The LSU men's basketball team opened its slate of games Thursday on its tour of Spain with a hard-fought loss to the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic, which is 18th in the latest FIBA world rankings and is in Spain training for the upcoming World Cup, overcame a strong push by LSU in the fourth quarter to take a 92-88 win over the Tigers in Madrid.
LSU, which trailed 74-65 early in the final quarter, got a three-point play from Emmitt Williams with 8:29 left to start the rally that almost carried the Tigers to victory.
Dominican Republic held a 72-63 lead after three quarters, but Will Wade's team crept back in the contest after the teams traded baskets to start the final quarter.
Starting with Williams' old-fashioned three-point play and a 3-point field goal by Darius Days with 7:47 to play, LSU went on a solid 20-8 run to make it a game.
The run was capped by a Marshall Graves' basket that gave the Tigers an 85-82 advantage with 2:42 to go.
But Dominican Republic closed it out by outscoring LSU 10-3 down the stretch — starting with a three-point play of its own going into the final two minutes.
Dominican Republic scored eight unanswered points for a 90-85 lead before LSU freshman Trendon Watford nailed a 3-point basket in the closing seconds.
But that's as close as LSU would get as Dominican Republic added a pair of free throws with 12.1 seconds remaining to walk out with a four-point victory.
LSU got off to a 19-8 lead early and held a 25-19 advantage after the first quarter before Dominican Republic bounced back for a 52-48 edge at halftime.
"I thought we got off to a great start, and then their physicality wore us down as the game went on," Wade said. "They're just older and bigger; we just wore down."
Williams, whom Wade said has had an excellent summer, scored a game-high 28 points for LSU and also led the Tigers with nine rebounds.
"I thought Emmitt played really well," Wade said. "I was really proud of him.
"He was phenomenal. But outside of that, we were average at best."
Watford scored 18 in his debut with the Tigers, while veteran guards Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart, had 12 points each.
Eulis Baez led the winners with 14 points, while Victor Liz and Rigoberto Mendoza pitched in 13 each.
"I was proud of our guys; it was kind of what we did last year," Wade said. "We just hung around, hung around, hung around and we made a game of it.
"But we get out of the way late in the game and don't take a charge, then they take a charge on us late in the game. Those are the details that we really took care of in the past and really didn't take care of today."
LSU will next face the Valencia All-Stars at 10 a.m. CDT Saturday in Valencia. There will be no TV or radio coverage for the contest.