BATON ROUGE - Junior forward Theresa Plaisance scored a game-high 26 points and swished a go-ahead three with a minute to play as the LSU women's basketball team extended its home court winning streak to eight straight with a thrilling 54-51 come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt on Sunday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Lady Tigers (12-7) improved back to .500 in Southeastern Conference play with a 3-3 mark and moved to 10-1 at home on the year. LSU has now won seven consecutive SEC regular season games at home dating back to last season.
Vanderbilt (13-5, 3-2) dropped its fifth consecutive game to LSU in Baton Rouge as the series continued to go the home team's way for the ninth straight meeting.
After being held to five points in the second half, Plaisance erupted for 21 points in the final stanza, including eight straight points during a 13-0 run. She provided the game's biggest shot burying a three from the right corner as LSU turned a one-point deficit into a 52-50 lead with 1:09 to play. She added seven rebounds and two blocks, while setting a career high with 11 made field goals.
"Theresa Plaisance slowed down," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "She was not rushing. She was taking her time and really trying to score the basketball. We also had her taking shots on the perimeter. They started feeling good about themselves because they started getting the defensive stops that we needed. That allowed us to get our transition game going. In doing so, that took a lot of stress off of our half-court offense."
Plaisance and the Lady Tigers came alive in the second half after a lackluster offensive performance by both teams in the first 20 minutes. LSU shot below 30 percent in the first half and it allowed Vanderbilt to go on a 15-2 run and take a 24-16 advantage into the locker room.
The Lady Tigers trailed by as many as 10 points with 16:10 to play. Plaisance then ignited the comeback with unstoppable play on the inside. She delivered with eight straight points in a span of three minutes as LSU was extremely disruptive on the defense end, holding one of the nation's top field goal percentage teams scoreless for four minutes.
With the Lady Tigers trailing 34-31, Plaisance drained a three from the top of the key that knotted the game with 11:45 on the clock. LSU fell behind again, 50-47 on an Elan Brown jumper at the 2:47 mark.
Webb then knocked down two free throws, and Lutley swatted a Kady Schrann jumper that gave the Lady Tigers a chance to take the lead again. That's when Plaisance stepped up and hit her second three of the game. Lutley made two free throws in the final 10 seconds, and Vanderbilt's desperation three attempt clanged off the backboard as time expired.
"You usually see a struggle on the defensive end, but today I think we did a really great job defensively," said Plaisance. "Coach Nikki Caldwell had a game plan because coming up against Vanderbilt, you know you are going to have a tough game with their strong guards and excellent three-point shooting game. We just had to buckle down on defense."
Tiffany Clarke led Vanderbilt with 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Vanderbilt shot just 5-of-19 from three-point land.
Adrienne Webb added 10 points for LSU, while Danielle Ballard had nine points, nine rebounds and four steals. Lutley finished with nine points and four steals.
Both teams finished below 38 percent shooting from the floor, but the Lady Tigers grabbed 15 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second-chance points.
LSU returns to action next Sunday at 2 p.m. CT as the Lady Tigers take on No. 5 Kentucky in Lexington. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Net and ESPN3.com.
LSU vs. VANDERBILT
January 20, 2013
HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
On Leadership Within the Team ...
"When you are developing a leader, individuals have to become a little more comfortable in uncomfortable situations. We thought about action figures and different people that represented each of our players. We called Jeanne Kenney, "Professor X." Bianca is "Zeus;" we want her to do everything. Derreyal Youngblood is "The Hulk." Kuaneshia Baker is "Storm" because we want her to make chaos. Danielle Ballard is "Flash" for her flashiness as far as being crafty in her play. Shanece McKinney is NeNe Leakes from "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Sheila Boykin is "Apollo." Anne Pedersen is "Xena." Lastly, Adrienne Webb is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." We gave each player a name that represented something and that has taken its own life within our team."
On LSU's Change in Attitude in the Second Half ...
"With Adrienne Webb, we have her on the floor. We ran some quick-hit action and isolation. We talked about her playing off of the bounce a little bit more. Theresa Plaisance slowed down. She was not rushing. She was taking her time and really trying to score the basketball. We also had her taking shots on the perimeter. They started feeling good about themselves because they started getting the defensive stops that we needed. That allowed us to get our transition game going. In doing so, that took a lot of stress off of our half-court offense."
FORWARD THERESA PLAISANCE
On the Advantage of Playing on Their Home Court...
"In South Carolina, we had a moment that we just decided to buckle down. Having this home court advantage is so great because we have such an amazing crowd to keep us in the game. In those momentum swings, we have that extra effort coming from the crowd. In giving us that extra energy, we are able to push through to the end. We just needed to come out on top. We do all the hard work; we just tend to fall short at the end. Vanderbilt is a great ball club. They have great guards and a great inside game in Tiffany Clarke."
On LSU's Defense ...
"You usually see a struggle on the defensive end, but today I think we did a really great job defensively. Coach Nikki Caldwell had a game plan because coming up against Vanderbilt, you know you are going to have a tough game with their strong guards and excellent 3-point shooting game. We just had to buckle down on defense."
GUARD BIANCA LUTLEY
On Making Shots...
"We have a rule that we have to make a certain amount of shots before each game. I have been working on my free throws, and today they were falling for me. I shoot 20 free throws before each game and that helped today."
On the second half...
"Coach Nikki Caldwell wanted to switch things up a lot in this game. That really helped our defense out. With our guards, Danielle Ballard and Adrienne Webb, they really had Vanderbilt shaken up."
Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb
On what happened after Vanderbilt had a 10-point lead...
"I really don't have any answers, but what's disappointing and glaring on the stat sheet is that we only took nine free throws and LSU taking 21. We have to be aggressive, and we have to go to the basket more. The second stat that is very disappointing would be 20 turnovers against the zone. We're not penetrating. We're not attacking, and your turning the ball over. That's disappointing. Obviously, LSU confused us. We looked confused all night. I'm not sure where the confusion came from, but we were hesitant and confused. They did a great job of pressuring the offensive boards. It's debilitating to get a stop, but then you can't get the offensive rebound. When they needed to get the ball back they either smacked it out of our hands or got the rebound. They became more of the aggressor when they got down. They played more freely and we played tighter. "
On Vanderbilt's perspective of Theresa Plaisance's performance in the second half...
"I wasn't just focused on Plaisance, but obviously they were focused on getting her the basketball and going to her more and that made her more effective. She got 20 shots up and then the next was 10. We obviously didn't do a good enough job of limiting her touches, which was one of our keys limiting her touches and not letting her get the ball as much."