Augustus, Tardy propel LSU - blow past Ole Miss

Seimone Augustus scored 20 points and dished out five assists as the LSU Lady Tigers overcame a sluggish first half to defeat Ole Miss 71-54 Sunday in the Maravich Assembly Center. <br> Leading by six at halftime with a 33-27 advantage, LSU (14-0, 2-0 SEC) outscored the Lady Rebels 38-27 in the second period moving on to the 17-point victory.

The Lady Tigers 14-0 start matches the team's best opening in school history tying a 14-0 run opening the 1996 season. The win was also coach Sue Gunter's 399th victory in Baton Rouge. When LSU hosts Kentucky Thursday, the Lady Tigers will try and give Gunter No. 400 along with re-setting the team's best ever start.

Despite garnering the victory and a 2-0 start in SEC play, Gunter wasn't all that happy in the wake of Sunday's win.


"I am never really unhappy when we win," Gunter said. "But I am not real happy with the way we gained this victory because of what we know is down the road."

Several aspects of LSU's game upset Gunter, including 19 turnovers and being out rebounded 19-15 in the first half.


"We had turnovers and there is no doubt that was a team effort," Gunter said. "I think everybody had one."


While Gunter was breaking down her team's mistakes, Ole Miss head coach Ron Aldy reflected on the things his team failed to do in the loss.


"We knew we had a lot of things to do to come down here and pull an upset," Aldy said. "We didn't come down here to play close for a half and it is frustrating because we weren't able to do the things we needed to do."


LSU's advantage in most games this season has been there depth compared to opposing teams. However, on Sunday, Ole Miss (11-3, 1-1 SEC) rivaled the Lady Tigers depth with a constant flow of players.


"They are so balanced and so versatile," Aldy said. "If you manage to stop one aspect of their team, if you can silence one of them, they will burn you three, four or even five other different ways."


Gunter's bench produced 28 points compared to 23 by Ole Miss.


"We've been getting a lot of help off our bench," Aldy said. "It has been one of our most positive things. But our bench got whipped tonight."


LSU's Aiysha Smith was one part of the Lady Tigers game Ole Miss was able neutralize. Smith, who was battling the flu, scored only two points and pulled down four rebounds. On the other hand, just as Aldy said, LSU found other means of scoring.


Augustus poured on 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Ke-Ke Tardy came off the bench with 10 points.


"Seimone has a very mature game for this league at here age," Aldy said.

Gunter was happy with Tardy's performance.


"She brings smarts and a lot of savvy to the floor when she comes in," Gunter said. "She has done a good job for us all year coming in and giving us a lift. Not everybody can come in cold off the bench and do that job."


Ole Miss came out in the second half and turned a six-point deficit into a four-point margin when Amber Watts hit a layup cutting the Lady Tiger lead to 33-29. The Lady Rebels managed to shave the LSU lead to four points, four times throughout the first five minutes of the second half. Finally, though, the Lady Tigers made their run. By the 11:59 mark, LSU's lead reached 10 points on a Crystal White layup. A Carletta Brown three-point basket got it back to seven points with 11:27 to go, but that would be as close as it would get.


A DeTrina White free throw gave LSU a 10-point lead, 53-43 with 9:08 left to play. The score never got inside ten points again as the Lady Tigers took control. LSU's largest lead was a 65-47 advantage (18 points) at the 3:59 mark.


"Ole Miss is a team in the SEC that probably doesn't get enough respect," Tardy said. "But you have to give them credit and you have to give them respect. They come out and play hard."


The Lady Tigers got off to a slow start, much the way they did earlier in the week on the road at Auburn.


Ole Miss scored the first points of the game when Amber Watts banged in a layup for a 2-0 Lady Rebel lead. DeTrina White put up LSU's first points of the contest when she answered Watts' layup with a two-pointer of her own.


Scoring was minimal in the opening stretch. The Lady Tigers never led by more than five points, which was its biggest lead with a 7-2 advantage at the 15:08 mark following a Temeka Johnson layup.


The Lady Rebels battled back and worked their way to a 4-point lead, up 14-10 with 11:26 to go in the opening period. LSU then went on a 10-4 run culminating with a 20-15 lead with 9:04 remaining before the halftime intermission.


"They got some scores in transition," Aldy said. "Some really easy buckets. We gave them too many baskets without them ever having to earn it."


The teams basically traded licks down the stretch. Gunter's Lady Tigers owned a pair of seven point leads at the 5:58 and 2:38 marks. However, Ole Miss was resilient closing the gap to three points with 1:49 left in the half on a Genice Terry layup.


Augustus led all Lady Tiger scorers in the first half with nine points. She hit 4-of-8 shots from the floor and chipped in a free throw in 17 minutes of work.


LSU gained possession with the shot clock turned off and called a timeout setting up a final play. With ball in hand, Kisha James dribbled left and right desperately looking for an open teammate. Unable to locate an open passing lane, James pulled for a long range three, which ripped through the net as the buzzer sounded.


"The three-pointer just before the half, that was not how it was drawn up," Gunter said. "But it looked good so we will give coach (Bob) Starkey credit for it."


In the game LSU shot just 40.1-percent in the first half, compared to a 59.1-percent effort in the second. The Lady Tigers finished shooting 28-of-55 (50.9-percent) for the game.


They found a way to pull their percentages up," Aldy said. "And we continued to be in the same funk we've been in from time to time where we get open shots and can't make them."


For the second game in a row, LSU struggled through the first half before going on to win the game in the second. In both games, it was Augustus who scored in double figures in the second half to boost the Lady Tigers to victory scoring 15 in the second half at Auburn and 11 on Sunday.


"We haven't been really pumped up out there lately, so we have to find some motivation," Augustus said. "We just have to come out and play every night."

From this point on, the road gets no smoother as LSU gets into the meat of the SEC schedule.


"We have no so-called blowouts left on our schedule," tardy said. "The SEC is the toughest league in the nation. Even our only non-conference game left, against UC-Santa Barbara, is a Top 25 team."

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