There were some not so subtle similarities Wednesday night between the LSU Lady Tigers’ basketball game with Georgetown and LSU’s football game with Alabama on Nov. 5.
Lots of sticky, bone-crunching defense on both sides - and lots of field goal attempts sailing wide left and right of the mark.
Like in Tuscaloosa with the football team, the No. 20-ranked Lady Tigers emerged from this wrestling match with a victory, grinding out a 51-40 win over No. 14 Georgetown before a rowdy crowd of 4,599 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“This definitely wasn’t a game I would say come and watch for the offense,” said first-year LSU coach Nikki Caldwell, sounding a familiar, football-like theme. “Both teams played extremely hard.”
Hard, and at times hard to watch.
LSU (2-0) and Georgetown (1-2) combined for 49 turnovers (26 by the Lady Tigers) and just 31 field goals, including a combined 5-of-35 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Georgetown shot a chilly 24.2 percent from the floor, LSU 34.0 percent after hitting 61.5 percent in Monday’s 64-56 season-opening win at Wichita State.
The Hoyas’ effort was also tainted by bad free-throw shooting (7-of-17). LSU was 17-of-28 at the free-throw line but was outrebounded 49-42.
“It was physical on both sides,” said senior forward LaSondra Barrett, who led LSU with 11 points. “That’s part of basketball. You have to fight through that.”
Both teams hammered on each other throughout the first half, neither able to get more than five points clear of the other.
LSU took a 24-21 lead with 6.5 seconds before intermission on a pair of free throws by point guard Destini Hughes, who finished with 10 points. The Lady Tigers pressured the inbound pass and Jeanne Kenney came up with a steal, getting the ball to Adrienne Webb.
Webb immediately launched a long 3-pointer that fell short. Hughes fumbled the rebound but the ball went right into Barrett’s hands. Her layup just before the buzzer gave LSU a 26-21 halftime lead.
The Lady Tigers took their biggest lead to that point, 32-26, with 15:46 remaining when Hughes’ 3-pointer bounced high off the rim and back in. Georgetown tied it 32-32 with 13:43 left on a fast-break basket by Tia Magee, but it was the last basket the Hoyas would score for the next 10:25.
Georgetown scored just two field goals the rest of the way, while LSU went 8 of 10 at the free-throw line in the final 3-1/2 minutes to preserve the win.
“Scoring unfortunately for the last two games has been stressful for our team,” said Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, whose Hoyas were routed 72-53 Sunday at No. 10 Maryland. “We came out and played defense like we were supposed to, but we were unable to score in crucial opportunities when we could have taken the lead or made it close.”
Magee led all scorers with 12 points, while Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers was also in double figures with 10.
Forward Amanda Reese, a senior from New Orleans, had three points.
Caldwell was happy to get a win for her team that she is sure will look quite good on its résumé come NCAA tournament selection time. The Lady Tigers missed the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1999, a factor that helped prompt Caldwell’s hiring from UCLA.
Georgetown became the highest-ranked non-Southeastern Conference team LSU beat at home since knocking off No. 5 Ohio State on Dec. 10, 2006.
“For right now it’s a great win for the program,” Caldwell said.
“We have to make sure we do everything we need to do to prep for March Madness. It starts now. Georgetown is a team that will make a run for their (Big East) conference title and the NCAA tournament.”
LSU returns to action at 7 p.m. Saturday when it plays at Tulane. The Lady Tigers will have a pair of 7 p.m. home games next week: Monday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Tuesday against Northwestern.