Women's Hoops Continues Busy Week at Auburn

by Matt Dunaway
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Women's Hoops Continues Busy Week at Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. – The LSU women’s basketball team will head into the heart of a three-game stretch over a seven-day span when the Lady Tigers travel to face Auburn on Thursday evening.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. from Auburn Arena. The game will be televised by FSN New Orleans along with http://www.watchespn.com/ and the Watch ESPN app for viewers outside of the FSN regional footprint. The game will be blacked out on Watch ESPN for viewers in the FSN regional footprint. Bob Rathbun and Debbie Antonelli will serve as the announcing team.

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.

LSU (12-9, 6-3 SEC) has won four of its last five games which has enabled the Lady Tigers to move into a fourth place tie with Kentucky in the SEC standings. Last time out, LSU fended off a comeback effort from Missouri and scored 14 of the last 19 points over the final four minutes to claim a 74-65 victory.

Auburn (9-13, 0-9 SEC) has dropped six of its nine conference games to Top 25 opponents. The Tigers are being led by Tra’Cee Tanner’s 12.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. She has connected on 57.4 percent of her field goal attempts. Tanner posted her fourth double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds, during Auburn’s 78-45 setback at No. 12 Texas A&M. Brandy Montgomery has chipped in 10.7 points per game and eclipsed the 20-point barrier three times, most recently with a 21-point performance against Mississippi State on January 26.

LSU has strung together five straight wins and posted a 16-5 record against Auburn dating back to the 1998-99 season. Last season, LSU ripped off a 19-4 run over an eight minute stretch of the second half to emerge with a 71-60 victory. Theresa Plaisance and Raigyne Moncrief led the way with 19 points and 15 points, respectively. Auburn received a game-leading 22 points courtesy of Montgomery.

“You’ve got to take the mentality of a warrior whether you are the warrior that is expected to win or the warrior that they don’t expect to win. You still can maintain that type of attitude. For us, Auburn is a team that defensively can disrupt your timing based on their 1-2-2 full court pressure. If we are not careful or if we are lackadaisical with the basketball and we are not confident, that defense can turn us over. It will allow them to get points and easy baskets out of their pressure. By easy baskets, we’re talking layups. Again on the road, you can have a team playing with a lot of energy and playing with a lot of enthusiasm.”

Danielle Ballard has paced LSU with 14.1 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 steals per game. All three marks are ranked inside the SEC’s Top 6 during conference play most notably the 3.0 steals which hold the top spot on the SEC leaderboard. Ballard registered her second double-double of the season, 16 points and a season’s best 11 rebounds, against Missouri. She has distributed 19 assists over her last four outings.

Moncrief has amassed 11.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. She has reached double figures in four of her last five outings fueled by a SEC career-high 21 points versus Missouri. Over her last five outings, Moncrief has boosted her scoring average to 14.8 points per game. She was the fourth LSU player to rack up at least 20 points in a game this season.

DaShawn Harden has posted 11.0 points and 2.3 steals per game. Her 2.3 steals are second in the SEC rankings. Harden has turned in double figures in 10 of her last 16 appearances. She poured in a career-high 23 points during LSU’s SEC opening win at Florida.

Rina Hill has held the starting point guard duties during LSU’s last 10 games. She has nearly doubled her season scoring average and upped her mark to 8.0 points per game on 10-of-19 from the floor over her last three games. Last time out, Hill notched 10 points and three assists during LSU’s victory over Missouri.

Sheila Boykin has headed up LSU’s interior play with 7.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. She has buried 58.5 percent of her shots over her last 12 outings. Anne Pedersen has started alongside Boykin during LSU’s last seven games. She provided nine points, her second-highest SEC scoring output on the season, against Missouri.

Akilah Bethel has chipped in 6.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game coming off the bench in LSU’s last eight games. She has secured at least five points in 13 of 21 games and added at least five rebounds in 12 of 21 games. Stephanie Amichia has tallied 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. She equaled a career-high with two blocks versus Ole Miss. 

