LSU likely would have had a hard time winning its semifinal game in the Maui Invitational on Tuesday night with a complete roster.
The Tigers were ready to go just one night after shocking Michigan, but their plans of making it two upsets in as many nights took a big hit 30 seconds into Tuesday night’s semifinal matchup with No. 13 Notre Dame.
Guard Brandon Sampson was injured early when he went up for a shot and came down on the foot of Notre Dame All-American forward Bonzie Colson. Sampson rolled his left ankle and never returned after going to the locker room for X-rays.
From that point on, nothing seemed to go right for LSU in a 92-53 defeat at the hands of Notre Dame in the Lahaina Civic Center.
Actually, it started before the injury as the Tigers couldn’t connect on their first three field-goal attempts and snared the offensive rebound each time only to misfire again.
They eventually missed their first four shots — a sign of what was to come.
The humbling loss came less than 24 hours after Tigers coach Will Wade said his program “turned the page” with a dramatic two-point win over Michigan.
LSU (3-1) will complete its Maui trip against Marquette (2-2) in the third-place game at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Notre Dame (5-0) will battle No. 6 Wichita State (4-0) for the tournament title at 9:30 p.m.
“Obviously, it’s a tough night for us,” Wade said. “They’re a phenomenal team. We were outclassed in every way and we have to respond the right way.
“Disappointing result, and we obviously didn’t play very well,” he said. “I was disappointed in our effort. It’s a quick turnaround, so we’ve got to get going.”
LSU will get a chance to do that Wednesday night, but the Tigers will have to do it without Sampson. He will be out at least a few weeks with a high-ankle sprain, but Wade said X-rays showed no fracture.
Sampson's loss was felt early and often considering he was going to be called on to try and slow down Notre Dame point guard Matt Farrell, who was averaging 18.3 points per game after getting 27 in Monday’s quarterfinal rout of Chaminade.
“Well, it deflated us,” Wade said of Sampson’s untimely injury. “I thought that first possession was pretty much indicative of the game. We got two or three offensive rebounds and couldn’t get the ball in the basket. He goes down.
“He’s one of our better players, so it hurt us defensively,” he said. “We were going to use him on Farrell a little bit to give us some length, and it didn’t work out.”
In addition to being without Sampson, who averaged 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in LSU’s first three contests, three of the stars from one night earlier — Tremont Waters, Skylar Mays and Aaron Epps — struggled.
That trio combined for 19 points and was just 6 of 24 from the field, with Waters and Mays, Wade’s two starting point guards, totaling seven of LSU’s season-high 17 turnovers.
On the other side, Notre Dame got off to a hot start when LSU couldn’t hit and Sampson went crashing to the floor.
The Fighting Irish piled it on early and got 55 points from Colson and guards Matt Farrell and T.J. Gibbs — two more than the entire Tigers team had.
Gibbs, a 6-foot-3 guard, got Notre Dame off to a good start and hit a pair of 3-point baskets in the first three minutes.
Farrell connected on two deep balls as well for a quick 15-7 lead before Gibbs completed a three-point play for the Fighting Irish’s first double-digit lead at the 12:23 mark of the first half.
Gibbs finished with 26 points on a 9-of-15 shooting night that included six 3-pointers in 10 attempts, while Farrell and Colson had 17 and 12 points, respectively. Colson also led Notre Dame with 11 rebounds.
LSU shot a season-low 36.5 percent from the floor and was just 6 of 23 from 3-point range for 26.1 percent.
Duop Reath was the only LSU player to crack double figures with 17 points and six rebounds, while Mays, who was 3 of 10 from the field, had eight points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Waters, who scored 21 points in the win over Michigan, had just eight on a 2-of-7 shooting night and Epps, who came off the bench Monday night for 14 points, was 1 of 7 shooting for three points.
“We rushed a little bit,” Wade said of the poor shooting night. “When they started barraging us from three, we tried to answer with quick threes instead of just working inside. We got a little bit discombobulated there; that hurt us. I did a poor job preparing our team.
“I mean, Notre Dame is a phenomenal team. They’re a Final Four-caliber team. They shoot it, and they’ve got great poise. They play with unbelievable pace. It would have taken a very good effort from us to win tonight — with or without Sampson.”
Tournament at a glance
At Lahaina Civic Center
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
All Times Central
Game 1: Marquette 94, VCU 83
Game 2: Wichita State 92, Cal 82
Game 3: Notre Dame 83, Chaminade 56
Game 4: LSU 77, Michigan 75
Game 5: Wichita State 80, Marquette 66
Game 6: VCU 83, Cal 69
Game 7: Michigan 102, Chaminade 64
Game 8: Notre Dame 92, LSU 53
Seventh-place: Cal vs. Chaminade, 1:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Fifth-place: Michigan vs. VCU, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
Third-place: LSU vs. Marquette, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Championship: Notre Dame vs. Wichita State, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)