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LSU Advances To SEC Championship With 75-67 Win Over Ole Miss

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LSU Advances To SEC Championship With 75-67 Win Over Ole Miss

GREENVILLE, S.C.  — LSU is headed to the SEC Tournament Championship game for the first time since 2012 after a 75-67 win over Ole Miss on Saturday night inside the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, setting up a matchup against South Carolina on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN.

With just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Last-Tear Poa squared up to take a charge in transition and fell down, hitting the back of her head, suffering a concussion. She ultimately needed a stretcher to be taken off the floor and was transported to St. Francis Hospital in Greenville to undergo further tests. Poa had feeling in all extremities and the CT scan came back negative. She is awake and responsive and is expected to be discharged from the hospital tonight. The LSU medical staff will keep a close eye on her throughout the night.

“As I was walking to this press conference, the trainer told me the CT scan came back clean so that’s wonderful news,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “I spoke to her mother, of course she’s from Australia.

“She was just a little bit unresponsive is how I would describe it. She could squeeze your hand lightly. She could tell you she could feel her legs. But she couldn’t really articulate good enough for you not to be afraid. The kids were right there and they saw it all.”

“We were just trying to keep the team together as much as possible because Poa would want us to stay together,” Angel Reese said. “Poa would want us to play hard and do this for her and win this game and play tough. She is one of the toughest players on our team so being to fight for her; we hit a couple tough shots and kept saying, that’s for Poa, that’s for Poa.”

LSU held a six point lead when Poa went down and came together to finish the game victorious. 

“Honestly, I don’t give a damn about the game at that point,” Coach Mulkey said. “I really don’t. That’s somebody’s child. That’s my player and those are my players in that huddle. When I got to the huddle it was bad. It was just very, very emotional. I think Angel spoke up. I think Hailey (Van Lith) spoke up saying, ‘we’ve gotta get through this. We’ve got to finish the game.’ They dug deep. It was one of the more gutsy performances of a team I’ve ever coached.”

The Tigers have won the SEC Tournament championship twice, most recently in 2003. The Tigers will meet the top-seed, undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks. Their semifinal game went down to the wire against Tennessee. Trailing by two, Kamilla Cardoso made the first three of her career at the buzzer for the Gamecocks to remain unbeaten, looking to defend last year’s SEC Tournament Championship. 

“I’m up for the challenge, we’re up for the challenge, our coaches are up for the challenge and we’re ready for tomorrow,” Reese said.

“This is my third year at LSU and this is the first championship in the conference tournament that we’ve played in,” Coach Mulkey said. “That’s big. That was a goal of ours that when you get to the conference tournament, get to that championship game.”

The double-double duo of Reese and Aneesah Morrow were back at it again both earning a double-double in the same game for the 12th time this season. Reese was a game time decision against Ole Miss after rolling her right ankle Friday in the fourth quarter against Auburn. Saturday she finished with 21 points, 9 in the fourth quarter, and 17 rebounds, her 11th straight double-double. Morrow finished with 12 points and hauled in 12 rebounds. 

Flau’jae Johnson also led the Tigers with 21 points on 8-14 from the field and a pair of threes. Johnson has helped lead the Tigers in scoring for both games in the SEC tournament. Johnson scored a season-high 25 against Auburn on Friday. 

Madison Scott and Marquesha Davis led the Rebels with 22 and 21 points, respectively. The duo combined for 43 of Ole Miss’ 67 points. The other Rebel to break double figures was Kennedy Todd-Williams with 16 points. 

LSU outscored Ole Miss 8-2 to start the contest before the Rebels went on a 5-0 run to get within 1. Morrow and Johnson scored on back-to-back possessions to give the Tigers a 12-9 lead at the first media timeout. Following the break, Johnson got things going with her first triple of the night and sparked a 7-0 LSU run. The Tigers took a 19-12 advantage into the second quarter, holding Ole Miss to 17.6-percent shooting in the first.

The Tigers traded buckets early as it held on to its lead while Ole Miss continued to find ways to score. LSU went 4 of its last 5 from the field ahead of the media timeout while Ole Miss trailed 29-21 with under five minutes to go. After the timeout, Reese finished a put-back layup to move LSU into a double digit lead for the first time. At the end of the quarter, LSU took a 36-28 lead into the locker room. 

Johnson and Morrow both scored 10 points in the first half to lead the Tigers. Reese finished the half with 8 points and 12 rebounds. Scott led all scorers with 13 points on 5-10 from the field. LSU shot 40.5-percent from the field in the opening half, but was 0-2 on free throws and 2-9 from three-point range. 

Ole Miss scored the first 4 points of the third quarter before Reese connected on a jumper to secure her double-double with 10 and 12. The Rebels went on to make it a one score game as they extended their run to 7-2 in the first two minutes. Todd-Williams moved the Rebels margin to 2 with a turnaround jumper, Ole Miss’ closest lead since the opening quarter. The LSU defense held Ole Miss scoreless for over two minutes to hold a 43-37 lead at the media timeout. A minute after the timeout, Poa scored her first field goal of the night with her first three-pointer to give LSU a 7-point lead. Both teams traded buckets down the stretch, but LSU was able to hold its lead before the final quarter, 53-51. 

The Tigers went on a 9-2 run to build its lead back up to 9 as Reese led the way with 7 of the 9 points. The streak was snapped with a Todd-Williams triple to make it a 6-point game. With 5:44 to play a personal foul was called against Poa as she attempted to take a charge and was thrown down to the baseline, ultimately needing a stretcher to be taken off the court. Johnson saved a Rebel fast break lay-up as she flew down the court to send Zakiya Stephenson’s attempt into the first row. Johnson followed the defensive effort with a top of the key three-pointer to go up by 8. Johnson scored another jumper minutes later and Van Lith went 6-6 from the foul line in the clutch to lock up the LSU victory, 75-67.