The LSU women’s basketball team has gradually cured itself of its tendency to start slow offensively. Still, the Lady Tigers have some gaps to fill.
Getting a consistent effort throughout the game and throughout the roster is the goal as LSU returns home to play Tennessee at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU (4-5, 2-1) split back-to-back road games against Ole Miss and Alabama, respectively, and was in position to win both. The Alabama game was a two-point game midway through the fourth quarter of an eight-point loss.
“We’re doing some really good things earlier on, but still playing with one quarter not being effective offensively,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “We have to have multiple players show up, not just Khayla (Pointer) and Faustine (Aifuwa).”
Fargas cited a need for consistency from players such as Awa Trasi and reserves Karli Seay and Jailin Cherry. Trasi, a starter who was expected to help fill the scoring void after Pointer and Aifuwa, has scored only 16 points in three SEC games and shot 6 for 22.
One player who has answered the bell is talented sophomore Tiara Young, who struggled to get on the floor last season. Young is the third leading scorer with 8.1 points per game but has responded to the SEC schedule by averaging 12 points and contributing as a rebounder with 17 in the past three games.
“Tiara Young has stepped up and been a difference maker,” Fargas said. “Coming off the bench she’s been a big spark. She’s playing into the Tiara we know she can become. She takes a lot of pressure off of Khayla because she can create her own shot. She has a great midrange jumper.
“When we have Karli Seay and Jailin Cherry locked in, not only defensively they create havoc but offensively, they give us something. I’m not pleased with our inability to rebound. I’m challenging them to be better. We’re averaging 10 more field-goal attempts but not making them. We’re spotting teams a plus-10 in the rebound column. That can’t happen. That’s an area we’ve got to improve on immediately.”
That’s because rebounding is where Tennessee excels. The Lady Vols are No. 10 in the nation in defensive rebounding. On the offensive side, Rennia Davis is one of the league’s best.
“You have to know where she is at all times and keep a body on her,” Fargas said. “She has a limited offensive package when she’s not getting second and third opportunities. The reason she is so good is she gives herself a second and third opportunity and gets to the free throw line.
“We have to keep Davis off the boards. If you don’t get it, long as she doesn’t get it you’ve done your job. We have to rebound by committee — guards have to get in the mix and give us some help."
Tennessee (7-1, 1-0 SEC) is unranked but coming off an upset victory against No. 13 Arkansas on Thursday. It’s the only conference game thus far for the Lady Vols, who had their first two against Texas A&M and Kentucky postponed.
Davis is averaging 14 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Rae Burrell brings balance from the outside with a 17.8 scoring average and 44.4% from 3-point range (16 for 36).