Mulkey Wins 700th Game Over No. 9 Virginia Tech, 82-64
BATON ROUGE — Kim Mulkey became the quickest coach in men’s or women’s DI basketball history to reach 700 wins Thursday night in the PMAC as No. 7 LSU took down No. 9 Virginia Tech, 82-64.
Mulkey surpassed UConn’s Geno Auriemma on the women’s side who got to 700 wins in 822 games and Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp on the men’s side who reached the mark in 836 games. Thursday was Mulkey’s 813th game as a head coach.
“These victories are special to me, but my impact on these girls is the most important,” Coach Mulkey said. “All in all, reaching 700 victories is nice, but I am most proud of my basketball team and where they have come.”
After a slow first quarter, the Tigers flipped the switch offensively and defensively in the second quarter. Four Tigers scored in double figures and LSU outpaced Virginia Tech in transition with 12 points off fast breaks to just 4 for the Hokies. The Tiger’s ability to get to the free-throw line was also big as they made 17 free-throws to 8 by Virginia Tech.
“When they spend time on the floor together, it becomes a thing of beauty,” Coach Mulkey said. “You see happiness out there, kids high-fiving, lifting others, and some roles that have now changed.”
Aneesah Morrow led the Tigers once again as she recorded her fourth double-double of the season, her third in a row. The reigning ESPN, AP, SEC and USBWA player of the week scored 19 and hauled in 15 rebounds in 39 minutes of action. She also added 3 steals and 2 blocks in the win.
“We have each other’s backs and were willing to take on the challenge,” Morrow said. “I feel like I’ve been showing that and my teammates have as well.”
Mikaylah Williams dropped 20 points on 9-15 shooting and added 6 rebounds and 5 assists. William’s Thursday night performance marked the third time she has amounted 20 points or more this year. The Freshman continued to shine in big moments as she led the Tigers in scoring in both the second and third quarter.
Angel Reese and Flau’Jae Johnson both scored in double figures to contribute to the 18-point victory. Reese totaled 9 rebounds and scored 9 in the final quarter to finish with 19. Johnson dropped 13 points and had 8 rebounds to record her fifth double-digit game of the season.
“We knew Virginia Tech from the Final Four and that was beneficial, but it was about us tonight,” Reese said. “Nobody comes into our house and takes things from us. You see how many people were in double figures tonight. We all play for each other and love playing good team basketball together.”
Virginia Tech’s dynamic duo of Georgia Amoore and Elizabeth Kitley led the Hokies all over the floor. Amoore led all scorers with 25 points on 11-24 from the field. Kitley finished with a double-double as she earned 16 points and 11 boards before fouling out halfway through the fourth quarter.
Hailey Van Lith, who only had 7 points, defended Amoore all night and did a good of limiting her space. Reese and Morrow both guarded Kitley at times and forced her to settle for jumpers instead of getting to the rim. Johnson was also big on the defensive end guarding the perimeter and limiting driving opportunities.
“Flau’jae Johnson and Hailey Van Lith were unsung heroes in the game tonight with their new roles,” Coach Mulkey said. “These two have greatly improved their all-around game and they put their focus on a strong defensive presence.”
After a slow start, LSU improved its 27-percent FG in the first quarter to finish 50-percent from the field overall. The Tigers fought hard down low as they out-rebounded the Hokies 43-29 and scored 32 points in the paint. LSU had 9 steals and 15 assists as an entire team effort boosted a comeback from dropping the first quarter.
The Tigers will take next week off for finals before hosting UL-Lafayette on December 10 in the PMAC to begin a three-game home slate before making one final road trip ahead of conference play.
Amoore led the Hokies through the opening six minutes with 7 points on 3-4 from the field as her squad held a 15-8 lead at the first media timeout. LSU forced VT to a span of 1-7 from the field as Morrow scored four to keep the Tigers within double figures. The LSU defense forced three pivotale turnovers in the final two minutes of the opening quarter to enter the second trailing 20-13. The Tigers started cold, shooting just 27-percent in the first quarter compared to Virginia Tech’s 42-percent.
LSU opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run through the first three minutes to tie the game at 20 as VT started 0-6 from the field. After a Carliegh Wenzel regained the Hokie lead Johnson responded with a triple of her own 20-seconds later. Both teams traded buckets to knot things up at 27 before the media timeout. Two made free throws from Last-Tear Poa gave LSU its first lead of the night, 31-27. The Tigers extended its run to 8-0 and held VT without a field goal for the final five minutes of the half. LSU took a 35-29 lead into the break as it was boosted by a 50-percent shooting average from the field in the second. The Hokies were outscored 22-9 and only connected on 3-16 for 18.8-percent.
LSU went on a 4-0 to start the third that saw Morrow pick up her tenth board of the night and secure her third straight double-double. Williams, Hailey Van Lith, and Johnson combined for 4 of its last 4 from the field to take a 14-point lead and force a Hokie timeout. Amoore went on to score 10 points in the third quarter to lessen the VT margin to 13-points. All five starters contributed scoring in the third quarter as LSU held a 61-48 advantage before the final 10 minutes of play.
After opening the fourth quarter on a 12-4 run, Johnson gave LSU its largest lead of the night, 19-points, just before the media timeout. LSU held its lead for the entirety of the final quarter as it went 50-percent from the field to outscore VT 21-14. All five starters scored in the fourth as the five put together a true team win for LSU’s 8th victory of the season.