LSU (8-5, 2-0 SEC) won for the seventh time in the past nine games and began Southeastern Conference play with a 2-0 mark for the second straight year and the sixth time in the past seven seasons.
The Lady Tigers also increased the league’s longest SEC regular season winning streak to 17 games, including nine consecutive home wins in the friendly confines of the Maravich Center. LSU has not lost a regular season league game since Feb. 22, 2007 at Vanderbilt.
Alabama (12-5, 0-2) dropped its 10th straight game to LSU. The Crimson Tide was held to a season-low 34 points, 42 points below its season average. Alabama entered Sunday’s game after posting 54 points in the second half against Vanderbilt on Thursday before coming up short. Meanwhile, the 24th-ranked Commodores toppled No. 11 Tennessee, 74-58, on Sunday.
“If you appreciate good defense, you’ll appreciate this game,” LSU head coach Van Chancellor said. “I thought our defense tonight was outstanding. We only gave up 34 points and 34 points in the SEC is really good. Our perimeter defense on some great three-point shooting players was outstanding. We’re going to win games here at LSU on defense and rebounding the ball. I thought we did an excellent job of not giving up second shots.”
Hightower buried 10 of her 17 points in the second half and finished an efficient 8-of-11 from the floor with three assists and two blocks. Sophomore guard Katherine Graham turned in another solid defensive effort with three steals and six rebounds while registering a career-high 11 points.
Freshman forward LaSondra Barrett, who poured in 27 points at Arkansas, reached double-figures for the third straight game with 10 points.
“(Katherine) Graham and (Allison) Hightower were really good on both ends, defensively and offensively,” Chancellor added. “(Latear) Eason was really good at running our team tonight. They shot the ball really well.”
LSU once again dominated inside the paint outscoring the Tide, 28-8 and grabbing 48 rebounds to Alabama’s 37. Despite struggling from the field at 39.7 percent shooting, LSU used its stellar defensive edge to take control of the game.
Alabama’s 34 points were the lowest total scored on the Lady Tigers in an SEC regular season tilt since Mississippi State managed only 31 points on Jan. 20 last season.
LSU doubled up the Tide at the half and claimed a 24-12 advantage into the locker room. That lead quickly built to 31-18 in the first five minutes on a jumper by Hightower and a pair of layups from Barrett.
The Lady Tigers put the game out of reach with an 11-0 run starting at the 8:55 mark on a made basket by freshman Courtney Jones. Graham then buried a great look from the left elbow and followed that up with another jumper off a turnover to extend the barrage to 20 points, 47-27, with 8:06 to play.
LSU held its largest lead, 55-29, with 3:29 remaining in the game after Graham connected on a free throw.
Points were hard to come by in the first half as both teams shot under 35 percent in the first 20 minutes. However, LSU used an early 11-0 run to jump in front of the Tide highlighted by a pair of buckets from Hightower.
Alabama managed only two field goals in the first 11 minutes. Freshman guard Ericka Russell, who dropped 25 on Vanderbilt, was held to seven points for the game. Tierney Jenkins led the Tide in scoring with 10 points and six boards.
LSU plays its final non-conference game of the year at New Orleans at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday in Lakefront Arena. The Lady Tigers, who play four of their next five games on the road, resume conference action at Vanderbilt next Sunday at 2 p.m. CST.