Lady Tigers Roll

The ninth-ranked Lady Tigers cruised in exhibition action and now look to Sunday's season-opening tipoff.

The ninth-ranked LSU women’s basketball team overcame a sluggish start and used a team-high 18 points from senior guard Allison Hightower to run away from Loyola-New Orleans, 78-43, in an exhibition game on Tuesday night at the Maravich Center.

The contest was the Lady Tigers’ only exhibition game of the season. LSU officially opens the 2009-10 campaign at 2 p.m. CST Sunday when Centenary visits Baton Rouge.

Hightower, the 2010 Southeastern Conference Preseason Player of the Year, finished 8-of-13 from the field in 25 minutes of action. Sophomore forward Courtney Jones earned the start after a tremendous offseason as she contributed 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half.

LSU shot an impressive 54.5 percent (18-of-33) in the second half to finish the game at 48.6 percent. The Wolfpack managed to shoot 31.6 percent (12-of-38) for the game. LSU, which features a roster of 14 players, outscored the Loyola bench, 40-0, and forced 19 turnovers.

“This is the tale of two halves,” LSU head coach Van Chancellor said. “We just broke down fundamentally. We didn’t do any of the things we set out to do (in the first half). In the second half, we really picked it up and began to play much better.”

The Lady Tigers used their size to their advantage, taking a commanding 43-23 lead on the boards and outscoring the Wolfpack, 48-12, in the paint.

Hightower was held to two points in the first 13 minutes before closing the first half with 10 points during a 12-3 run. Loyola was within two points, 22-20, with 5:46 remaining until LSU responded with six straight on a jumper by Jones, a layup by LaSondra Barrett and a patented Hightower runner through the lane with 3:58 on the clock.

On the ensuing possession, Hightower added another bucket and her layup at the 2:32 mark gave LSU its largest lead of the half at 32-23. The Lady Tigers took a 34-25 margin into the locker room despite being outshot by the Wolfpack from the field, 44 percent to 43 percent.

LSU erupted for the first eight points of the second half. Hightower contributed six during the spurt culminating with a pair of free throws that made it 41-25 in favor of the Lady Tigers with 17:21 remaining in the game.

Chancellor worked several combinations in the final period. Freshman guard Adrienne Webb drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and later added another to finish with nine points in her debut. Junior point guard Taylor Booze had a pair of 3-pointers as LSU finished 3-of-14 from beyond the arc as a team.

“The group I was satisfied with was the Taylor Booze, (Jasmine) Nelson, (Swayze) Black and Bianca Lutley,” Chancellor said. “They played pretty well. I was really happy with that group. I was really happy with the other group in the second half, but in the first half, we violated every defensive thing we’ve ever taught them here.”

Junior forward Jasmine Nelson added eight points and five boards in 12 minutes of action, while sophomore forward Swayze Black came off the bench for a game-high eight boards in 16 minutes of playing time.

Loyola was led by NAIA All-American Trenell Smith who scored a game-high 20 points.

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