Lady Tigers wrap up tough regular season at No. 2 South Carolina _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -LSU coach Nikki Fargas gives instructions to her players in the second half of LSU's 57-56 win over Tennessee last week in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The upset was one of the few bright spots in the Lady Tigers' season.

The long and winding road for the LSU women’s basketball team is nearly at an end, but not before the Lady Tigers face one more huge mountain to climb.

LSU wraps up a difficult regular season Sunday at No. 2 South Carolina. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.

The game will be televised on ESPNU and can be heard in Baton Rouge on WBRP-FM 107.3 or in the Geaux Zone at LSUSports.net.

It will be hard to expect LSU to offer much resistance to the Lady Gamecocks (27-1, 15-0 Southeastern Conference). Thursday’s 82-56 home loss to Florida gave the Lady Tigers (9-19, 3-12) their most losses ever in league play, eclipsing the 1992-93 team that went 0-11.

If LSU loses Sunday, it will match the 1994-95 team (7-20) for the most losses at the school in a single season.

The Lady Tigers upset Tennessee 57-56 last Sunday, normally a major achievement. However, the Lady Volunteers are languishing in ninth place entering Sunday’s play.

South Carolina has replaced Tennessee as the SEC’s major power. The Lady Gamecocks have a four-game lead on second-place Texas A&M. Their only loss was to No. 1 and undefeated Connecticut 66-54.

“This is going to probably be the biggest challenge” this season, Lady Tigers coach Nikki Fargas said.

LSU has been plagued by personnel issues all season. Fargas dismissed All-SEC senior guard Danielle Ballard in June, then lost All-SEC junior guard Raigyne Moncrief and promising freshman Ayana Mitchell to early season-ending injuries.

Sophomore guard Jenna Deemer, LSU’s best 3-point threat, missed nine-straight SEC games with an illness. She returned for the past three but played only nine scoreless minutes against Florida, a game in which LSU committed 30 turnovers.

Deemer’s availability at South Carolina is questionable.

“We have to go in there with the mentality to battle on the boards, but also to be that team that battles one possession at a time,” Fargas said. “We need to be as tough as we can in our defensive scheme.”

Against Florida, junior forward Alexis Hyder recorded her ninth double-double of the season (14 points, 12 rebounds). She leads LSU with 11.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

South Carolina is led by a trio of All-SEC candidates: A’ja Wilson (16.7 ppg), Tiffany Mitchell (14.6 ppg) and Alaina Coates (11.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg).

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