LSU coach Nikki Fargas dealing with shrinking lineup _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU coach Nikki Fargas speaks to her players earlier this season. Fargas is dealing with an ever-shrinking list of available Lady Tigers.

Nikki Fargas has come to dread seeing trainer Micki Collins’ number on her cell phone.

Before a recent game with Arkansas, Collins called to say forward Ann Jones had sprained her ankle.

This was after guard Jenna Deemer was sidelined with an undisclosed illness, and after guard Raigyne Moncrief (knee) and forward Ayana Mitchell (back) were lost early in the season. And after Fargas booted star guard Danielle Ballard off the team in June.

LSU has called on walk-ons to fill out the bench, like softball player Constance Quinn, who has since gone back to her team as its season approaches. Another walk-on the Lady Tigers were planning to bring to Georgia last weekend couldn’t travel because of pink eye.

Former three-time All-American Tori Bliss, LSU’s most decorated women’s shot-putter ever, was going to come out because she still had a semester of eligibility she could have used for basketball. But Bliss injured her knee just before joining the team.

It’s all left LSU wanting for available bodies and grasping for wins in what has been the program’s roughest season in 20 years. But as shown by their effort in a 53-46 win Sunday at Georgia, the Lady Tigers have hardly given up.

“LSU is known for winning and being successful,” forward Alexis Hyder said before her team hit the road for Thursday’s game at Missouri. “We’re definitely going through some adversity, but we believe we’re better than people think about us. We’re not going to be defeated because of our injuries.”

Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Mizzou Arena in Columbia between LSU (8-12, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) and No. 22 Missouri (16-4, 3-4).

The game will be shown on SEC Network+ on the WatchESPN app and can be heard on WBRP-FM, 107.3, or in the Geaux Zone at

Deemer will miss her fifth straight game, according to Fargas, and Jones isn’t likely to play, either. That means LSU will likely go against Mizzou with a familiar six- or seven-player rotation.

“That takes a lot of guts and courage,” Fargas said of her players and their almost empty bench.

Hyder leads LSU’s active players with 10.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Sophie Cunningham, a 6-foot-1 freshman guard, leads four Mizzou double-figure scorers with 13.9 points per contest.

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