The LSU women’s basketball team has experienced more than its share of early-game disasters. This time the Lady Tigers were dishing it out.
LSU throttled visiting Arkansas’ 3-point-shooting machine and spread the scoring around on offense Thursday night in a 71-34 victory at the Maravich Assembly Center.
Three times at home the Lady Tigers have fallen behind by double digits in big Southeastern Conference losses, including a 33-point loss to Mississippi State two games ago.
But LSU won its second consecutive game and propelled itself into the NCAA tournament conversation with its biggest SEC victory of the season.
“We’ve been losing games in the first five minutes, so we put an emphasis on making the first punch and not getting into a hole and having to claw back the whole game,” said LSU point guard Khayla Pointer, who had 10 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals.
“Defensively, we were locked in,” said forward Ayana Mitchell, who had 21 points and 17 rebounds. “We did what we were supposed to do at the very beginning. I give a lot of credit to our guards they had a big assignment and did a very good job.”
LSU improved to 14-8 and 5-5 in SEC play. The Lady Tigers find themselves in a three-way tie for sixth in the SEC with Auburn and Arkansas (16-8, 5-5).
All 10 LSU players scored at least one point and four in double figures, led by Mitchell’s 11th double-double this season and 22nd of her career. Shanice Norton added 13 points and reserve Karli Seay a career-high 10 as LSU collected 16 assists spread among six players.
Norton played an even greater role on defense, helping to hold the Razorbacks without a 3-point basket for the first time in more than six years. Arkansas entered the game averaging 26.7 attempts and 8.4 made 3-pointers in SEC play but went 0 for 10. The last time they failed to hit a 3-pointer was Feb. 3, 2013, against Mississippi State (0-10).
Norton spent most of the night guarding Arkansas’ best long-range shooter, Chelsea Dungee, who managed only one attempt. Arkansas Shot 26.5 percent for the game (13 of 49).
“She’s a great player. She can shoot it, penetrate, step back, cross over,” Norton said. “It’s just a matter of staying in front of her. We talked about it in practice. Everyone has weaknesses. It’s a matter of using what you know about them to make them mess up.”
LSU coach Nikki Fargas said the plan was to control three different areas.
“We had to control their transition 3s and make sure we fanned out,” Fargas said. “We did a good job of hustling with our transition defense. We wanted to go over their ball screens and force them into the two (point) game, and to keep them off the glass so they couldn’t rebound and kick it out to the 3-point shooters.”
LSU dominated the glass with a 46-26 advantage.
The Lady Tigers were on Arkansas from the start. A 10-0 run in which four different players scored expanded their lead to 16-3 in the first quarter.
The onslaught continued in the second quarter as LSU denied the Razorbacks their beloved 3-point shots and continued to score toward a 36-10 halftime lead.