zone that led us into turning them over 30 times. Thirty turnovers, we capitalized on those. Thirty-five points gave us more possessions. And I thought we were really aggressive. We got the ball back and did a good job of generating the tempo that makes us a really good team.”
On final regular season game against Auburn…
“We want to honor our seniors. We want to send those guys out the way they deserve to be sent out on that home floor. But most importantly, we want to go compete and put ourselves in a position to have the highest seed possible at the SEC Tournament, which is going to be a heck of a lot of fun this year.”