Ever since the LSU women’s basketball team defeated Georgia on Jan. 24, both clubs have taken opposite trajectories.
The Lady Tigers are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, their past two coming against ranked opponents. On the other hand, the Lady Bulldogs have won four straight, securing their past two victories by double-digit margins.
LSU and Georgia now face a rematch, which tips off at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Lady Tigers (8-16, 2-9 Southeastern Conference) won the first meeting on the road by a score of 53-46, and they know the Lady Bulldogs (18-6, 6-5) will be out for revenge.
“When you beat a team, they are going to come in here looking for redemption,” senior forward Akilah Bethel said. “We can’t sit back and think that ‘Oh, we beat them already.’ We have to come out with the same focus and hunger that we had at their place.”
LSU upset Georgia with a depleted roster of seven scholarship players, a problem that still persists. Despite being shorthanded, four players scored in double figures as they won the rebounding battle 38-28.
Lady Tigers coach Nikki Fargas was particularly pleased with her team’s defense, which limited the duo of senior guards Tiaria Griffin and Shacobia Barbee to a combined 25 points.
“Our defensive scheme to try to limit their touches and bring some of that man-to-man concept into our zone offense really disrupted their timing,” Fargas said. “We were very good on the offensive glass. We took our time with our shot selection. We were able to then know when that shot was coming, so that allowed us to have even better rebounding position.”
The Lady Bulldogs, however, have been on a tear in the lpast two weeks. Since tallying its season-low in points against LSU, Georgia has averaged 65.5 points during its 4-0 run.
With the red-hot Lady Bulldogs coming to town, junior forward Alexis Hyder said she’ll be careful not diminish LSU’s roster even further by fouling out like she did in the first meeting. Hyder, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, is a versatile player who posted 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in that game.
“I don’t want to get the same repeated fouls,” Hyder said. “It will be about being smart and playing with my lower body and not my arms. I tend to clean house sometimes, and that got me in Georgia.”
The Lady Tigers didn’t have their usual Thursday night game on the schedule this week, giving the injury-stricken squad a much-needed respite. Bethel said the weeklong break “recharged” the team and gave it time to identify the shortcomings that have pervaded its losing streak.
Hyder listed the problems as such: offensive rebounds, transition defense and missed layups and free throws.
“When you have that bye week, it gives your team an opportunity to get an extra day or two of rest,” Fargas said. “We were able to also spend time on us and what we need to get better at, and not necessarily fast forward to the next opponent.”