One of the most anticipated non-conference games of the season arrives Tuesday as the LSU women seeks a win against Pac-10 powerhouse UCLA for the second straight year at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU (4-3) used a dominant second half to cruise past Alabama State 67-35 on Sunday. The Lady Tigers were able to work several combinations and quickly prepare for Tuesday’s contest against a UCLA team that was coached by Nikki Caldwell for three seasons.
“We have to be right on point right out of the gates because this UCLA team has been playing very well,” Caldwell said. “They have played a very competitive schedule. Our patience needs to be there and our ability to make the extra pass as well. It’s interesting because now I am on the flip side of scouting them and watching them play other teams.”
Caldwell turned the Bruins into an elite team, compiling a 72-26 record in her three seasons. UCLA returns nine players from last year’s team that suffered a 55-53 defeat to LSU at Pauley Pavilion last Dec. 28. Taylor Turnbow scored a game-high 18 points and made a game-winning shot from the paint in the final seconds to lift LSU to its best win of the 2010-11 season.
UCLA is off to a 5-2 start and has reeled off three consecutive victories. The Bruins are returning to the floor for the first time since beating Loyola Marymount, 84-43 on Dec. 4. They feature three double-figure scorers led by Atonye Nyingifa and Rebekah Gardner, both averaging 16.6 points per game.
“They are a tough team and will be very hungry to come in here,” Caldwell said. “When you schedule a team like UCLA it is not only going to prepare us for March but for SEC play as well. They (Nyingifa and Gardner) are two players that are very explosive on the offensive end. You can’t give them easy looks.”
LSU freshman forward Krystal Forthan has taken her game to a new level in the past two contests. Forthan scored 17 points on Sunday, becoming the first freshman to lead the Lady Tigers in scoring in a contest since Adrienne Webb on Nov. 21, 2009.
Senior forward LaSondra Barrett tops the team with 11.1 points per contest and has reached double figures in six of seven games this season. Jeanne Kenney has provided unselfish play, leading the Lady Tigers in assists with 3.9 per game, 10th in the SEC. Five times this season Kenney has dished out 4 or more assists in games.
Defense has been key for LSU, which leads the SEC in field-goal percentage, holding opponents to 31.9% shooting. The Lady Tigers are second in scoring defense allowing 49.3 points per contest.
This is UCLA’s first appearance in Baton Rouge since 1984. LSU leads the series with UCLA, 3-2, and the Bruins are making their first appearance in Baton Rouge since Jan. 6, 1984. The Lady Tigers have won two straight in the series and are 2-0 all-time against UCLA at the PMAC.
The game will be televised live on Cox Sports Television (CST) and can be heard on on the LSU Sports Radio Network on 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge and in the Geaux Zone on www.LSUsports.net/live. The first 1,000 fans in attendance on Tuesday will receive a free Lady Tiger replica basketball jersey.
Tickets are available online at LSUtix.net and on game day at the arena. The PMAC ticket office opens at 5:30 p.m. on the upper ramps. Tickets are $6 for adult general admission, $3 for youth general admission and LSU student admission is free. Tickets for residence of retirement communities will be $2.
Holiday food drive
In conjunction with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, the LSU women are holding a holiday food drive and ask fans to bring canned good items to each of the next three women’s basketball games, including Tuesday against UCLA.
There will be six barrels around the PMAC to drop off the canned good items. The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank will then pick up the items following each contest. Prior to Christmas, the Lady Tigers will visit the food bank to organize the food for homeless families and children.
“We are always in a position to be there and help out,” Caldwell said. “For us to be a part of this gives you even more of an appreciation of how lucky we are to eat three meals a day. We want to help out and raise as much food as we can for this cause. As a team, we want to do everything we can this holiday season for those who are less fortunate as others.”