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Morrow has 37 Points and 16 Rebounds in 76-73 Win Over Virginia

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Morrow has 37 Points and 16 Rebounds in 76-73 Win Over Virginia

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — Aneesah Morrow had 37 points and 16 rebounds as No. 7 LSU battled to a down-to-the-wire victory Saturday over Virginia, 76-73, as the Tigers finished the Cayman Islands Classic winning both of their games.

LSU relied heavily on a small lineup most of the night with Sa’Myah Smith suffering a knee injury during Friday’s game. Aalyah Del Rosario, in Smith’s absence, got her first career start and played the most minutes of her young career as the Tigers needed her presence in the paint when they were not in the small lineup.

“Maybe one of my prouder moments in coaching,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “We were without Sa’Myah – didn’t expect that. We asked young ones to play out of position and to do some things that we haven’t worked on a whole heck of a lot. People say you coach to win championships and that’s the truth, but it’s much more than that to me. That was a happy locker room.”

Morrow recorded her second straight double-double and her second game in a row with over 25 points. She finished the Cayman Islands Classic averaging 32.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game to earn a spot on the all-tournament team.

Hailey Van Lith followed with 12 points on 4-12 from the field and a three-pointer. The transfer shared a team high 5 assists with fellow point guard Last Tear Poa.

“Aneesah and Hailey bring experience to our team right now,” Coach Mulkey said. “They’re experience having played at the college level is helping us right now. What they don’t know about our system, they know about the toughness of the game at this level.”

Flau’Jae Johnson scored just six points, but came through big on the boards with a career-high 15 rebounds.

Paris Clark led the Cavaliers with 19 points and she along with Jillian Brown both hauled in seven rebounds. Virginia’s nine made three pointers helped keep them in the game.

Going into the third quarter no team led by more than five points throughout the game, but just over five minutes into the final quarter LSU had built a 10-point lead. Virginia quickly responded, getting multiple steals after going to a full court press and got the game within two with a minute left. LSU was able to make free throws throughout the final 60 second to put the game on ice.

“I thought we just persevered,” Coach Mulkey said. “We were resilient. So many teaching moments. They can only get better from here.”

Del Rosario inserted herself quickly after getting the start, scoring the first bucket of the game. After Virginia tied things up at six Morrow regained the lead on an inside lay up off an inside assist from Johnson. The Cavaliers then went on a 6-0 run to take a 12-8 lead before the first media timeout. Following the break Van Lith nailed a corner three to put LSU back within one with four minutes remaining in the first. LSU traded buckets in the final minutes to end a competitive opening quarter with a 21-18 lead.

Clark hit a deep three from the top of the key to knot things up at 21 twelve seconds into the second quarter. Virginia outscored LSU through the first three minutes of the quarter 8-4 as it connected on two threes in the first two minutes. Vaugh hit back-to-back threes to give the Cavaliers a two-point lead with four to go before the break. Poa assisted Morrow as she scored to make it 36-36 and bring her point total to 20 with just under three minutes before the half. Despite finishing 1-5 of its last 5 field goals the Tigers held UVA scoreless for the final 2:29 of the half. Both teams were tied at 38 heading into the break.

The opening twenty minutes saw 10 ties and nine lead changes with neither team gaining a lead larger than four. 14 of Virginia’s points came off the bench. Aside from Morrow with 20 and Van Lith with 12, no other LSU player had more than two points in the first two quarters of action. Virginia’s Clark came off the bench to lead her squad with 15 points and account for 3 of 4 UVA steals.

The battle picked right back up where it left off as the third quarter started with LSU scoring six and Virginia scoring 5 all within the first three minutes of action. The Tigers held a 3-point lead at the media timeout after holding the Cavaliers scoreless for nearly two minutes. LSU’s Johnson blocked UVA’s Johnson three-point attempt that led to a Morrow put-back on the other end to take a 5-point lead, the largest of the night. The Tigers kept a slim lead of two as they went into the final quarter up 58-56.

LSU held the Cavaliers scoreless for the first two minutes of the quarter as it extended its lead to five points once again. Van Lith exited the game after an awkward fall and UVA three to put themselves a bucket away from the lead. LSU responded well as Poa earned her fifth assist of the night on an inside pass to Del Rosario. The Tigers forced a Cavs timeout after a 6-0 run put LSU up by eight. LSU went scoreless over a two-minute span as UVA made it a 3-point game with a minute left in regulation. Jillian Brown went 1-2 from the foul line to make it 71-73 with under a minute to play. Johnson and Morrow both sunk free throws in the final minute to help LSU secure the win.