DULUTH, Ga. — Though the LSU Lady Tigers weren’t able to steal a victory from Georgia on Friday night in the Southeastern Conference women’s basketball tournament, freshman guard Danielle Ballard was able to steal her way into another part of the school’s record book.
Ballard recorded a steal in the first half of LSU’s 71-53 loss, giving her 93 for the season and tying the single-season mark set by former Lady Tigers All-American MarieFerdinand in 1999-2000.
Ballard already has the LSU freshman record well in hand. The mark had been held by Lady Tigers great Joyce Walker, who had 86 in 1980-81.
Ballard came into the game leading the SEC at 3.1 steals per game and ranked second nationally among freshmen behind UCF’s Briahanna Jackson (3.3). Ballard has had at least one steal in all 31 of LSU’s games — every game except the Lady Tigers’ Jan. 10contest at Arkansas.
LSU’s win over Auburn in Thursday’s second round was its 20th of the season. This is the 23rd 20-win season in school history and second in two years under Nikki Caldwell.
Caldwell has won at least 20 games in four of her five seasons as a head coach, including her last two years at UCLA. She went 19-12, 25-9 and 28-5 in Westwood before taking the LSU job in 2011.
The Lady Tigers went 23-11 last season, reaching the SEC tournament final and the second round of the NCAA tourney.
It’s up to the Lady Vols
With Vanderbilt getting eliminated by Kentucky 76-65 on Friday night, it will be up to regular-season champion Tennessee to continue a streak that began in 2004.
Either Vanderbilt or Tennessee has won each of the past nine tournaments. Vandy won in 2004, ’07 and ’09 while Tennessee has won the rest, including the past three straight.
The last team other than the Lady Volunteers or the Commodores to win the tournament was LSU, back in 2003 in North Little Rock, Ark.
Shaq featured in PSA
A public service announcement featuring former LSU basketball All-American Shaquille O’Neal aimed at combating binge drinking on college campuses aired during SEC women’s tournament games.
The PSA was filmed by students from Alabama, who garnered O’Neal’s participation after a student-generated Twitter campaign.
The 60-second PSA premiered Oct. 18 and also aired during the first quarter of January’s BCS Championship Game between Alabama and Notre Dame.
Same place, next year
The SEC women’s basketball tournament will return to the Gwinnett Center again next year. Tournament dates are March 5-9, 2014.
Next year’s tournament will be the fourth time the 13,000-seat arena has hosted this event. It also was at the Gwinnett Center in 2007 and 2010.
The last word
“The best day in basketball is this day, the quarterfinals. … It doesn’t get any better. If I’m a spectator, I want to see all four of them, and I will.”
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair after his team’s 61-52 quarterfinal win over South Carolina