The LSU women’s basketball team’s rematch against Georgia didn’t go as well for the Lady Tigers as their first meeting did.
The Lady Bulldogs led for most of the contest but needed a third-quarter push to put sink LSU 58-47 on Sunday afternoon in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Lady Tigers (8-17, 2-10 Southeastern Conference) were just two weeks removed from a 53-46 road win at Georgia, which has won five straight games since then.
“When Georgia separated themselves, I thought it was a matter of their intensity raising up,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “Being not only able to push the basketball back at us, but also scoring in the half court against our zone. That gave them a lot of confidence.”
Freshman guard Shanice Norton notched a season-high 15 points, and junior forward Alexis Hyder picked up her eighth double-double of the season, but poor shooting from the field (32.7 percent) and from the line (57.7 percent) prevented the Lady Tigers from pulling ahead.
Senior guards Tiaria Griffin and Shacobia Barbee got Georgia (19-6, 7-5) going early with a pair of 3-pointers, the start of a long-range barrage in the first quarter. The Lady Bulldogs shot 4-for-7 from behind the arc, with makes coming from three different players, and assisted on all five of their first-quarter baskets.
LSU’s moved at a slow, methodical pace to offset its injury-stricken roster. While their defense and rebounding kept them in the game, the Lady Tigers made only four of 16 shots in the opening period.
“Offensively we struggled, but that’s something we’re going to continue to address,” Fargas said.
LSU stayed within striking distance before finishing the second quarter with four straight points, capped by a fast-break bucket from junior guard Rina Hill in the closing seconds to keep her team within one possession.
LSU extended its run to eight straight points, aided by four Georgia turnovers on its first four possessions after halftime. Hill’s jumper a minute-and-a-half into the quarter gave the Lady Tigers a 26-25 edge, their only lead of the game.
“We were feeding off each other and executing the things coach has been telling us to do in practice,” Norton said.
The Lady Bulldogs didn’t stay down for long, erupting for a 14-4 run that gave them their largest lead up to that point. Meanwhile, Hyder picked up her third and fourth fouls in a span of 34 seconds, but that wasn’t what hurt LSU the most.
The team missed eight free throws in the third quarter, squandering several opportunities to cut into Georgia’s single-digit lead.
“It plays a big factor,” Fargas said of the missed free throws. “If you’re not knocking those free throws down, it favors the team that’s fouling you. Now you’re not making them pay by putting points on the board.”
The Lady Bulldogs pulled away from there, leading by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter. The rebounding battle favored the Lady Tigers 38-36, but they allowed 28 points in the paint.
Barbee (14 points and 10 rebounds) and freshman forward Caliya Robinson (19 and 11) recorded double-doubles for Georgia. Hyder posted 10 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out.
“You can’t be a repeat offender. You can’t continue to get in foul trouble,” said Hyder, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. “Being honest, I feel like I let my team down, in a sense.”
Barrett recognized for SEC honor
Fargas before tipoff presented former LSU forward and current graduate assistant LaSondra Barrett with a plaque for being named the school’s 2016 SEC Women’s Legend.
Barrett totaled more than 1,500 points, 800 rebounds, 200 assists and 100 steals during her four-year career, one of only two Lady Tigers to do so. She was the 10th overall pick in the 2012 WNBA draft and played overseas for three years before returning to her alma mater as an assistant.
“It was great being able to see LaSondra receive such a prestigious award, when you think about all the greats that come through not only LSU but the SEC,” Fargas said. “Every day I had a great challenge in coaching someone like LaSondra Barrett because she had greatness in her.”
Barrett and the rest of the SEC Women’s Legends will be recognized during the SEC tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, which begins March 2.