LSU Defeats Georgia, 83-69, Advances to SEC Tournament Semifinal vs. Tennessee
GREENVILLE, S.C. — The No. 4 (No. 2-seed) LSU Tigers took down No.7-seed Georgia Bulldogs to move on to the conference semifinals. The 83-69 win tied a season high 11 three-pointers and saw a 46-minute delay in the second quarter.
The 11 three-pointers made (on 22 attempts) is tied for the most by an LSU team in SEC Tournament history. LSU shot the ball well all night, sinking 50-percent of its shots from the field. Four Tigers finished in double figures.
“We trusted in each other,” Alexis Morris said of the shooting performance. “We trusted in our shot, and we came out confident tonight.”
“We’ve all been in the gym working,” Flau’jae Johnson added, “so it just showed when the lights turned on.”
The victory also marked head coach Kim Mulkey’s first SEC tournament win in her second season with the Tigers. In her first SEC Tournament appearance last year eventual tournament champion Kentucky knocked LSU out in the quarterfinals.
“We lost and Kentucky went on to win the whole thing, so that kinda softened the blow that they won it,” Coach Mulkey said. “But as a competitor you have to have goals, and our goal was to win one game here. We’ve done that now. Can we win the next one? Can we get to the championship? You get a little bit greedy.”
LSU will matchup against No. 3-seeded Tennessee Saturday in the tournament’s semifinals. The Lady Vols took down Kentucky late Friday night to set up Saturday’s showdown. In the other semifinal No. 1-seed South Carolina and No. 4-seed Ole Miss will meet at 4:30 p.m. CT and LSU’s game will start 25 minutes after that game’s conclusion on ESPNU.
In LSU’s first game against Tennessee, the Tigers won 76-68 and Morris scored a career-high 31 points. Reese had 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Morris led all scorers Friday night with 28 points, tying a career-high with five threes on nine attempts. She made her first three point attempts to set the tone for the night. Morris also dished out 4 assists and had 2 steals
Johnson, the SEC Freshman of the Year, stepped up in her first SEC Tournament appearance. Johnson had 21 points and made five threes and also had 3 assists and a block.
“I saw a relaxed kid,” Coach Mulkey said of Johnson’s performance. “I saw a confident player. Her first few shots, when they went in, you just saw a kid go back to relaxing a little bit. Flau’jae is an entertainer. She is an entertainer both in her music and she is an entertainer on that floor, and she is a happy kid.”
Two other Tigers scored in double-figures. Angel Reese dropped 15 and hauled in 6 boards. LaDahzia Williams added 10 points and 7 rebounds. Both were taken out in the fourth quarter with 4 fouls a piece.
Alissa Lewis came off the bench to lead the Bulldogs with 14 points and 11 assists, her first career double-double. Javyn Nicholson also came off the bench to follow with 11 points and 5 boards. Brittney Smith was the only Georgia starter to reach double figures with 10.
LSU held Diamond Battles to just 7 points on 2-12 (0-6 3FG) from the field. In their last meeting Battles scored 22 in a close game that went into overtime back in early February.
Morris led the way with 3 three-pointers in the first four minutes to take a 14-4 lead over the Bulldogs. Jonson hit a corner three on LSU’s final possession to regain the ten point lead ahead of the second quarter. The Tigers finished the half shooting 5-6 from the field and put up 5 three pointers in the opening quarter, 3 from Morris and 2 from Johnson.
In LSU’s last outing the Tigers were not able to connect on a single three pointer in the regular season finale against Mississippi State. Morris led the Tigers with 9 points and 4 assists.
Georgia started the second quarter with a 7-0 run to cut the LSU lead to four. Morris earned her fourth triple of the night to halt the run. The Bulldogs responded with a three of their own and a jumper to put them back within four. Morris moved her point total to 15 after going 3-3 from the foul line and a Johnson three put LSU ahead by ten for the second time.
At the media timeout with 4:23 left in the second quarter, the officials stopped play as inclement weather outside of the arena made its way onto the playing surface through a leak in the roof. The delay lasted 46 minutes.
Morris stayed hot and hit a mid range jumper to restart the contest. Both teams were then held scoreless until UGA’s Alissa Lewis hit a triple with 36 seconds to play before the half. LaDazhia Williams followed with a put back to give LSU a 46-35 lead before time expired.
The Tigers went 7-12 from deep and shot 50-percent from the field. Georgia totaled 52-percent and was 3-5 from behind the arc. The Bulldog bench stepped up in the first half, accounting for 24 of UGA’s 35.