COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 24 LSU defeated No. 7 Texas A&M 4-3 on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament for just the third time.
Down 5-2 in the third set with elimination hanging in the balance, LSU sophomore Skylar Holloway reeled off four of five games to push the match to a winner-take-all tiebreaker. She was trailing 4-3 in the tiebreaker but won four straight points to seal the semifinal berth 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-6 (4).
The Aggies were the second-highest-ranked team to fall to LSU since the 2000 team defeated No. 6 Pepperdine in the NCAA tournament. The victory was the fourth top-30 win this season, which ties for the most in school history.
In the semifinals at 11 a.m. Saturday, the Lady Tigers face No. 2 seed Georgia. The Bulldogs defeated Mississippi State in the quarterfinals. The Lady Tigers fell in Athens 4-0 earlier this season.
LSU dropped the doubles point, and Joana Vale Costa fell 6-4, 6-0 to Rachel Pierson to drop into a 2-0 hole. Skylar Kuykendall captured the first point for LSU with her 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 54 Rutuja Bhosale. The junior earned her 24th victory of the year; she leads the nation in wins.
Ella Taylor tied the match with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Eva Paalma. Abby Owens gave the Lady Tigers a 3-2 lead with a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-2 win over No. 47 Saska Gavrilovska. Texas A&M came back to tie it when Ines Deheza defeated Noel Scott 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
TIGERS IN SECOND PLACE: With sophomore Brandon Pierce firing a 3-under 67, the No. 7 LSU men’s golf team wrapped up Friday’s first round at the SEC championships five shots off the lead in second with a score of 6-under 274 at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Georgia.
The Tigers, runners-up to Alabama at the SEC tournament a season ago, also counted scores of 2-under 68 by Stewart Jolly, 1-under 69 by Eric Ricard and even-par 70 by Zach Wright.
Alabama is in first at 11-under 269. South Carolina and Auburn are a shot back of LSU in a tie for third.
On the individual side, Pierce is tied for fifth. Three golfers — Arkansas’ Kolton Crawford, South Carolina’s Matthew NeSmith and Alabama’s Robby Shelton — fired matching rounds of 5-under 65 to finish Friday’s opener tied atop the leaderboard.
NISTRUP LEADS THE WAY AT SEC MEET: In Birmingham, Alabama, LSU sophomore Caroline Nistrup dropped a 12-footer on the 18th hole for her third birdie of the second nine to finish at 2-under-par 70 to pace the Lady Tigers in the first round of the rain-plagued Southeastern Conference championships at Greystone Golf and Country Club’s Legacy Course.
The competition is tight after the first day, with No. 13 Texas A&M, No. 14 Tennessee and No. 19 Vanderbilt tied for the lead at 5-over 293. LSU is in another group of three tied for fourth at 11-over 299 with No. 19 Florida and No. 2 South Carolina.
Nistrup had a birdie on the par-5 third hole and a bogey on the par 5-sixth to turn at 36 but had birdies on the par-5 11th, the par-3 13th and the 18th hole to counter a bogey on the par-4 15th.
Nistrup is in a three-way tie for second with Justine Dreher of South Carolina, Bianca Maurizio of Texas A&M and Florida’s Taylor Tomlinson, three shots behind leader Jenny Hahn of Vanderbilt.
In the classroom
GREEFF, COURVILLE NOMINATED: Swimming and diving’s Frank Greeff and gymnastics’ Rheagan Courville are LSU’s nominees for the Southeastern Conference’s H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship.
The scholarship has been presented since 1986 to the conference’s top scholar-athletes.