Lady Tigers will face Loyola

The LSU women's basketball team plays the first of two home exhibition games at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday as the Lady Tigers take on Loyola University in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Admission to the exhibition game is free to those fans who donate one canned food item upon entrance to the Maravich Center. Volunteers and staff will be at entrances collecting canned food items as part of LSU Homecoming’s “Battle of the Cans” drive that is organized by LSU Student Government. LSU head coach Van Chancellor serves as honorary chairman of the event.

“The Lady Tigers are always proud to be involved and help our community,” Chancellor said. “I am honored to serve as chairman of this committee and hope our fans will participate in this food drive while coming out to see us play.” 

Fans are reminded that entrance to the Maravich Center is available only through the northwest lower, northeast stairwell and all south entrances, due to the construction of the new LSU Basketball Practice Facility. The northwest upper entrance will not be available for a period of time. The entrance changes are put into place until further notice.

A shuttle cart is available to those fans only in special need that runs from the Maravich Center elevator to parking lots L and A. Those fans are reminded to be patient. Shuttle cart routes are longer this season due to the construction of the new facility.

Members of the Geaux Zone on can watch live video of LSU’s two exhibition games. There will not be a radio broadcast to accompany exhibition video.

Chancellor enters his second season with the Lady Tigers and his 21st season at the collegiate level. The reigning Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year guided the Lady Tigers to a fifth straight NCAA Final Four in 2008. LSU returns four players from that squad headlined by junior guard Allison Hightower, the 2007-08 Southeastern Conference Sixth Woman of the Year.

“This will be a great test to see where we are and what we need to improve upon,” Chancellor said. “We have some great, young talent, and we are progressing very well. The biggest thing for us is our team has to believe in themselves. If we do, we will have a great year. I am expecting us to compete in the SEC and compete nationally.”

Chancellor says he will play all 12 players on the roster on Wednesday and Tuesday, Nov. 11, the date of the Lady Tigers’ final exhibition game against the Houston Jags.

Hightower has taken a leadership role since the summer and earned a spot on the preseason All-SEC Second Team. The Arlington, Texas, native averaged 7.1 points and 2.5 rebounds as a sophomore and played in all 37 games with two starts.

“She has endorsed everything that goes with leadership,” Chancellor said. “She enjoys being the face of this program.”

Hightower and senior forward Kristen Morris are expected to be a part of the starting five on Wednesday. Morris has played in 83 games during her career, and she averaged 2.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game off the bench last season.

Eight new faces will see their first playing time in an LSU jersey, including seven true freshmen. Destini Hughes, a 5-foot-10 guard from Fort Worth, Texas, and junior college transfer guard Andrea Kelly are expected to play pivotal roles in their first seasons.

Hughes was ranked the second-best guard in the nation by while earning 2008 McDonald’s All-America honors. Kelly played for two seasons at Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Niceville, Fla., before transferring to LSU.

Other true freshmen that are expected to contend for playing time include five forwards – Courtney Jones, Taylor Turnbow, LaSondra Barrett, Swayze Black and Ayana Dunning – and true freshman guard Crystal Riley of Arlington, Tenn.

“I really like the way our new team is playing,” Chancellor said. “I like the way Andrea Kelly is shooting the ball. Swayze Black has more potential than any player at LSU since Sylvia Fowles got here. We hope she can develop that potential.”

LSU enters its first exhibition ranked 24th in the preseason Associated Press poll that was released on Saturday. Loyola is also ranked No. 24 in the NAIA preseason coaches poll. The Wolfpack feature six players from a squad that posted a 28-7 record a season ago led by NAIA All-American guards Trenese Smith and Trenell Smith.

Loyola is coached by first-year head coach Kellie Kennedy, a former assistant for 10 seasons at Tulane.

After the final exhibition game on Nov. 11, LSU officially opens the season on Sunday, Nov. 16 in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic. The 24th-ranked Lady Tigers take on the 16th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 1:30 p.m. CST. No. 11 Texas A&M plays Pittsburgh in the second contest at 4 p.m.

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