Lady Tigers Earn 64-52 Victory Over Georgia
BATON ROUGE – The LSU women’s basketball team used double-doubles courtesy of Raigyne Moncrief and Danielle Ballard to open its stretch run with a 64-52 victory over Georgia in the program’s annual “Play4Kay” game for breast cancer awareness on Thursday evening at the Maravich Center.
With the victory, the Lady Tigers (15-10, 9-4 SEC) moved into a three-way tie for third place with Mississippi State and Kentucky in the SEC standings. LSU also made it six straight regular season wins for the home team in the series versus Georgia (17-9, 5-8 SEC) and 14 of the last 16 regular season meetings since 2001-02.
“This time of year everybody is really trying to position their teams for seeding in the SEC tournament and obviously for NCAA play,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “Tonight was one more step that we took in the right direction, and we did so against a very good basketball team in Georgia. This team is growing. Each game, we are learning different things about each other. Tonight, we had quality play from several different people. I thought our defensive effort was very good at times. We were able to get the stops when we needed them. But more importantly down the stretch, we were able to make the baskets and make the big plays that we needed to win. That’s a team that is getting ready for postseason play.”
For Moncrief, she poured in 13 of her game-leading 16 points during the second half. The Florida native hauled in 10 rebounds to go along with three assists and two blocks. It was her second double-double over her last three outings.
Ballard turned 13 points and matched her season’s best with 12 rebounds to secure her fourth double-double on the season. She racked up 10 of her 12 boards on the defensive end and added three assists coupled with a pair of steals.
LSU’s bench play was sparked by DaShawn Harden‘s eight points and two assists. Akilah Bethel chipped in seven points and three rebounds, while Jenna Deemer notched five points during her five minutes of action. The Lady Tigers scored 20 of the game’s 29 points off the bench.
They (our bench players) came back, and they practiced harder and practiced smarter,” Caldwell said. “When we went to the bench in the first half, DaShawn Harden came in and was laser-focused in making sure that she made an impact on both ends of the floor. (Akilah) Bethel did the same things for us as well. That’s why they got the minutes they were able to get, and we’ll continue to do so.”
The Lady Bulldogs were fueled by Tiaria Griffin’s 14 points, but the junior guard was forced into a 6-of-15 shooting clip. Mackenzie Engram also picked up 13 points and six rebounds for Georgia.
Trailing 6-2 with 18:16 remaining in the opening half, LSU found its rhythm and ripped off 17 of the next 20 points over the next 5:43 off the clock. The Lady Tigers knocked down seven of their eight shots and forced Georgia to misfire on 12 of its 13 shot attempts during the flurry.
Hill ignited the spurt with a midrange jumper on the right baseline, and Moncrief added a pair of free throws. Harden pushed LSU ahead after back-to-back triples 55 seconds apart to make it 12-6. Ballard connected on a jumper, and Bethel finished the run with layups sandwiched around a Moncrief free throw to extend the Lady Tigers advantage to 19-9 at the 11:31 mark.
Georgia fired back with eight straight points of its own to pull back to 19-17 with 7:38 to go. Deemer halted the UGA comeback effort with a three-pointer on the right wing, and LSU led for the rest of the stanza en route to a 34-28 halftime advantage.
Out of the locker room, the Lady Tigers regained their defensive intensity and held UGA without a field goal over a 9:34 span.
LSU reeled off 12 consecutive points to stretch a four-point lead to 48-32 with 10:01 left. Four players scored for the Lady Tigers headed by Ballard and Moncrief who registered four points apiece.
Georgia would get as close as 51-44 at the 5:31 mark before Ballard turned in a momentum-changing hustle play. She poked the ball away from Griffin at midcourt and went diving into the scorer’s table to save the ball. Her pass went perfectly to Harden who drove in for a transition layup.
LSU would ride the Ballard-Moncrief combo down the stretch. They combined to tally nine of LSU’s last 11 points over the final 4:30 to tuck away the 12-point win.
“We’re growing up. People are accepting their responsibility on the team, and everybody is doing their part to insure that we’re successful whether they score a basket or not,” Caldwell said. “We’re playing unselfish, and we’re allowing certain teammates to shine. I feel like we’ve got the team that has one of the biggest hearts in the country. I’ll take that any time over size. I feel like this group is working extremely hard, and we still got a lot of work to do. They’re coming back every day, we’re challenging them in different areas and they’re answering the call.”
Up next, LSU travels to face Arkansas on Sunday afternoon. Tip time is scheduled for 1 p.m. from Bud Walton Arena, and the game will be televised by ESPNU. The telecast also will be carried online courtesy of www.WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
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 Tigers, will call the action. The radio 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
Georgia vs. LSU – February 19, 2015
HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
Opening Statement …
“This time of year everybody is really trying to position their teams for seeding in the SEC tournament and obviously for NCAA play. Tonight was one more step that we took in the right direction, and we did so against a very good basketball team in Georgia. This team is growing. Each game, we are learning different things about each other. Tonight, we had quality play from several different people. I thought our defensive effort was very good at times. We were able to get the stops when we needed them. But more importantly down the stretch, we were able to make the baskets and make the big plays we needed to win. That’s a team that is getting ready for postseason play.”
