LSU Wins Sixth Straight; Defeats Texas Southern, 96-55
BATON ROUGE – The No. 24 LSU Women’s Basketball team (7-1) won its sixth straight contest Sunday afternoon with a 96-55 win over Texas Southern (0-6) in front of 6,072 in the PMAC.
LSU is set to be back in action in the PMAC on Wednesday when it hosts Alcorn State at 6 p.m. in a game scheduled to air on the SEC Network.
The Tigers shared the ball well with a season-high 26 assists. Ryann Payne had a career-high seven assists while recording no turnovers. LSU also shot a season-high 62.1-percent from the field. All 13 Tigers that played, scored the ball. Center Faustine Aifuwa had a season-high 14 points and guards Khayla Pointer and Alexis Morris finished right behind her with 13 and 11, respectively. Amani Bartlett and Grace Hall scored their first career points on Sunday and Emily Ward scored her first points of the season, helping LSU finish with 45 points off the bench.
“Now is a good opportunity to give the younger players an opportunity to get some experience,” head coach Kim Mulkey explained. “The most important thing is that I’m not giving these minutes out for free. I’m not giving them because of the score. You have to produce when you’re out on the floor.”
LSU used tight defense on TSU to force 19 turnovers, including 13 steals, which led to 25 points off turnovers. Pointer had a season-high five steals. The Tigers also finished with seven blocks, each one recorded by a different player.
“I think our speed and quickness on the perimeter is better than anybody in the country,” said head coach Kim Mulkey. “Quick hands. I’ve had some great point guards throughout my career, but the guards collectively play all three perimeter positions really effectively.”
TSU had four players in double-figures, led by Jala Buster with 13. Ataiya Bridges led TSU with five rebounds and four assists.
Playing for the first time since December 2, it took some time for LSU to find its rhythm against TSU’s zone, but LSU was able to get to the free-throw line early, attacking the rim and drawing fouls. Going into the first media timeout, LSU was 7-9 from the free-throw line and carried a 7-0 run to a 15-8 lead. TSU scored eight straight out of the timeout to take a one-point lead. Gusters ended the run, scoring on the right block. LSU led at the end of one, 18-16.
The Tigers scored the first 11 points of the quarter, including Timia Ware’s first career three-pointer, forcing TSU to take a timeout with LSU holding a 29-16 lead. TSU scored its first points of the second quarter at the 5:21 mark on a banked-in three-pointer from the right wing. Pointer and Morris knocked down threes on consecutive possessions and then Payne recorded a steal and converted it to points to extend LSU’s lead to 20 points with 2:14 left in the quarter. LSU only allowed eight points and used a late run in the second quarter to hold a 49-24 lead at halftime.
LSU came out for the second half looking to extend the lead further, sinking its first six shots and scoring the first 13 points. Texas Southern missed its first eight shot attempts of the half before sinking a three to end LSU’s run. With LSU leading 69-29 with 3:51 left in the third, Coach Mulkey went to the bench to get some more players extended minutes. Ward, seeing action for the third time this year, scored her first bucket of the season within minutes of entering the game. Bartlett recorded her first career points when she sank two free-throws. LSU led 77-36 at the end of the third quarter.
Hall began the fourth quarter with a drawn foul and sank both free-throws for her first career points and hit her first career shot later in the quarter, a three from the right wing. Hall had eight points. Bartlett, who totaled nine points, scored her first basket on a pick-and-roll pass from Ware. Ware finished with nine points and three assists, both career highs.