The LSU women’s basketball team sputtered out of the gate in Friday’s season opener, plagued by inconsistent play in a 70-54 loss to Arkansas-Little Rock at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The smaller Lady Tigers did not match up well with the Trojans on either side of the ball, and they were overpowered in the paint.
“I give credit to Arkansas-Little Rock,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I thought they came in here and really did a nice job of executing their game plan. Their defensive pressure really disrupted our offensive action and what we were trying to run. They did a nice job of distributing the basketball and had players making shots.”
The Lady Tigers registered just three assists and shot only 32.6 percent. UALR finished with four double-digit scorers to LSU’s one and was 5-of-14 from behind the arc. After leading by two at halftime, the Lady Tigers were outscored 46-28 in the second half.
“When they were making their run at us, we’ve got to be able to answer those,” Caldwell said. “There were a couple of baskets that just took the life out of us, but we cannot rely on a basket to determine how hard we play on the other end.”
Defensively, LSU could not keep up with the Trojans. UALR was able to stretch the floor, find the open player and hit shots. If the Trojans weren’t scoring from the perimeter, they were driving down low and drawing a key foul.
LSU also did not do a good enough job of protecting the ball, especially in transition. The Lady Tigers tried to balance the size differential by pushing the tempo, but the team’s inexperience showed. UALR capitalized on LSU’s mistakes, scoring 20 points off 20 turnovers.
“I think they just outworked us, and we never matched their intensity,” LSU sophomore guard Rina Hill said.
Kaitlyn Pratt led UALR with 15 points. Taylor Gault and Alexius Dawn added 12 each, and Ka’Nesheia Cobbins had 10.
The lone bright spot for the Lady Tigers was sophomore guard Raigyne Moncrief. She led LSU with 15 points — nobody else had more than eight — and nine rebounds, and she was one of the few Tigers able to get to the basket.
Noticeably absent from the scoring sheet was All-Southeastern Conference guard Danielle Ballard, who remains suspended indefinitely for a violation of unspecified team rules. After the game, Caldwell said she had no update on Ballard’s status.
The Tigers return to action in a hurry, hosting Sam Houston State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We can’t waste this game; we just have to move on,” Hill said. “We need to improve on what we struggled with in this game and try to execute better in the next.”