The word of the day for the LSU Lady Tigers was rebounding.
They went out Monday night trying to bounce back from their first loss of the season — a 65-62 overtime defeat Saturday at Tulane that was in many ways self-inflicted. One of the reasons the Lady Tigers lost were they were outrebounded, 39-34, by the smaller, less-experienced Green Wave.
Outmanned Arkansas-Pine Bluff proved to be just the right tonic for LSU, as the No. 20-ranked Lady Tigers set a record for fewest points ever allowed in a half on their way to an 80-28 cakewalk before 2,914 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“This group was challenged,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said, “to come out tonight and really take the things we really wanted to focus on the offensive end and defensive end and execute them well.
“It’s early, and we’re going to continue to grow and learn. The most important part of all of this is that they need to understand that we need to play LSU basketball.”
Whether the Lady Tigers (3-1) are yet playing at a level that will satisfy their first-year coach, whatever brand of ball they played Monday was more than good enough to beat their winless opponent from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
LSU used an overwhelming 42-4 run to take a 47-8 halftime lead, UAPB’s eight points setting a record for scoring futility in a half against the Lady Tigers.
LSU’s lead might have been more had freshman forward Krystal Forthan been able to make a dunk just before halftime.
Guard Jeanne Kenney stole the ball near midcourt and made an outlet pass to Forthan, who was wide open. The 6-foot-4 forward couldn’t quite get the ball over the rim and ended up committing a foul, keeping the score 47-8 at intermission.
“How about Krystal trying to dunk the ball?” Caldwell asked with a broad smile as she began her postgame remarks.
Forthan, the top player in Caldwell’s first recruiting class, said she once dunked in seventh grade, though she didn’t say if it was on a 10-foot goal.
She also vowed to keep trying.
“I’m going to make it next time,” said Forthan, who finished with four points and four rebounds in her first career start. “I’m going to do it on somebody.”
“Krystal gives us her ability to rebound,” Caldwell said, explaining her decision to start Forthan. “That’s an area where we have suffered.
“She’s such a fantastic player and will be one of the best players to play this game. She and LaSondra (Barrett) are our Batman and Robin. Those two together have the ability to take over a game and put the team on their backs.”
Barrett, LSU’s senior forward, led all scorers with 14. Adrienne Webb, last season’s leading scorer, had 12 points off the bench while Theresa Plaisance added 11.
All 11 LSU players who suited up scored. LSU outscored UAPB 46-6 in the paint, had 46 points off the Golden Lions 35 turnovers, outrebounded the visitors 52-29 and outscored their bench 50-5.
About the only bright spot for UAPB, which lost previous games at Nebraska, San Diego State and Memphis, was the 3-point shooting of junior guard Lakendra Marsh. She was 3-of-7 behind the arc and finished with 13 points.
LSU returns to action at 7 p.m. Tuesday when Northwestern visits the PMAC. The Lady Tigers opened the 2010-11 season with a 71-62 loss to Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.
A moment of silence was observed before the game for Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna. Budke, the former women’s head coach at Louisiana Tech, died along with Serna and two others Friday in a plane crash in Perry County, Ark., while on a recruiting trip.
The LSU Lady Tigers allowed eight first-half points against UAPB on Monday, setting a school record. The mark shaved a point off the old record which was set against four opponents:
LSU, fewest points allowed (any half)
8 – vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Monday (first half)
9 – vs. Alabama, SEC Tournament, March 3 (first half)
9 – vs. Centenary, Nov. 15, 2009 (first half)
9 – vs. McNeese State, Dec. 20, 2006 (first half)
9 – vs. Alabama State, Dec. 7, 2002 (second half)