BATON ROUGE – The LSU women’s basketball team rode Danielle Ballard and Raigyne Moncrief as the duo put together a 14-5 finishing kick over the last four minutes which enabled the Lady Tigers to capture a 74-65 victory over Missouri on Monday evening at the Maravich Center. 

LSU (12-9, 6-3 SEC) went ahead by as many as 20 points during the opening minutes of the second half, but Missouri (12-10, 2-7 SEC) amassed a 27-6 flurry to briefly take a one-point lead.

“I saw a team that did not waver from the fact that it was the ball game again,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I saw a team that had enough in them to push the lead to 20 in that first segment of the second half. Although we gave that lead away, I never once felt that the team was not prepared to go down the stretch and win the basketball game. They have shown that they can put together great defensive efforts in a matter of minutes, and they did just that. Again, a lot of credit goes to Missouri for fighting back and getting back into the game. We are going to take this game and this situation and move forward from it, but we also are going to have to remember it and recoil it.”

Ballard and Moncrief combined for 23 of LSU’s 32 points in the second half. The win was LSU’s fourth straight over Missouri as SEC opponents and vaulted the Lady Tigers back into a fourth-place tie in the SEC standings.

Moncrief went off for a season’s best 21 points, her third-highest scoring output in a LSU uniform. She registered 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting during the second half and is the fourth LSU player to surpass the 20-point barrier this season.

Ballard worked her way to 16 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. She secured her second double-double on the season and was a crisp 8-of-11 at the free throw line. Ballard has dished out 19 assists over her last four appearances.

Rina Hill turned in 10 points, three assists and three rebounds over her 25 minutes of action. She reached double figures for the third time on the season.

LSU’s post play was sparked by Sheila Boykin and Anne Pedersen who chipped in nine points apiece. The Boykin-Pedersen combo was an efficient 7-of-14 from the floor and handed out five assists. Akilah Bethel picked up six rebounds and two steals, while Stephanie Amichia added two points coupled with four rebounds. 

As a team, LSU came away with a 26-for-63 shooting effort which included a 4-for-11 mark from beyond the three-point arc. The Lady Tigers were 18-of-30 at the charity stripe but nailed 12-of-17 at the line during the second half. LSU also ripped off 20 of the game’s 26 points off turnovers. 

Missouri was led by Jordan Frericks who racked up a game-leading 23 points and 12 rebounds. Juanita Robinson and Michelle Hudyn notched 13 and 10 points, respectively, off of Mizzou’s bench. Morgan Eye, the SEC’s leading three-point threat entering the game, was held without a basket as she misfired on all three of her field goal attempts.

With the score knotted at 60-60 at the 4:20 mark of the second half, Ballard used a crossover dribble to get into the lane and hit an off-balanced layup. She was fouled and converted on the free throw for the traditional three-point play.

Next, it was Moncrief’s turn to burry back-to-back midrange jumpers deep into the shot clock to give LSU a 67-62 advantage with 1:42 remaining.

Down the stretch, LSU’s defense forced Missouri into an empty possession six of nine times highlighted by a trio of turnovers and salted the nine-point victory away with a 7-for-8 effort at the free throw line during the last 67 seconds. 

“We talked about owing your power, and (Danielle) Ballard owned hers,” Caldwell said. “Late game, she’s one of those players that has proven that she can put the team on her back. I thought she did a nice job too of trying to find her teammates and allowing them to get some looks. She is able to do that off of her dribble penetration to a kick, which is something that she has added to her game. She is a player that is hard to guard. We ran some hand off and some movement to clear out the lane to give her an opportunity to score. Raigyne Moncrief did a nice job as well being a dribble drive type of player for us for the pull up jumpers. So, you’ve got two different players. One is aggressive to the basket, and one really was knocking down that midrange jump shot. Ballard’s ability also to rebound was a key for us especially when they were missing some of those shots during those late game segments. She was able to come up with some key defensive rebounds for us.” 

LSU came out clicking on all cylinders on the offense end and knocked down 10 of its first 12 shot attempts to build a 22-18 lead with 12:47 to go in the opening half. During the stretch, six players provided baskets sparked by Hill’s seven points. 

LSU would stretch its advantage to 42-31 going into the locker room as Moncrief canned her first career three-point field goal as the buzzer sounded.

Out of the locker room, LSU kept the momentum and fired off 10 of the first 11 points of the second half. Moncrief led the charge with three buckets, and LSU took a 52-32 lead at the 15:50 mark.

