Lady Tigers withstand late Grambling surge

LSU women win fifth game in a row, but struggle down the stretch.

Senior forward LaSondra Barrett led a trio of double-figure scorers with 15 points as the LSU women built a double-digit halftime lead and withstood a late charge from Grambling to win its fifth straight game, 62-47 Thursday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU (8-3) remained perfect in the month of December this season, taking a 36-21 halftime lead before Grambling (4-6) rallied with a 14-0 run in the second half that cut the advantage to five. Grambling outshot LSU for the game, 40% to 33.8%, and GSU became the first team to break the 45-point barrier on the Lady Tigers since a 77-68 loss at Ohio State last month.

"I give much credit to Grambling for not giving up and playing with great intensity," LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. "It did allow us to see what our bench was made of and allowed us to go deep into our bench to get quality minutes. I'm proud of this group for finishing out the task at hand before the Christmas break."

Barrett tallied 4 steals, 4 assists and 6 rebounds. Senior forward Courtney Jones was a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor with 11 points. Taylor Turnbow came off the bench for a season-high 10 points and Destini Hughes had 8 points and 5 boards.

LSU separated the score beginning at the 7:46 mark in the first half when Swayze Black's layup ignited an 11-2 run over the next 5 minutes. Barrett knocked down two jumpers and Destini Hughes and Theresa Plaisance each made a pair of free throws. Shanece McKinney's layup with 2:39 left in the stanza made it 31-18 LSU.

The Lady Tigers built their largest lead of the game, a 19-point advantage with 17:36 to go in the game before Grambling began a 3-point barrage scoring 14 unanswered points over the next 5 minutes. Grambling buried four consecutive 3s – two from Tonishea Mack and two from Markisha Patterson – to pull within 40-35 with 12:33 remaining.

Plaisance snapped the Grambling run when she nailed a trey from the left corner out of a timeout. Turnbow then responded with three paint buckets in the next 2 minutes. LSU closed the game with back-to-back 3s from Barrett and Jeanne Kenney to pull away.

Patterson scored 12 points to lead Grambling, which finished 6-of-17 from 3-point land. LSU, however, was able to convert 27 Grambling turnovers into 24 points.

"We will get better," Caldwell said. "I liked the fact that we were able to force over 25 turnovers. This team again needs to understand that we generate our offense through our defense and our board play."

The Lady Tigers break for the Christmas holiday for three days before resuming practice on Dec. 26 in preparation for one final non-conference game at Louisiana Tech on Dec. 29 prior to the start of SEC play on Jan. 1.

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