SAN JUAN, P.R. – For the second game in two days it was Khayla Pointer’s scoring attack that led LSU to victory at the San Juan Shootout as the Tigers defeated Missouri St., 66-58, Saturday in the Coliseo Roberto Clemente.
“I am just so proud of the girls for how they competed today,” said Head Coach Kim Mulkey.
LSU (5-1) is heading back to Baton Rouge with a test on the horizon. The Tigers will host No. 13 Iowa St. Thursday on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. CT in the PMAC for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The Kim Mulkey Show is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 7 p.m. at TJ Ribs.
Saturday’s win over Missouri St. was a big one for LSU as the Lady Bears have made consecutive runs to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and have a senior-heavy roster. On Friday in Puerto Rico, Missouri State defeated a Virginia Tech team ranked No. 24 in the AP Poll.
“This game is a big win for our program heading in the right direction,” said Coach Mulkey. “That team is a darn good team.”
LSU went into the half with a nine-point lead, but Missouri St. went on a run early in the second half to tie the game.
“When they made their run, we came back, we made big shots, we ran the plays, we got the ball in the hands of the people that need to touch it,” said Coach Mulkey.
Pointer had 25 points during LSU’s winning effort, providing a spark in the third quarter to end the Missouri St. run. Autumn Newby played physical and was big on the boards, leading the Tigers with 10 rebounds. Although the stat sheet won’t show it, Ryann Payne stepped up big on defense, providing pressure and forcing turnovers. She led LSU with three assists too.
Jasmine Franklin, the nation’s leading rebounder, had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Sydney Wilson led the Lady Bears with 19 points.
“I thought we held her (Franklin) in check,” said Coach Mulkey. “She ended up getting a double-double, but I just thought the job Autumn Newby did on her was tremendous.”
After Faustine Aifuwa scored the first bucket of the game on a baseline inbounds play, Missouri St. rattled off eight straight and Coach Mulkey was forced to take an early timeout. The Tigers used defensive pressure to fuel 7-0 run later in the quarter to go up, 15-14. With the game tied at 18, LSU had the ball for the final possession of the quarter. Newby set a pick for Payne who missed the initial shot, but Jailin Cherry collected the offensive board and dished it back to Payne who hit a floater from the left wing as time expired to give LSU a 20-18 lead.
The Tigers took the momentum early in the second quarter with buckets from Cherry, Pointer and Hannah Gusters to build a 26-20 lead, forcing a Lady Bears timeout. LSU’s momentum was built with stifling defense, causing Missouri St. to miss its first five shots in the second quarter. By the time Cherry intercepted a pass and scored a fast break layup at the 3:19 mark of the quarter, LSU had built its largest lead, 33-22. The Tigers went into the half holding a nine-point lead, 25-26.
LSU was forced to take an early timeout in the third quarter when Missouri St. went on a 6-0 run to make it a 37-32 game. The Lady Bears continued their run out of the timeout and by the 4:55 mark in the quarter, they had climbed back to tie the game at 40. Pointer’s 10 points in the quarter allowed LSU to hold a 48-45 lead going into the final quarter.
LSU scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter as the Tigers looked to hold its lead. Pointer was huge for, scoring four of those seven during the run to build LSU’s lead back to 10 as Missouri St. called timeout. Out of the timeout the Lady Bears scored five unanswered, refusing to go away. With time expiring late in the shot clock, Morris pulled up from deep and banked in her first three in a LSU uniform to end the Lady Bears’ mini run. The Tigers were able to hit their free-throws when Missouri St. began to foul, holding on to win the game.