For the LSU women's basketball team to keep up its winning ways in the Southeastern Conference, it’s going to take contributions from everyone.
The Lady Tigers got that Thursday night, and the result was a hard-earned 80-71 victory against Missouri in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Raigyne Moncrief scored 23 points, and Chloe Jackson had 20. That has been the norm since league play began.
But it was the efforts of fellow starters Rina Hill, Alexis Hyder and Ayana Mitchell, plus another stellar all-around defensive performance, that gave LSU (14-3, 3-1) its 10th victory in its past 11 games and left it in a three-way tie for third place in the SEC heading into Sunday’s major test against No. 5 South Carolina in the PMAC.
“We need everybody to be an offensive threat on the floor,” said Moncrief, whose 13 free throw attempts without a miss, 11 of them in the fourth quarter, tied the school record. “Coach (Nikki Fargas) said before the game that everybody needed to have a scoring mentality. Everybody needs to keep doing that.”
Hill, who had been attempting just 6.4 shots per game and averaging 5.7 points, took seven shots in the first half, hitting five, to help LSU stay close to a Missouri team that made 8 of 11 3-pointers and led 34-31 at halftime. Hill finished with 12 points, matching her season high.
Mitchell had eight of her 10 points in the first half, during which Moncrief and Jackson had four and five points. And Hyder, scoreless in the first half after getting only 11 points in her previous three games, hit three straight layups and a 10-footer to key a 12-0 run in the third quarter that carried the Lady Tigers to the lead.
“I just got into the flow of the game,” Hill said. “I think we all had a different mindset tonight of just letting the game come to us.”
Spurred by Moncrief, LSU hit 23 of 26 free throws and had 16 offensive rebounds.
The defensive mindset wasn’t any different. The Lady Tigers, already ninth nationally in turnovers forced, improved their 22.9 per-game average with 27, including 12 off steals. That resulted in 33 points, enough to offset Missouri’s 61.4 percent shooting that included 12 3-pointers — five of them by sophomore forward Sophie Cunningham, who finished with 32 points.
“That’s what LSU is so good at — speeding you up,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “They create those live-ball turnovers that just come back to bite you.”
That was especially true in the fourth quarter, when Missouri rallied to tie it at 57 with 7:34 left. Jackson hit a pair of free throws, and Moncrief followed with a steal and two free throws.
Missouri never again got closer than that four-point deficit, although LSU’s lead never reached double digits.
All of that, Fargas said, has her team in far better position to challenge South Carolina, which held off Georgia 66-63 on Thursday, than it was against Mississippi State in the conference opener two weeks ago. That one was a 74-48 loss.
“Everybody bought in to stepping up tonight,” she said. “A lot of extra work is paying off for us.
“We’ve got a great opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country Sunday. We’re not the same team we were a week ago, but it’s definitely another measuring stick.”