Lady Tigers Can't Get Over the Hump

Lady Tigers Can't Get Over the Hump

POSTED: Monday, February 9, 2009 - 10:22am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:57pm

An 18-point first-half deficit proved to be too much to overcome for the LSU women’s basketball team on Sunday as Mississippi State used an early 16-0 run to defeat the Lady Tigers, 65-55, at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Lady Tigers (12-9, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) saw a two-game SEC road winning streak come to an end despite a career-high and game-high 23 points from junior guard Andrea Kelly. Kelly scored all 23 points in the second half and nearly willed LSU back from a 22-point deficit with five 3-pointers in the final period.

Mississippi State (18-6, 5-4) swept the season series between the two teams and beat LSU on its home floor for the first time since 1995. The Lady Tigers had won eight in a row over MSU at Humphrey Coliseum.

“We fought really hard today, but in the first five minutes we got away from our offensive game,” LSU head coach Van Chancellor said. “When you have four out of your five starters combine for six points that’s pretty tough. This was one of the most physical games we have been involved in. Their defense was outstanding and you have to give them credit for that. They were just better than us in every phase of the game.”

Junior guard Allison Hightower added 13 points and freshman forward Swayze Black, a Mississippi native, came off the bench for six points and six rebounds as part of LSU’s second-half comeback.

MSU held a comfortable 27-13 lead at the start of the second half and quickly built a 22-point advantage in the first three minutes of the stanza. Alexis Rack buried a 3-pointer with 18:10 remaining and then later fired in a jumper that gave the Lady Bulldogs their largest lead, 35-13.

LSU finally awoke offensively when Barrett, who was scoreless in the first 20 minutes, made two free throws and Kelly drained her first 3-pointer to cut the lead to 37-20 with 14:06 to play. Hightower made a spectacular runner and drew a foul with two defenders on her that put LSU within 12 points, 37-25.

The teams then began to trade baskets. Rack and Diamber Johnson knocked down 3-pointers. Kelly answered with two of her own, but Mississippi State still led 43-30 with 11:18 to play. Kelly scored six straight on two more 3-pointers with 3:47 remaining that finally cut the lead to 10 points. The junior’s career day culminated with a 24-foot shot from the left wing that made it 61-53 in favor of the Lady Bulldogs, but it was too little too late for the Lady Tigers with 0:53 to go.

LSU shot 35 percent from the field and 23.1 percent in a first half that saw the Lady Tigers only score 13 points. Rack finished with 22 points and Chanel Mokango chipped in 15 points for the Lady Bulldogs.

Hightower gave LSU its only lead, 2-0, on a jumper at the start of the game. However, MSU began its 16-0 run 10 seconds later on a bucket by Robin Porter. Tysheka Grimes connected for a 3-pointer at the 16:55 mark. Mokango responded with a pair of free throws and a jumper that put the Lady Bulldogs in front 11-2.

Grimes’ second 3-pointer of the half increased the advantage to double-digits, and Mary Kathyrn Govero’s two free throws at the 14:07 points culminated the 16-0 run before LSU’s Ayana Dunning made a free throw of her own.

LSU ended a six-minute field goal drought when Dunning made a turnaround shot from six-feet with 12:36 to go, but Mississippi State’s smothering defense kept up the pressure and stymied the Lady Tigers offensively again.

After Courtney Jones’ bucket at the 11:05 mark, LSU would not score again until Kristen Morris’ layup eight minutes later that made it a 27-11 contest.