Despite the Lady Tigers’ second-best offensive output of the season, LSU (2-3) was unable overcome a late scoring barrage by Rutgers (3-0) in a 64-57 loss in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday.
The Lady Tigers showed flashes of their potential throughout the first half of the Sue Gunter Classic.
Junior guard Akilah Bethel, sophomore guard Jasmine Rhodes and freshman forward Stephanie Amichia all finished the first 20 minutes with a perfect 2-of-2 shooting from the field.
Meanwhile, senior point guard DaShawn Harden turned the PMAC into her own classroom with roughly 12 minutes remaining in the opening half. The Olafe, Kansas, native hit three consecutive 3-pointers. before Harden’s run, LSU trailed Rutgers 11-10. The Lady Tigers led 17-14 when her final successful attempt landed.
But then Harden went silent, missing her next five shots.
Considering sophomore point guard Raigyne Moncrief’s early struggles, Harden’s missed shots proved to be detrimental.
Moncrief finished the first half with four points, two of which came from the free-throw line.
From the field, Moncrief hit only one of 11 attempts.
“I think Moncrief just needs to settle down,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I think she gets rushed, and she’s trying to put too much on her plate.”
As LSU’s guards struggled, Rutgers’ shooters began to find their rhythms. Sophomore guard Tyler Scaife, who entered Saturday’s contest averaging a team-high 19 points per game, came out firing against the Lady Tigers, hitting 4-of-11 from the field and finishing the first half with eight points.
Scarlet Knights’ junior forward Kahleah Copper also found success inside, hitting 4-of-9 shots from the field. Senior forward Betnijah Laney led both squads with nine rebounds in the first half.
Rutgers led 32-27 heading into the locker room at halftime.
LSU came back onto the court ready to mount a comeback, though. With the help of four quick points from sophomore point guard Rina Hill, the Lady Tigers took a 35-34 lead with 16:37 remaining.
It was the last time Rutgers trailed.
The Scarlet Knights went on a 12-3 run over the next three minutes as redshirt junior guard Briyona Canty began to take over.
Canty, who entered Saturday afternoon averaging 14 points per game, scored nine points in the final 16 minutes, giving Rutgers a commanding 61-48 lead with four minutes remaining.
On the home bench, Caldwell struggled to find consistency from her guards.
Moncrief failed to take a shot in the second half, finishing the afternoon with five points and one assist. Harden made only two second-half attempts from the floor, though she ended the contest with a team-leading 15 points.
“We had a lot of really good looks,” Harden said. “We were patient on offense. It just didn’t drop, unfortunately.”
LSU will head to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, this week for the Hardwood Tournament of Hope, beginning with its first contest being against Santa Clara at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Senior forward Sheila Boykin said the Lady Tigers need to mentally rebound before travelling out of the country.
“We have to keep moving,” Boykin said. “We are going to go back and watch film and see where our deficiencies are. We have no time to sit back and feel sorry about ourselves. We have more games to play.”