The No. 25 LSU women’s basketball team returned to the PMAC Tuesday morning to a crowd of screaming elementary and middle schoolers at the annual Field Trip game.
The Lady Tigers (8-1) didn’t disappoint the crowd of more 6,000 children, defeating Nicholls 63-32 in a dominating performance.
“It should get you fired up and motivated to come out and perform and know that every single thing that you do is magnified through their eyes,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “They’re going to cheer louder for you. It’s great to have this environment for our student athletes to participate in as well as Nicholls State’s team to be a part of.”
This is the first game this season against an in-state opponent that the Lady Tigers have truly taken over. LSU had close wins against Tulane (59-54) and Southeastern (62-52) in November.
LSU opened Tuesday's game on a 6-0 run and never looked back. Even after going on a two-minute scoring drought early in the first quarter, the Lady Tigers still went on a 10-0 run in the last seven minutes of the quarter to lead 14-4.
“I would just say it was the momentum,” LSU forward Ayana Mitchell said. “We’re going to try to play hard and our defense kind of leads to our offense in a way. You can always tell when we’re not playing defense, the game is really slow. When we start to pick up the pace on defense, the game becomes a lot faster and we’re able to get our transition game going. The identity of our team is becoming that fast-paced tempo, and I think we’ve remembered to do that more times than not.”
Mitchell had a season-high 21 points on 9-of-9 shooting from the field and added four rebounds. Guards Khayla Pointer and Mercedes Brooks each had nine points apiece.
Brooks has excelled off the bench for the Lady Tigers, a unit that has struggled during stretches this season. Fargas praised Brooks for her ability to come off the bench and knock down shots as well as be everywhere on defense.
“I think we’re a lot more positive,” Brooks said. “We’re coming off the bench knowing our role. Like (Rakell Spencer) said yesterday, my role is to play defense so that’s what I’m going to stick to. I think everybody is just locking into what they do best and that’s helping us a lot.”
Nicholls struggled on the offensive end of the court as LSU alternated between a full-court and half-court press. No Nicholls player scored in double-digits, but forward Chrystal Ezechukwu led the Colonels with eight points and 11 rebounds.
Despite what was as close to a complete game the Lady Tigers have played this season, Fargas said they still have a long way to go. She felt like there were stretches in the game where LSU did not play to its fullest potential.
The Lady Tigers shot 42.4% from the field and Fargas emphasized the offensive execution needs to be better. She also said ball security was an issue after LSU turned the ball over 18 times.
“We’ve still got a lot of things to work on and the season is so long,” Pointer said. “We’re just trying to focus on what we do best while we’re strengthening our weaknesses right before we head into SEC play.”