On the team gaining more confidence compared to the beginning of the season…
“We’re growing up. People are accepting their responsibility on the team, and everybody is doing their part to insure that we’re successful whether they score a basket or not. We’re play unselfish. We’re allowing certain teammates to shine…but I feel like we’ve got the team that has one of the biggest hearts in the country. I’ll take that anytime over size. I feel like this group is working extremely hard, and we still got a lot of work to do. They’re coming back every day, and we’re challenging them in different areas. They’re answering the call.”
On what was the difference for the bench during tonight’s game…
“They’ve practiced a lot better. (DaShawn) Harden and (Akilah) Bethel in particular have practiced a whole lot better…In the South Carolina game, I made the decision to play our starters for as long as I possibly could because it is important whatever minutes that you get whether it’s one, two or 10 minutes. I thought we were taking that for granted. They came back, and they practiced harder and practiced smarter. When we went to the bench in the first half, DaShawn Harden came in and was laser-focused in making sure that she made an impact on both ends of the floor. (Akilah) Bethel did the same things as well. That’s why they got the minutes they were able to get, and we’ll continue to do so.”
On how she thinks the team came out to play for both halves tonight…
“We did a nice job with our defensive effort. There was a stretch there where we held Georgia for seven or eight minutes without a basket. We’ve got to be better though, I feel, with teams that play us zone. We started jump shooting the basketball for a period because we didn’t have the presence inside. (Sheila) Boykin usually gives us that, but we tried to spread them out. We were getting wide open looks, but we just didn’t knock down a lot of them in the first half. Our defensive effort is what I always go back and talk about. You hold a team in the 50s, to 52 points, which is what they usually hold their opponents to. We knew it was going to be a battle defensively, and we were able to win that battle.”
GUARD RAIGYNE MONCRIEF
On feeding off Danielle Ballard and hitting clutch shots…
“It just happened, I thank God for it. I made the shots. My teammates passed me the ball. I was in the corner. She saw me and passed me the ball. She sucked the defense into her, kicked it out to me and I made the shots. It’s really about my teammates. They passed me the ball. They were the playmakers for me.”
On being a NCAA Tournament contender…
“We always knew we were that team, but I guess we had to start winning games and going on runs for us to actually believe it. I know the coaching staff always believed we were that team. We just had to believe it ourselves. It all started in practice. We started off kind of rough, but we started winning. We knew that when SEC games came up, it was a whole other season. I think our mindset changed, and we started playing well in SEC games. When Danielle (Ballard) came back, that’s another thing and another weapon that we didn’t have at the beginning of the year. That’s when our team started to change and play more aggressively. We just started making things happen offensively and defensively, and we became a better team.”
GUARD DANIELLE BALLARD
On what she wanted to emphasize for tonight’s game…
“Rebound, I was telling myself get on the boards over and over again. Coach (Caldwell) was even telling me to get on the boards. Steals as well, I just kept repeating those two things in my head.”
On her steal late midway through the second half that led to a layup and put LSU back ahead by double digits …
“It was a hustle play. I thought it was going out of bounds. I saw a good opportunity to go for it, and I hit it back in bounds. DaShawn (Harden) hustled and got it. She ran it down the floor and scored a layup.”
GEORGIA HEAD COACH ANDY LANDERS
“I think trying to balance the perspective here, LSU and Georgia, the end of the story is they got us by doing what they do. Their jump shooters got their open looks and knocked them down. Sometimes, we were right there. They did a nice job of shooting in our face. We allowed them to float into open space enough times, and we allowed their drivers to drive enough times for it to be what it was: a 12-point game. I think LSU asserted themselves in the second half in ways that they normally do. Their two guards (Danielle Ballard and Raigyne Moncrief) got to the offensive boards, drove down the base line, drove down the gaps two or three times, floated in the 10-12 foot area and knocked down shots a few times. We didn’t want those things to happen. I thought we did a reasonably good job in the first half, but they asserted themselves in the second half.”
On Danielle Ballard and her impact on the game…
“She was the one that, in the last three minutes of the game, floated off to the right of the elbow. Tiaria (Griffin) was guarding her and was caught by a ball screen. She dishonored her ball screen and allowed her to float open, and there she is in the open space. I think she did that two or three times and hit those shots. Danielle (Ballard) and (Raigyne) Moncrief hit those shots when they needed to hit shots. I think the other thing that happened that was important is any time we get that shot clock down to three, two, or one, they hit shots. I think they did that three or four times. If you are LSU, that was a great night.
On motivating the team during a losing streak…
“Hopefully, we will get people healthy as we move forward. We’re assuming we are playing without our starting three-man, four-man and five-man. We’re depending on some young players and inexperienced players at this time. Young players and inexperienced players do some good things. They did that tonight, but they also do some things that are hurtful. The message going forward needs to be that we can’t repeat the same mistakes. We have to grow and eliminate some of things that happened tonight. The things that we covered in the scouting report shouldn’t happen. You have to pay attention. When you walk out there during warmup, you have to look across the floor and say, ‘That’s the one that does that, got it.’ But they are young kids and have to grow up. They have to learn from their mistakes and not make the same mistakes every game. They have to understand that you don’t have to make very many mistakes to cost your team the game. In this league, that will do it.”