Though LSU missed the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1998 with a 19-13 overall record, it wasn’t because the Lady Tigers were dismal at home.
LSU went 10-4 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center with two of those losses to top-10 teams - No. 5 Tennessee and No. 7 Ohio State.
Wednesday night the new addition of the Lady Tigers open their home schedule at 7 p.m. against another ranked team, No. 14 Georgetown, a team similar to No. 20 LSU in style and tactics.
“Georgetown is going to bring a lot of pressure,” first-year coach Nikki Caldwell said. “They run a very aggressive defensive scheme. They don’t sit back in half court. They’re going to be stingy on the defensive end.
“This (LSU) group was pretty tough last year at home. We hope to have the momentum and the crowd behind us. At the end of the day, we have to execute our game plan better than they do theirs.”
The Lady Tigers executed the plan - sort of - in Monday’s 64-56 season-opening victory at Wichita State.
LSU played exceptionally well from a production standpoint on offense. The Lady Tigers shot 61.5 percent from the field (24 of 39), including a torrid 8 of 12 from 3-point range.
But LSU struggled to possess the ball, committing 22 turnovers to just 10 for Wichita State (1-1). Defensively, the Lady Tigers dodged a barrage of 3-pointers as the Shockers went 11 of 37 beyond the arc, a record number of 3-point attempts by an LSU opponent.
“They tried to get my blood pressure up,” Caldwell said.
“I didn’t expect us to turn the ball over as much as we did, but I give Wichita State a lot of credit for being aggressive and giving us some challenges. I was proud of this group for figuring out a way to win. Even when we were down, this team had a look in their eye that they weren’t going to lose this game.”
Senior forward LaSondra Barrett and sophomore shooting guard Jeanne Kenney led LSU with 16 points each, Kenney on 4 of 5 3-point shooting.
Georgetown has struggled out of the gate, beating Longwood, a Division I independent from Virginia, 56-45, before being routed at No. 10 Maryland 72-53. The Hoyas reached the Philadelphia Regional semifinals last season before losing to Connecticut.
Georgetown was led last season by junior guard Sugar Rodgers, who averaged 18.7 points per game in 2010-11. Senior forward Tia Magee leads Georgetown through its first two games with 9.5 points per contest, followed by Rodgers with 8.5 points and 5.0 rebounds.
This will be just the second-ever meeting in women’s basketball between LSU and Georgetown. The Lady Tigers beat the Hoyas 97-59 on Dec. 20, 1983, in the Converse Classic in Blacksburg, Va., during former coach Sue Gunter’s second season at LSU.
Caldwell, who revealed for the first time last week that she is expecting her first child in March, told reporters Tuesday that she is “praying for a girl.”
A girl who one day may be a college-level athlete.
“I go into people’s homes and recruit their daughters and tell them what LSU is about,” Caldwell said. “One day, hopefully, I’ll be on the other side of that.”
A pair of tickets to the Nov. 25 LSU-Arkansas football game will be given away at halftime. ? The first 1,000 fans in the arena will receive a mini basketball autographed by Caldwell. ? The first 200 LSU students (no admission charge) will receive free nachos. ? The Lady Tigers are 31-5 in home openers, having won 27 of their last 29. ? The game will be carried live on WBRP-FM, 107.3 in Baton Rouge and in the Geaux Zone on LSUSports.net. ? Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children.