Jenna Deemer has contributed 6.6 points per game and knocked down 19 of her 35 field goals from three-point territory over her last 12 outings. LSU has won six of seven games when Deemer has picked up double figures.

Jasmine Rhodes has garnered 2.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per game with 20 of her 21 appearances coming off the bench. Ann Jones and Alliyah Fareo have registered 2.1 points and 0.8 points per game, they did not play against Missouri.

“You can’t be a passive basketball team,” Caldwell said. “Against Auburn’s pressure, we are talking about having to be aggressive and being aggressively smart. We’ve been focusing on ball fakes, quick ball reversals and misdirection. We’ve been focusing on not just one person feeling the responsibility of breaking their press. Yesterday and today, we will continue to work our press offense. Also, today we will get back to our strength which is our defensive intensity and our ability to disrupt you in the full court. We are going to hopefully utilize our defense to generate some of that offense.”

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 Media Session
February 4, 2015

HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL

Opening statement …
“We’re excited about where we are at during the halfway point of the SEC season. We’ve played a tough first half with the opponents being South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, keep going and keep going. We are in a position right now to really make a statement not only for us inside of the conference but also from a NCAA Tournament standpoint. We want to make sure that we’re controlling the controlables and not underestimating anyone during this point of the season.”

On getting ready for Thursday’s game at Auburn …
“You know as someone who has been in this league as a player and as a coach for 14 years – six years as an assistant coach at Tennessee, four years as a player and this is my fourth year at LSU, you can’t celebrate. You can’t be happy. You have to be humble. You have to be in tune with how competitive this conference is. Auburn is a team that has had their own challenges but as we all know, it only takes one game. We want to make sure that we are not celebrating too early because there is so much more basketball to be played.”

On what mindset the team has to have heading into Thursday’s game…
“You’ve got to take the mentality of a warrior whether you are the warrior that is expected to win or the warrior that they don’t expect to win. You still can maintain that type of attitude. For us, Auburn is a team that defensively can disrupt your timing based on their 1-2-2 full court pressure. If we are not careful or if we are lackadaisical with the basketball and we are not confident, that defense can turn us over. It will allow them to get points and easy baskets out of their pressure. By easy baskets, we’re talking layups. Again on the road, you can have a team playing with a lot of energy and playing with a lot of enthusiasm because you don’t want to fuel that. We did the exact opposite at Mississippi State. We were the ones that were fueling ourselves, and we were able to come out with the victory. We know what it is like to be on that other side. We are going to make sure that we stay hungry and aggressive in our play.

On the team’s offensive focus going into the Auburn game…
“You can’t be a passive basketball team. Against their pressure, we are talking about having to be aggressive and being aggressively smart. We’ve been focusing on ball fakes, quick ball reversals and misdirection. We’ve been focusing on not just one person feeling the responsibility of breaking their press. Yesterday and today, we will continue to work our press offense. Also, today we will get back to our strength which is our defensive intensity and our ability to disrupt you in the full court. We are going to hopefully utilize our defense to generate some of that offense.”

On what Danielle Ballard‘s return has meant to the team…
“The team is doing well with Ballard. She is such a tremendous player. You have your All American back which lends to giving our underclassman some confidence. (Raigyne) Moncrief, this is her second year in our program. Rina Hill, it’s her second year in our program. DaShawn Harden, it’s also her second year in our program. So, she (Ballard) calms all of our team in that regard where they don’t feel as much pressure. They are now seeing a teammate that not only offensively can get you looks, but she is one of our better defenders and rebounders. She’s helped us in so many areas of the game. I think the last two or three games, she’s been our assist leader. That’s something that you can say wow. There are nights where she has given us, or scored like 50 points in two games and then there is games when she only scores likes ten or eleven but she has five assists and seven steals. She’s becoming a very mature player for our team and understanding when she needs to take over. But more importantly, she understands that she has to get her teammates going. So when you’ve got Rina Hill, Anne Pederson and Sheila Boykin knocking down shots, it takes a lot of the load off of her too.”