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No. 12 LSU Wins, 87-85, in OT Thriller vs. Missouri

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No. 12 LSU Wins, 87-85, in OT Thriller vs. Missouri

BATON ROUGE – Khayla Pointer made a layup with 5.7 seconds left in overtime to lift No. 12 LSU (16-2, 4-1) to an 87-85 victory over Missouri (13-4, 2-2) Thursday evening in the PMAC.

“I just thought everybody pulled for each other out there tonight,” said Head Coach Kim Mulkey.

LSU led by 11 at halftime, but Missouri surged back with eight threes in the second half, ultimately taking its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter. From there the teams battled back and forth. Both LSU and Missouri missed shots to break the 79-all tie with under 16 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. 

With the game tied again in overtime with the clock running down and LSU holding the final possession, Pointer lifted the Tigers to victory, driving the ball down the middle of the lane and sinking the lay-in as the clock inched towards zero. Alexis Morris blocked Missouri’s last-second lay-in attempt.

“I had enough confidence in myself to take the last shot and I wanted to win it for us,” Pointer said. 

“I love to watch young people compete,” Coach Mulkey said. “Everything about the game tonight I loved. It wasn’t an ugly game; It was a well played game.”

LSU will be back home in the PMAC Sunday to host Vanderbilt at noon on the SEC Network.

Four LSU players finished with over 15 points, led by Pointer with 21 and Jailin Cherry, who hit multiple clutch shots down the stretch, with 20 points. Cherry was dishing the ball out too, recording a career-high 9 assists. Morris added 17 points and Faustine Aifuwa had 15 Thursday night. Autumn Newby, who exited the game with an injury in the third quarter, led LSU with 12 rebounds, all in the first half.

After Newby’s injury in the third quarter is when Missouri began to mount its run. Coach Mulkey looked at her team and asked them to run a 3-2 zone, something they had never practiced, and it worked as LSU was able to get enough stops to earn the victory.

Missouri hit a total of 15-of-31 threes, the most ever by a LSU opponent. Laura Hansen made seven and finished with 23 points and Hayley Frank made six and finished with 19. Aijha Blackwell led Missouri with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Haley Troup also finished in double figures with 13.

Both teams shot the ball well during Thursday’s game. LSU finished the game shooting 48.1-percent from the field and Missouri was 47.6-percent.

LSU forced a turnover on Missouri’s first offensive possession and Cherry hit LSU’s first shot attempt to get on the board first. Aifuwa scored the Tigers’ next six points to put LSU ahead, 8-2. Missouri, the No. 2 three-point shooting team in the SEC, was cold to start the game and missed its first 4 attempts from beyond the arc, but then made its next two to get into the flow. LSU meanwhile came out shooting the ball well, starting 7-of-12 from the field to build a 17-8 lead. But Missouri quickly responded and got hot from long range, scoring the  next seven points to make it a two-point game. Pointer ended LSU’s scoring drought with a layup and then with under five second left in the quarter, she hit a three to put LSU up 24-18.

Early in the second quarter, LSU went with a lineup of four guards and Newby, who was owning the boards, to match Missouri’s small lineup. Morris pulled up for a deep two in transition with 5:36 left in the quarter to give LSU a 31-22 lead. Out of the media timeout, Cherry hit a jumper, LSU got a stop and Pointer laid it on on a fast break to give LSU a 13-point lead, seizing momentum and forcing a Missouri timeout. LSU made 8 of its final 9 shots of the half and took a 44-33 lead into the break.

Newby was a rebounding machine in the first half, grabbing 12 boards, before her third quarter injury.

Missouri had cut it to a three point game by the 5:45 mark in the third quarter with a 9-0 run after Newby’s injury. Pointer ended the run, sinking two free-throws, but Missouri’s Hansen immediately made a three. Ryann Payne made LSU’s first basket in nearly three and a half minutes to extend LSU’s lead back to two possessions. Some momentum shifted back towards LSU at the 2:36 mark when Aifuwa, playing with four fouls, finished an and-one to give LSU a 59-52 lead. After Missouri made a three, Morris responded with her own three with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter. After a Missouri bucket, LSU held a 61-57 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Cherry got LSU’s scoring started in the fourth quarter right away with a pull-up jumper from 12-feet, but Missouri’s Frank responded with a triple. Another Missouri three with 8:17 left made it a three-point game, but Aifuwa scored in the post to put LSU up, 68-63, the next possession. LSU got a stop and Morris hit a runner to keep Missouri at bay early in the final quarter. After a Missouri three, Pointer responded with her fourth triple of the game and Missouri took a timeout at the 4:45 mark with LSU holding a 73-66 lead. 

Out of the timeout, Missouri scored four unanswered and with 2:53 left Hansen hit a trey to tie it at 73. Cherry scored on the next possession though with the game hanging in the balance. At the 2:11 mark Missouri took its first lead when Troup converted an and-one, but Aifuwa got an offensive rebound and scored the next possession to re-give LSU the lead. Once again Missouri scored to take the lead, but Cherry earned her 9th assist of the game, finding Hannah Gusters for a six-foot jumper as the teams traded baskets. After Blackwell made one of two free-throws with one minute remaining regulation was tied at 79 which is how regulation ended.

Cherry kicked off LSU’s overtime scoring, pulling up from 12 feet. She hit another shot on the next possession after a defensive stop to put LSU up four. Blackwell scored on the next two possessions for Missouri to tie it back up at 83. 

Morris pulled up with one minute remaining to give LSU a 85-83 lead and Gusters grabbed a critical defensive rebound after Missouri launched a three that could have given them the lead. Blackwell fouled Gusters, picking up her fifth and final foul, but LSU fumbled the ball out of bounds inbounding the ball, giving it back to Missouri with time for one final possession. Pointer was called for a foul against Troup with 13 seconds remaining who made both free-throws to tie the game with 13 seconds left before Pointer ended the game though with her layup with time winding down.

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