The LSU women’s basketball team used a strong performance from its bench to cruise to a 96-35 exhibition win over Mississippi College on Sunday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

“This game today was really about ... taking some of the things that we talked about regarding our last game and trying to be better,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I felt like we accomplished that in many different areas. Not only did we defensively do a good job of extending our defense and our full court pressure, but I felt at the half court we did a nice job of getting deflections and steals as well. Offensively, when you can look at a stat sheet and you shoot a high percentage not only from the field, but you have a balanced attack from all of your players contributing in some form or fashion, this is definitely a step in the right direction.”

LSU had a 55-13 advantage in bench points: Stephanie Amichia, Jenna Deemer and DaShawn Harden each scored 14 points and combined for 14-of-19 from the field. Deemer had three assists, and Harden had three steals. Jasmine Rhodes added 13 points and three steals.

LSU’s starting unit was paced by Akilah Bethel, who had 14 points, six rebounds and five steals. Anne Pedersen added nine points and six assists. Rina Hill and Ann Jones each scored eight points.

“(Bethel) brings energy,” Caldwell said. “She’s quick, she’s fast, she’s athletic, she’s mobile. And she’s deceptive with her speed with the basketball. When she gets a rebound, she’s about as quick as our guards as far as pushing the tempo and getting the ball down the floor. That’s hard to defend.

“She does a nice job too of creating opportunities for herself to get to the free-throw line. She’s done that in both exhibition games. We were stressing to her and challenging her to get in the gym: Get those free throws because we need to make more of them,” Caldwell said. “I like her energy on the floor. She’s very quick to the basketball even defensively. We can play her in the top of our press. We can play her in the back of our zone. We can put her in the top of our zone. She’s just such a versatile player.”

LSU was 32-of-55; Mississippi College 14-of-47, including 3-of-24 on 3-pointers.

The Lady Tigers begin the regular season with five home games over an eight-day stretch, starting with Arkansas-Little Rock at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The game will be carried online by SEC Network Plus via www.WatchESPN.com, and on radio on WBRP-FM, 107.3.