Missouri would turn the tables with 27 of the next 33 points. It was Hudyn, Frericks and Robinson who did most of the damage and accounted for 23 of the 27 points. A Maddie Stock trey gave Mizzou a short-lived 59-58 lead with 4:59 left.

Up next, LSU will face a quick turnaround and travel to Auburn on Thursday evening. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. from Auburn Arena. The game will be televised by FSN along with www.WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app for those outside of the FSN viewing footprint.

The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on its flagship station Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.  Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tiger, will call the action. The broadcast also will be available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.

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, @lsuwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter, @LSUwbkb and @LSUNikkiCaldwell on Instagram.

LSU Women’s Basketball Postgame Quotes
Missouri vs. LSU – February 2, 2015

HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL

Opening statement …
“Missouri showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight. They did not give up. They played until the very end, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for how hard they fought. I am equally pleased with our ability to finish out the game. I thought we did a nice job of getting the lead. Usually in the second half and during the beginning of the second half, it’s typically the second half that we struggle with. I’ve seen growth a lot over the course of the last month in finding a way to win against quality opponents like Missouri. I am very proud of this group.”

On being mindful of Missouri’s comeback in the second quarter…
“We are very mindful of it because we have been in Missouri’s situation. We’ve been down and really had to claw our way back. We know the energy it takes just to get back in the game. I told our team we had another run in us. The last segment and four minutes of the game, we needed to clamp down defensively and not miss coverage. We needed to control the controllables. I told them to back up and try not to make anything look like a foul. The stoppage of the clock was to Missouri’s advantage with all of the fouls being called. We needed to let the flow of the game keep going and not get choppy because we are not good when we have a choppy game. We talked about getting our running game going and getting deflections and turnovers. I thought we were able to get we capitalized on the turnovers. I thought this was one of our better efforts on capitalizing on turnovers.”

On learning something new after tonight’s victory over Missouri…
“I saw a team that did not waver from the fact that it was the ball game again. I saw a team that had enough in them to push the lead to 20 in that first segment of the second half. That has been a segment that we have struggled to win. We did just that with a 10-6 run. Although we gave that lead away, I never once felt that the team was not prepared to go down the stretch and win the basketball game. They have shown that they can put together great defensive efforts in a matter of minutes, and they did just that. Again, a lot of credit goes to Missouri for fighting back and getting back into the game. We are going to take this game and this situation and move forward from it, but we also are going to have to remember it and recoil it.”

On Rina Hill‘s defense …
“Rina (Hill) has always been one of our best defensive players. She’s tough, and she doesn’t allow a lot of penetration on her. She takes a lot of pride in guarding the basketball. Whether it is man or zone, it doesn’t matter. Obviously, her ability to stand in there and take charges. She turned down two shots in the game so I subbed her out. I said, ‘You either shoot or sit’ and so she started shooting … For Rina turning down wide-open shots, that’s bad shot selection for us. So just really getting her to understand – yes, run the offence and get us in the offence. But when it comes around to you, understanding you are part of the offense. That’s what is registering with her now, and that’s why she had the offensive production that she did tonight. We just really focused in on her stepping in and being aggressive because her midrange jumper is like a layup. We tell her that all the time. Her midrange jumper is like our posts getting a layup. She doesn’t always make them, but it’s just the same type or high percentage shot for us.”

On Danielle Ballard especially late in the game …
“We talked about owing your power, and (Danielle) Ballard owned hers. Late game, she’s one of those players that has proven that she can put the team on her back. I thought she did a nice job too of trying to find her teammates and allowing them to get some looks. She is able to do that off of her dribble penetration to a kick, which is something that she has added to her game. She is a player that is hard to guard. We ran some hand off and some movement to clear out the lane to give her an opportunity to score. Raigyne Moncrief did a nice job as well being a dribble drive type of player for us for the pull up jumpers. So, you’ve got two different players. One is aggressive to the basket, and one really was knocking down that midrange jump shot. Ballard’s ability also to rebound was a key for us especially when they were missing some of those shots during those late game segments. She was able to come up with some key defensive rebounds for us.” 

On taking lessons from this game and traveling to Auburn…
“Missouri has only won two games in conference game, but look how tough they played. The SEC is no joke especially when you are on the road. It only takes one game for a team to get started and feel that confidence. Just like you handle failure, we have to be able to handle this success we are having right now. We have to stay aggressive and true to the game plan. Obviously, Auburn is very defensive team. We have to make some baskets first and foremost. I think our defense sets the tone for us, so you are going to see a great battle Thursday night.”

