Gunter gets 400th win in topping Kentucky
Doneeka Hodges, who was 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half, finished the game with 24 points, the second highest total of her LSU career.
Seimone Augustus added 16 points and DeTrina White 10 as all 14 LSU players who dressed out got into the contest.
Gunter, in her 21st season at the Lady Tigers' helm, is now 400-209 at LSU and 666-296 overall, ranking her third on the all-time victories list behind Tennessee's Pat Summitt (800) and Texas' Jody Conradt (798). Gunter is the fourth coach to win 400 or more games at an SEC school, joining Summitt, Auburn's Joe Ciampi and Georgia's Andy Landers.
Gunter was presented with a commemorative game ball by LSU associate athletics director Judy Southard in a post-game ceremony. The game was attended by a majority of members of the LSU Board of Supervisors, LSU chancellor Dr. Mark Emmert and LSU system president Dr. William Jenkins.
"I'm very appreciative to all the players who have passed through the program and contributed to it," Gunter said. "I'm most appreciative to the Board of Supervisors and the administration for sharing in this moment."
Gunter is the second basketball coach at LSU to win 400 games, joining former men's coach Dale Brown, who was 448-301 in 25 years from 1972 through 1997.
In breaking the previous best start to a season of 14-0 in 1996-97, the Lady Tigers also tied a school record for consecutive victories, which included the aforementioned start in 1996-97 and the final game of the 1995-96 season, a victory over Arkansas in the third-place game of the now-defunct NWIT. The record for consecutive wins for an LSU basketball team, men or women, is the 25 by the 1980-81 men's team that reached the NCAA Final Four in Philadelphia.
LSU (No. 2 AP, No. 3 ESPN/USA Today) is also 3-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1998-99 and just the third time in school history. The Lady Tigers travel to Arkansas (No. 10 AP, No. 9 ESPN/USA Today) on Sunday at 4 p.m. for a nationally televised game on ESPN. LSU visits Florida next Thursday before returning home on Super Bowl Sunday to take on Vanderbilt in a rematch of last year's SEC Tournament championship game won by the Commodores.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt, as LSU (15-0, 3-0) scored the first six points of the game and raced to a 53-21 halftime lead on the strength of a defense that allowed the Wildcats (8-6, 1-1) to shoot just 31 percent from the field in the half and 30.2 percent on the game.
"The kids played about as good half as you can play," Gunter said. "And defensively, we did the things we were capable of and had a great game, period."
White scored the game's first two points on two foul shots with just under a minute gone, and Temeka Johnson would add a pair of jumpers to make it 6-0 with 1:35 elapsed in the game. Kentucky pulled to within 6-5 on a Jennifer Humphrey jumper and a Jenny Pfeiffer 3-pointer with 17:43 to go in the half, but the Wildcats would never get any closer.
LSU went on a 9-0 run after Pfeiffer's trey, using Hodges' first 3-pointer and a layup, plus a pair of layups by DeTrina White to make it 15-5 with only 4:08 gone, and the lead would quickly mushroom to 23-9 when KeKe Tardy fed Aiysha Smith for an easy layup at the 12:17 mark of the opening half.
It took just four more minutes for LSU to expand the lead to 33-13 on another Hodges 3-pointer, and Kisha James buried a jumper for a 40-18 edge with 5:34 still remaining before intermission.
LSU scored the final six points of the first half from the foul line, with four of them on shots by Augustus, to grab their 32-point halftime advantage.
"I've seen almost all of the top 25 teams in the country, and there's no doubt in my mind LSU is number one," Kentucky coach Bernadette Mattox said. "LSU was very energized from the beginning and they proved they are capable of keeping their winning streak going."
Hodges hit her fifth 3-pointer of the game early in the second half to build the Lady Tigers' bulge to 58-23, and thanks to a stifling defense that continued to harass Kentucky in the second half, LSU never saw its lead go under 31 points in the final 16 minutes of the contest. Hodges' sixth and final 3-pointer gave LSU a 71-31 lead with 11:48 remaining.
Treynell Clavelle scored a career high four points in the game's final two minutes, and the highlight of the evening for the crowd of 3,107 came with 1:12 left when senior guard Patty Hanten nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner to build LSU's lead to 80-37.
Pfeiffer and Shambrica Jones led Kentucky with nine points each, while Humphrey added eight for the Wildcats, who have now lost six straight to LSU.
The 39 points scored by Kentucky are the second fewest for an LSU opponent in conference play, eclipsed by only the 34 scored by Florida in 1986. The 43-point margin of victory is also the largest in a conference game, eclipsing the old mark in an 85-51 victory over Arkansas in 1999. The Lady Tigers defeated Florida 94-46 in 1978 and Alabama 105-57 in 1979 before the SEC officially recognized women's basketball in 1980.
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