With shooting prowess and a defensive effort like they had Thursday, the LSU womens basketball team will be awfully tough to beat in March.
The tenth-seeded Tigers hit more than half of their field goal attempts and held No. 7 seed Alabama to just 35 percent in a 78-65 victory in a second round game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
LSU (19-11), which snapped a six-game losing streak, will play No. 2 seed Tennessee in Friday’s 6 pm quarterfinal.
Alabama trimmed its deficit to 45-36 on Daisha Simmons’ 3-pointer at the 15:43 mark of the second half. LSU answered with a 19-3 run and took command at 64-39. The Crimson Tide came into the night last in the conference in scoring and field goal percentage and the offensive statistics looked respectable thanks in large part to the efforts of Shafontaye Myers, who scored 27 points and made six 3-pointers, one shy of tying the single-game tournament record.
Simmons added 18 points for Alabama (14-16), but the rest of the team combined for only 20 points on of 27 shooting. That included Ashley Williams, the all-SEC freshman team honoree and Alcovy High School graduate, who was 1 of 5 from the field and 3 of 8 from the free-throw line, though she did grab a team-high 10 rebounds.
LSU was much more balanced as Shanece Mckinney and Danielle Ballard scored 18 points each (on a combined 15 of 19 shooting effort), Jeanne Kenney added 16 points and all-SEC first-team selection Theresa Plaisance added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
LSU shot the ball extremely well (16 of 26, 62 percent on field goals) in the opening half and led 34-27 at the break.
Alabama had cut the deficit to 20-18 on Nikki Hegstetter’s jumper at the 7:37 mark of the first half. The Tigers followed with a 12-3 run, which included consecutive three-point possessions - DaShawn Harden converted a conventional three-point play and Anne Pedersen hit a 3-pointer - and led 30-23 with a little over three minutes to go in the first.
While the Tigers were red-hot from the floor, Alabama struggled, making just eight first-half field goals, four of which came from Myers.
Myers was Alabama’s only offense through the first nine minutes of the game as the senior guard hit four 3-pointers and added tow free throws for all of the Crimson Tide’s first 14 points and the No. 7 seed led 14-10 at the 11:19 mark.
LSU scored eight straight points, all of which came from Raigyne Moncrief and Ballard, held an 18-14 advantage 11 minutes in and never trailed again.