 

LSU GUARD RAIGYNE MONCRIEF

On if her 15-foot jumper has always been in her arsenal…
“I’ve always had it. I just had to bring it back out. I think when (Assistant) Coach (Tasha) Butts told us that we needed to get some shots up before this game, I think that kind of helped me out a lot too. We were in the gym last night getting shots up so I think that benefitted me tonight.”

On losing a big lead and then gaining it back…
“It wasn’t going well defensively. We weren’t talking, and our intensity went down. We brought it up. Then, Danielle Ballard made some plays for us at the end and got our intensity back up. That kind of transferred into our defense. We started making things happen defensively. Then, I came along and then Rina (Hill) at the point guard just calmed us down. Everybody was just ready to play. It started on the other end defensively. There were ups and downs, but I’m glad we brought our intensity back out.”

On Coach Caldwell’s message to the team after Missouri took the lead …
“She was just telling us that we still have this. We just have to pick up our intensity defensively and stop fouling. It was a really good message to let us know that we still have this, but you just have to make some stops and get something going offensively.”

LSU GUARD RINA HILL

On if there’s a silver lining of blowing a big lead and finding a way to win…
“I think it will help in the future a lot. Especially in the preseason we were losing those close games a lot, so I think the fact that we pulled this win out I think it’s a good thing for us.”

On the emphasis of defending the three-point shot for Missouri…
“We really wanted to take away the three ball, and I think we did a really good job of staying committed to that game plan. We gave up a couple of easy two’s, but I think we still did a pretty decent job of guarding the three ball.”

MISSOURI HEAD COACH ROBIN PINGETON

Opening statement…
“Well, I was really proud of our girls’ effort and our resiliency. Hats off to LSU and to Nikki (Caldwell), she’s got a great team. We didn’t have an answer for Raigyne Moncrief or Danielle Ballard. Those two kids are really special players, and they’ve got an incredible supporting cast surrounding them. In the first half, they came out on fire. It was a little bit of everybody and a very balanced attack. I thought we did a good job taking care of the ball in the first half and during the second half. I thought LSU turned up the pressure. We got a little loose with it on a couple possessions, but I was proud of our girls’ effort. I thought we really competed hard.”

On being able to comeback from down 20 points and take the lead…
“This league is so tough. Winning is hard, and winning on the road is really hard. Most of the fans out there were LSU fans, so they really had to dig in and kind of look themselves in the mirror and challenge themselves. I told them in the timeout, in the first media timeout after halftime, I told them, ‘We need to play harder than what we’re playing. No regrets, we got to let it all hang out and whatever happens from there happens from there. We’ve got more in our tanks.’ I thought our girls really competed and obviously exerted a lot of energy and emotion to get back into it. Then, there was a crucial time where they called it a dead ball foul. I thought we were going back to the free throw line, but they didn’t think we had control of it which from my angle I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t argue the call because I didn’t have a good look at it. From that point forward, we just kind of just kept losing ground with LSU.”

On her team’s game plan and LSU’s wave of guards…
“Give them credit, they’ve got a very talented team. I think Danielle Ballard has been obviously the “X-factor,” but I don’t think any of us that know Danielle Ballard feels like it’s an “X-factor.” She’s a great addition to have back on the team. She’s just another terrific perimeter kid. I really felt like we could get some good looks inside. I thought that LSU’s game plan going in was limit our 3’s. That was going to allow Jordan (Frericks) to get some one-on-one looks inside. On the other end, we had a hard time keeping those kids in front of us defensively. We talked about really controlling the paint and wanting to guard inside out, but with what Raigyne (Moncrief) and Danielle (Ballard) do, they are tough from 15-feet out. That 1-2 dribble pull up jump shot, that’s a hard thing to guard. I just thought both of them, and their whole team played well tonight.”

On moral victories…
“It’s been a challenging year for us in regards to some of the injuries we’ve had and some of the curveballs we’ve been thrown. But I’m really proud of our kids, and I have been all year. We’ve got a great group. They’re very resilient, just the culture within our program is really unique and special. We keep battling. It’s hard right now because it’s not showing up on the scoreboard. There’s no quit in this team, and I’m really proud of them for that. So, moral victories I don’t know about that, but I am proud of our girls. We have a great group of young ladies to work with everyday.”