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No. 1 LSU Drops Season Opener to No. 20 Colorado, 92-78

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No. 1 LSU Drops Season Opener to No. 20 Colorado, 92-78

LAS VEGAS — The No. 1 LSU women’s basketball team fell to No. 20 Colorado in its season opener, 92-78, in T-Mobile Arena at the Hall of Fame Series on Monday night.

“You can live with poor shooting,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “You can live with just a tough night offensively. What I don’t live with is just guts and fight and physical play and you got that dog in you. I just didn’t think we had that tonight. 

“This is not going to devastate us. The sky is not falling.”

LSU’s first home game will be on Thursday, November 9 against Queens (NC). Prior to that game, set to tipoff at 7 p.m. CT, LSU will receive its national championship rings and raise the national championship banner in the PMAC. Doors for that game will open at 5:30 and the ceremony will begin at 6:20.

Returning national champions Angel Reese and Flau’Jae Johnson led the starting five in game one. The duo was joined by transfers Annesah Morrow and Hailey Van Lith, and true freshman Mikaylah Williams. 

Williams played well in her college debut for the Tigers with 17 points on 50-percent shooting. Sa’Myah Smith also played critical minutes off the bench, going for 16 points. Reese had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds while Van Lith scored 14 in her LSU debut with three triples.

Colorado’s Frida Formann led all players in scoring with a career-high 27 points on 9-14 from the field with 7 three-pointers. The Denmark native led a Colorado trio joined by Aaronette Vonleh who scored 24 and Jaylyn Sherrod who added 19. The trio combined for 70 of the Buffalo’s 92 points. 

“I thought (Colorado) shot the ball good from three,” Coach Mulkey said about the Buffaloes. “I thought they just were poised, polished. I thought they were hungry.”

Colorado connected on 33 of its 62 field goal attempts to total 53-percent compared to LSU’s 44-percent. The Tigers allowed 10 Colorado three-pointers and only made four of its own. Both teams went 16-24 from the foul line.

Van Lith broke a two minute LSU scoring drought with a catch-and-shoot three as the shot clock expired to put LSU within one, 5-6. Van Lith followed with another triple to give LSU its first lead of the game. Morrow went coast to coast a possession later to advance the Tiger run to 8-0 before the media timeout. Williams dropped a defender inside the paint and pulled up for two as she secured the first points of her collegiate career to make it 14-10, LSU. Smith scored off an offensive board to regain the lead, 16-14, before the end of the first quarter. 

Colorado knotted things up at 16 to start the second quarter with two made free throws from Formann. A Van Lith steal tallied turnover number eleven by the Buffaloes with just under seven to play in the half. Van Lith was fouled on the shot and went on to make both shots from the foul line. After two missed free throws from Reese, Colorado extended its run to 6-0 and tied the game at 24 with 4:18 to play. Resse snapped an 11-1 Buffalo run with an off hand hook shot to make it 32-27, Colorado. Williams scored on back-to-back possessions that was capped off with a pull-up three to put LSU within four. LSU trailed by six heading into the break, 38-32. 

The Tigers shot 12-36 (33-percent) from the field compared to Colorado’s 14-30 (47-percent) in the first 20 minutes of action. LSU gave up 11 points off turnovers and was outscored in the paint 22-18. The active Tiger defense forced 12 Colorado turnovers and finished the first half tied in rebounds at 22. 

A Sadler layup was followed by a Formann triple to extend the Colorado lead to eleven. Johnson responded with a trey of her own to record her first bucket of the game. Williams kept the Tigers within double figures as she hit her fifth shot of the game just before the media timeout. Morrow went 2-2 from the charity stripe with 5:30 to play in the third and cut the lead to seven, 48-41. Both teams traded buckets in the final minutes of the third quarter. Vonleh and Formann accounted for Colorado’s last 14 points of the third. Poa made two free throws at the end of the third to make it 63-51 Colorado with one quarter remaining. 

LSU’s Williams continued to score as LSU battled early in the fourth before Colorado started to heat up. The Buffaloes went on a 11-0 run over two minutes to extend it lead to as far as 22 with six minutes remaining. Reese snapped the run as she secured her double-double with a put-back layup to make it 77-57. Colorado’s Formann achieved a career high 27-points as she hit her seventh three-pointer of the night to make it 81-62 at the media timeout. Smith scored on back-to-back possessions with an and-one turnaround and a pullup jumper to bring it back within 15. The Buffalo lead would amount too much for the Tiger comeback and LSU would go on to fall in its season opener, 92-78.