Texas A&M shot the basketball 11 times in the first quarter of its 53-35 stifling of LSU on Sunday afternoon.
One went in. That’s good for 7 percent, but it somehow kept the Aggies within four points, a likely outcome considering LSU turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter and made just four shots of its own.
The quarter ended with LSU up 8-4 and featured six Aggies turnovers that led to just two LSU points.
“The game could have been won in the first half,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “The opportunities we had to stretch that lead. When you hold a team to four points in the first quarter, your defense is doing what it’s supposed to do.”
“But we didn’t shoot a good percentage either.”
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair stood just away from his team’s huddle after the win, giving a television interview.
“We set the game of basketball back 20 years,” Blair said.
For LSU, its ineptness drew memories of 21-year-old misery.
The Lady Tigers’ 35 points were the second-fewest in program history, trailing just a 33-point effort in a 1995 loss to No. 8 Vanderbilt. That team made just 12 field goals in Nashville, Tennessee. LSU made 13 on Sunday, again the second-fewest in school history.
The futility was catalyzed by an abysmal third quarter when the Lady Tigers scored just seven points, five of which came on free throws, and made just one field goal after nursing a 19-15 halftime lead.
“We had a talk in the locker room to maintain, push ahead in the third quarter,” LSU guard Rina Hill said. “We said it, but we didn’t show it on the court.”
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M’s third-leading scorer in history, had 13 of her team’s 23 third quarter points, going 5-for-7 from the field after taking just five shots in the first half. Walker finished with a game-high 21 points, her fourth 20-point game in the Aggies’ past five.
Alexis Hyder came off the bench to lead LSU with 14 points, and Hill added nine. No other LSU player scored more than six points.
Walker opened the half with a well screened, unimpeded drive to the bucket that cut the Aggies deficit to 20-17 and spurred a 13-0 run that the Lady Tigers were unable to answer.
“(Walker) stayed aggressive the whole game,” Hill said. “In the second half, in transition, in half-court offense, she got whatever she wanted. Blowing past our defenders. We didn’t help each other on the defensive end.”
Although victory was achieved, Blair didn’t absolve his team of its shortcomings. The Aggies shot just 36 percent with just two fast-break points of 18 LSU turnovers.
But the Aggies were able to solve those woes, trusting their go-to guard who got to the basket almost at will in the second half.
LSU wasn’t afforded that luxury. Its quick guard with an outside touch, Raigyne Moncrief, was watching in street clothes, just as she’s been since December knee surgery derailed her junior season.
But that’s not a new dilemma. The Lady Tigers have coped and known of their injury attritions — Ayana Mitchell’s also lost for the season — but Fargas said the team must adapt to a “by committee” approach when scoring is needed.
“We’ve had glimpses where we went on droughts,” Fargas said. “You’ve got to be able to score the basketball. And we’ve had wide-open looks. And we missed them. When you get those open looks, because they don’t come often, you’ve got to knock them down. And we failed in that area.”