2nd-half about-face propels LSU

Defense sparks Lady Tigers to 58-48 triumph over No. 24 South Carolina

All-America candidate LaSondra Barrett scored a game-high 14 points and the LSU women compiled a 12-0 second-half run with suffocating defense to rally past 24th-ranked South Carolina, 58-48 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Lady Tigers (13-3) stretched their winning streak to 10 games and improved to 4-0 in SEC play for the fifth time in school history. The 10-game winning streak is LSU's longest since winning 14 in a row in 2007-08.

"With us playing at home, we want to make sure that we're sending a message that the PMAC is a very difficult place to come here and play at," LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. "I'm really proud of this team in really being a defensive-minded team. I'm very pleased with our effort in the second half, considering we got off to a sluggish start. Krystal Forthan came in and gave us a spark, and Bianca Lutley was very calm and poised at the point. A lot of players did some good things. It was a great win for our program."

The Gamecocks (14-3, 3-1) saw an eight-game winning streak come to an end in surrendering a season-high 58 points to LSU. It was South Carolina's 11th straight loss in the Maravich Center, dropping to 1-12 all-time in Baton Rouge.

Barrett converted 8-of-10 from the free-throw line, including six straight free throws in the final 4 minutes following a double-technical foul on Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley, who was ejected from the game at the 3:20 mark. LSU shot 20-of-25 from the line for the game.

Bianca Lutley

Destini Hughes continued her recent scoring spree with 11 points and freshman Krystal Forthan grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds – 10 in the second half. Lutley provided a spark off the bench with several key shots in a seven-point effort.

South Carolina turned a 27-20 halftime lead into a 10-point advantage in the first minute of the second half, but the Lady Tigers cut the deficit to 30-26 when Forthan grabbed her own miss and scored. LSU continued to chip at the score and finally knotted the game for the first time since it was 6-6 when Lutley converted an acrobatic layup in the lane with 11:39 to go.

With the score tied 33-33, the Lady Tigers went on a 10-0 run in a span of 2 minutes with one hustle play after another. Lutley added another layup and Forthan's dominant second half included a steal at midcourt and a transition bucket from Courtney Jones. LSU led 39-33 with 10:02 remaining.

"Both teams did what they wanted to do defensively," Caldwell said. "The thing that I felt that separated us was when we changed up our defense and Courtney Jones was on the top of our press. Our pressure really picked up a notch, and we were able to turn them over and score the basketball."

South Carolina was able to come within a point (41-40), but a 12-0 LSU run starting at the 5:47 mark put the game away. Jones grabbed a Barrett missed free throw for a putback shot. Staley was then tossed from the game at the 3:20 mark and Barrett made six straight free throws to ice the game. LSU led 53-40 on Barrett's final free throw. Hughes accounted for LSU's final five points at the line.

LSU shot 42.2% and the Lady Tigers maintained the nation's second-best field goal percentage defense by holding the Gamecocks to 29.6% from the floor.

The Lady Tigers hit the road for the next two games beginning at Florida at noon on Sunday.


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