GAINESVILLE, Fla. — DaShawn Harden scored 20 of her 23 points in the second half, as the LSU women’s basketball team won its Southeastern Conference opener over Florida 68-65 on Friday night.
With a 63-58 lead, Harden made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 77 seconds to keep the Gators at bay. Harden’s career high came on 7-of-13 shooting including three 3-pointers and 6 of 7 at the free throw line.
LSU’s defense was another key, Harden said.
“This past couple of days, we have been working a lot on help defense,” she said. “As a team, I think we made sure we were in the help line. I think seeing that second line of defense made (Florida) second guess driving.”
LSU (7-6, 1-0 SEC) made 47.1 percent of its shots (24 of 51) and overcame 24 turnovers to record the road victory. The Lady Tigers trailed by as many as 15 at 19-4 early in the first half before coming back to tie the game at 30 at halftime. Anne Pedersen, who finished with 14 points, made all five of her first-half shots to keep the Lady Tigers in the game early.
“This was a big win for us because Florida is a very well-coached basketball team,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “They have unbelievable guard play and a balanced attack. We felt that this game would be won by whichever team executed not only offensively, but the team that would get those stops we needed, which I felt was the difference for us down the stretch. We were able to get defensive stops that we needed.
A quick turnaround is in store for LSU, as the Lady Tigers host No. 1 South Carolina at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Florida (8-6, 0-1) was held to 39.3 percent shooting (22 of 56). The Gators were paced by Kayle Lewis with 17 points and eight rebounds.