Tigers Edged Out By Tennessee, 64-63
BATON ROUGE, La.— The LSU women’s basketball team returned to the PMAC Sunday after a two-game stint on the road to take on Tennessee. The Tigers fell to the Lady Vols in a tight contest by a score of 64-63.
Senior Khayla Pointer had yet another strong performance, scoring at a high clip and facilitating the action on the court. She finished with 25 points, matching her season-high, and contributed three rebounds, three steals and five assists. With this performance, she jumps into the top-10 on the LSU career assists list, sitting at No. 9 with 387. She surpassed Latasha Dorsey (384; 1996-99) and Marie Ferdinand (384; 1997-01).
Sophomore Tiara Young continued to show her reliability off the bench collecting 11 points, two rebounds, two steals and two assists. Redshirt-senior Faustine Aifuwa and senior Awa Trasi played vital roles. Aifuwa finished with eight points and two rebounds, while Trasi had nine points, four rebounds, and an assist.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Tennessee got the scoring started early with two layups, bringing the Lady Vols lead to 4-0. Pointer got the Tigers back even with two layups of her own.
- Halfway through the first quarter, both defenses remained staunch; the score was tied at eight with 5:11 left in the quarter with a Lady Vol heading to the free-throw line. Pointer dished Trasi a beautiful pass, which tied the score up at 10. This took the game into the first quarter media timeout.
- Pointer’s hot scoring continued out of the timeout with a three-pointer banking off the glass and in. The Tigers led 13-10 with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter.
- The Lady Vols tried to close the gap, but LSU was able to maintain the lead throughout the rest of the first quarter. The Tigers led 19-16.
- Beautiful ball movement by the Tigers led to a layup from freshman Ajae Petty, adding to their lead. Tennessee responded with a three and got within two. The Tigers led 21-19 with 9:00 remaining in the first half.
- Both teams began to trade baskets, but LSU’s effort on the defensive side of the ball was unrelenting. With 5:29 left in the first half, LSU led 29-23. At the second-quarter media timeout, LSU led 29-25.
- Tennessee was able to bring the score within one at the 2:57 mark but took the lead, 31-30, with a made layup. Young’s accuracy at the free-throw line briefly gave the Tigers back the lead, but the Lady Vols finished the half with the slight edge, 33-32.
- Tennessee started the second half with two made layups extending their lead to five. Trasi was able to find her way inside the paint, making a layup and a free-throw, as she was fouled in the act of shooting. The score was 37-35 with 8:46 remaining in the third quarter.
- Aifuwa tied it up at 37 after a Pointer steal. After Tennessee retook the lead with free throws, Pointer took the lead back for the Tigers with two free throws of her own and a fastbreak layup. LSU led 40-39 at the third-quarter media timeout.
- Out the break, the Tigers dialed up a beautiful play to Aifuwa in the paint. LSU added on to their lead, making the score 42-39 with 4:32 left in the third quarter. Tennessee swung the score in their favor with a three-pointer and a layup.
- The back-and-forth nature of the ballgame continued as Pointer tied it up with a layup; on a subsequent possession, she added onto the steal column and brought the Tigers in front 46-44 with 1:22 remaining in the third quarter. The Lady Vols led 47-46, heading into the final quarter.
- Tennessee started the fourth quarter with two fruitful possessions, while LSU brought the score within two at the 8:42 mark. LSU trailed 50-48. The Lady Vols had a couple of empty possessions, and the Tigers were able to tie it up at 52. Tennessee would call a timeout with 6:29 remaining in the game.
- Tennessee took the lead out of the break and widened the gap to four at 58-54. The Lady Vols added two more with free-throws, but Pointer showed off her passing ability, dishing a pass to Aifuwa for the layup. She would bring the Tigers within two after making her free throws at the charity stripe. Tennessee led 60-58 with 2:20 left in the game.
- LSU head coach Nikki Fargas would take a timeout with 1:06 left, as the Lady Vols led 62-60. Tennessee added two more, but Young got a bucket and the foul, cashing in the three-point play. Tennessee led 64-63 with 28.3 seconds left in the game.
- Tennessee won 64-63 after LSU had a chance to win in the last 13.8 seconds of the game.
- LSU is now 4-6 overall and 2-2 in SEC play.
Nikki Fargas‘ Postgame Quotes
On the game…
“Well, I think the game is definitely a game about how you finish off with your defense. Going into the game, we talked about keeping a very good offensive rebounding team in Tennessee off the boards and talked about how we have to be very physical. I feel like we didn’t do a very good job in being physical and then even late in the game, the inability to secure the rebound on critical free throws that missed. Those are all kind of momentum plays where they get another chance at it and, obviously, we had another chance down in the end there. Again, I think this game doesn’t come down to the one possession with Tiara (Young), it’s a combination of things and I think with not having Faustine (Aifuwa) in the first half pretty much, that hurt our team when she got the two fouls. She’s typically been one of our best rebounders and we needed her in the game. So, for her to not play in the first half, we don’t know what that would look like as far as the rebounding problems. I just feel like that’s where the game was won. A third of their points came off of offensive rebounds and second-chance points. If you cut that number in half, we win by plus nine, or plus eight and that’s the difference in the ballgame.”
On the last shot and Pointer not being able to get the ball and Young’s play…
“She played downhill and was very aggressive to the basket. That’s what you want. You want to be able to get the ball to (Khayla) Pointer. They were obviously making sure that she didn’t have it but when they had all their defense up top, we thought to attack the rim and see if you can get an and-one or an easy look and possibly go quickly in case we can get a tip or something like that, but it was a miss.”
On Tennessee dominating second-chance points with LSU dominating point off turnovers…
“Defensively, when we really started getting deflections and we were hustling to get the ball, the game played in our favor and that’s how we need to play. We need to be scrappy and we need to get after people. It can’t be just the guards getting after people, we needed our post-game to get after them–being physical and eliminating their second chances. Most of the game, when you look at who dominated for them, you knew that (Rae) Burrell was going to bring her game. I thought we did a much better job in guarding Rennia Davis, who is a very good offensive player. We did a very good job on her, but then we didn’t finish off our defense. We allowed two players to absolutely own the paint on offensive putbacks and that was their two bigs, Kassi (Kasiyahna Kushkituah) and Tamari (Key). We had looks, we knew what we wanted to run offensively, we knew where their weak spots were, we knew how we could play downhill, but we were also counting on our defense being solid to keep them off the glass. That was part of our game plan, that was a game goal of our and we did not do a good job in that area.”
The Tigers will take on the eighth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Thursday, Jan. 14. The matchup will be streamed on the SEC Network Plus at 6 P.M. CT. As always, you can listen to the Voice of the Tigers, Patrick Wright, broadcasting on 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.