MIAMI — Freshman Danielle Ballard scored a career-high 25 points as LSU knocked off No. 12 West Virginia 71-63 Friday night, handing the Mountaineers their first loss of the season.
After 12 ties and 10 lead changes, the Mountaineers got within 65-63 with 1:42 left. The Lady Tigers (2-2), coming off back-to-back losses at Hampton and Georgetown, held them scoreless the rest of the way.
Ballard, the prized recruit of LSU coach Nikki Caldwell’s first recruiting class, put on a show, finishing 10-of-16 from the floor, collecting five steals and grabbing eight rebounds. Her 25 points were the most by an LSU true freshman since LaSondra Barrett scored 27 at Arkansas on Jan. 8, 2009.
“She was very crafty in getting open looks, but the main thing is that she was aggressive,” said Caldwell, who won her sixth game over a ranked opponent as LSU coach in less than two seasons. “She played very well off the bounce for us. Defensively, she got some huge steals and had some hustle plays, but more importantly, she was all over the boards. She definitely graduated to another level tonight. ”
Ballard made a layup and Theresa Plaisance was 4 for 4 from the free-throw line to seal the win in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic.
Leading 38-36 with 18:08 left, the Lady Tigers went cold, failing to score for more than 4 minutes. However, West Virginia (3-1) scored only six points during that span, and LSU quickly regained the lead.
West Virginia, which came in holding opponents to 49.7 points per game, was led by Taylor Palmer with 15 points. Ayana Dunning, who transferred from LSU, scored 11.