No. 1 UConn escapes Tulane with 101st straight win

Tulane guard Kayla Manuirirangi (5) screens Connecticut guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson as guard Kolby Morgan last year in New Orleans.

Associated Press file photo

Last season, LSU defeated Tulane by 18 points in their women's basketball game mainly by forcing 30 turnovers against a Green Wave team that had two seniors handling the ball.

When the teams square off Sunday at Tulane, the Green Wave (5-4) will have a sophomore and a freshman as primary ball-handlers. Kaila Anderson, who prepped at University High — on the LSU campus — said she's ready. Anderson has been a bright spot playing 18.8 minutes a game behind sophomore starter Kayla Manuirirangi.

“This is a team that we've been waiting for for a while, so it's going to be very intense,” said Anderson, who originally is from Kenner. “It's an in-state rivaly. Me being from Louisiana, that was always a school I was ready to play.”

The key to beating any press is to score against it, preferably layups. Although Tulane has a method in place, Anderson's speed could help achieve the press break.

“I think Kaila and Manu both have done a good job of running our system, getting us in offenses, those type of things,” coach Lisa Stockton said. “I think Kaila Anderson has a really high IQ. And, she's got a different motor. I think that has helped us more than anything.

“When she comes off the bench like she does, it gives us that spark, just that energy.”

During practices leading up to the game, Tulane worked on being patient offensively against LSU (4-3). Stockton said most of the turnovers in last season's matchup came against the Tigers' half-court offenses more than their presses.

All-SEC guard Raigyne Louis — who was Raigyne Moncrief last season — leads the Tigers, who can turn a close game into a rout with a flurry of steals, putbacks and medium-range jump shots on the fast break and in the half court. Louis, 5-foot-10, was SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season. She is joined in the starting lineup by guards Shanice Norton, 5-8, Chloe Jackson, 5-9, and Jaelyn Richard-Harris, 5-4, as a foursome of perimeter swipers jumping into the passing lanes. Ayana Mitchell, 6-2, is at forward/center.

“We've got to just stay calm and take care of the ball, make sure it has to go where it needs to be,” said Anderson, 5-5.

Kolby Morgan leads the Green Wave in scoring at 22.2 points per game. However, Stockton said she likes the way the Wave is moving the ball better and finding the open player. Tulane had four players in double figures in its most recent game, Tuesday against UNO.

The Wave also had four players in double figures in its win over LSU at Tulane during the 2015-16 season. Tulane, which is averaging just 13.8 turnovers per game this season, had 14 in that game.

Anderson's on-the-ball quickness also has helped the Green Wave defensively. In last season's game, the Tigers' drives into the lane were a big factor in their getting 30 free throws, of which they made 21. Tulane was just 8 of 10.

“If we're the aggressor, we should get to 30,” Stockton said. “But they've got some great athletes, and that's something we've got to be ready to go against. (Louis) just has a different level of athleticism.”

One thing that may turn out to be in Tulane's favor is that LSU has shot just 7 of 54 (13.0 percent) on 3-point attempts, averaging one made 3 per game. The Green Wave has shot 69 of 184 (37.5 percent) on 3-point tries, 7.7 per game. In recent games, the Wave has shown an ability to make them off inside-out passes from the post or on the fast break.