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Tigers Advance In NCAA Tournament With 70-60 Win Over Rice

NCAA Central Box Score Press Conference +0
Tigers Advance In NCAA Tournament With 70-60 Win Over Rice

BATON ROUGE  — No. 3 LSU opened up play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon with a 70-60 win over No. 14 Rice to advance to the second-round for the third year in a row.

“To emphasize the good things, we did hold them to below 39, 9 from the field,” Coach Mulkey said. “You’re going to win games when you do that. We didn’t shoot it bad with the exception of a couple of players. I thought the other players had good shooting percentages in the shots that they took. I thought we got to the foul line, like we have all year.”

LSU will match up with Middle Tennessee State on Sunday. The Blue Raiders upset Louisville earlier today with a 71-69 comeback win after being down by 11 at the half. Sunday’s game time and TV assignment will be announced later Friday evening once all of today’s games wrap up.

Angel Reese earned her 13th-straight double-double after putting up 10 points and hauling in 19 rebounds. She has 24 total double-double performances this season. 

In her NCAA tournament debut, Aneesah Morrow finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Tigers in scoring on 6-11 from the field. Morrow was the only player to reach double digits in the first half with 10. 

Flau’Jae Johnson and Mikaylah Williams both scored 14. Williams was named SEC Freshman of the year earlier this month. Johnson earned the same honor a season ago. The duo combined for 4 of LSU’s 6 three-pointers. 

Hailey Van Lith scored 7, had 3 assists, and 6 boards while Last-Tear Poa finished with 9 points, 2 blocks, and 4-4 from the free throw line in her return to the court after suffering a concussion in the SEC tournament game. 

LSU committed a season-high 24 turnovers, with three players recording at least five. The game was won in free throw differential. LSU was 22-31 from the charity stripe compared to Rice’s 6-8.

“There were a lot of good teams that got beat today that weren’t supposed to get beat; we won,” Coach Mulkey said.

Destiny Jackson led the Owls with 15 points on 6-13 from the field and a pair of threes. Malia Fisher followed with 13 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Emily Klaczek and Sussy Ngulefac each scored 10 for Rice. 

The Tigers started the afternoon on a 7-0 run, but after Rice scored six-straight to respond and move within one with five minutes to go in the first. Reese recorded 5 rebounds in the first 5 minutes of action. Following the media timeout, Van Lith scored the game’s first triple from the top of the key. Johnson broke a three minute scoring drought for both teams with a fast break finish to make it 12-6 before the end of the quarter. 

The Owls opened the second quarter with back-to-back threes to knot things up at 12. Morrow scored on consecutive possessions to regain LSU’s lead each time. Reese then went 2-2 from the foul line to score her first points of the game and move LSU ahead by four. The Tigers went on a 10-4 run and took an eight point lead into the media break. Rice held the Tigers without a field goal for the final three minutes as it moved within three before the half, 30-27. 

Both squads picked up where they left off trading buckets and staying physical on both ends. Rice outscored LSU 8-7 in the first three minutes to move the margin to 2. LSU looked to gain momentum after scoring three to extend its lead, but Rice connected on its sixth three of the day to move back within 2 before the media timeout, 40-38. Williams went 2-2 from the charity stripe to give LSU its biggest lead of the night and first by double figures.  LSU held its lead and entered the final quarter up 53-42. 

Jackson opened the fourth with a three and Klaczek followed with a free throw to score the first points of the quarter. LSU responded with four unanswered of its own as the defense forced two big blocks to pump up the home crowd. During the run Rice’s leading scorer, Fisher, fouled out with just under six minutes to go. A Jackson put-back moved the Owls within 9 just before the final media timeout. The Owls moved within six to force an LSU timeout with 1:43 to go, 62-56. The Tigers made all their free throws down the stretch to secure its first win of the tournament.

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