ESTERO, Fla. — The LSU women’s basketball team dropped to 3-3 on the year with a 69-52 loss to Purdue in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase at the Germain Arena on Friday.
Akilah Bethel led the Lady Tigers in both scoring and rebounding with a career-high with 17 points and nine rebounds. She was 8-of-10 from the field and 1-of-3 from the free-throw line.
The Lady Tigers were again without Raigyne Moncrief and Ayana Mitchell, who are out with injuries. With just nine players in the lineup, LSU struggled to get into a rhythm with Rina Hill and Alexis Hyder getting into early foul trouble. Both had two fouls within the first five minutes of the game. Bethel fouled out with just over a minute remaining in the game.
“It’s going to be a challenge any time you are down to nine players, nine healthy bodies,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “Early in the first quarter, Rina Hill and Alexis Hyder both were called for two fouls each, and so now you don’t have that depth that you need, and you have seven players trying to go the distance in the first half. Obviously, we didn’t have enough to sustain it.”
The score was tied 13-13 at the end of the first quarter, but Purdue went on a 13-3 run to open the second quarter to take a 33-24 advantage at halftime. Purdue (4-0) outrebounded LSU 14-5 and outscored LSU 20-11 in the second quarter. Bethel had 11 of her 17 points at halftime.
The Lady Tigers were able to get as close as three points twice early in the third period before closing the deficit to 43-42 with 1:53 left in the third quarter, but they could not regain the lead. Purdue opened the fourth period with a 7-2 run and held a double-digit lead in the final four minutes of the game.
“I thought in the third quarter we made a nice push to come back and played some quality basketball,” Fargas said. “Some of the calls did not go our way, and we broke down in some areas where defensively we’ve got to be in tune. I thought we did a much better job of taking care of the basketball tonight.”
The Lady Tigers will face Marist on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in the second round of the tournament. Marist (0-5) lost to Louisville 65-53 in its first-round game.