SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The LSU women’s basketball team implemented a new platoon system with Purple and Gold units and the Lady Tigers responded with a season’s high in points to claim a convincing 78-45 victory over UC Santa Barbara Friday at the Thunderdome.
LSU (5-5) broke its 10 players into two units and split up the action between the media timeouts. The Lady Tigers distributed 16 assists on their 30 field goals and had six players garner multiple assists. LSU held a 38-10 advantage in paint points and outscored UC Santa Barbara by a 36-12 margin in points off turnovers.
“I thought the groups were very competitive based on our practices over the last couple of days,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “When the players picked their teams, it gave us a good balance of experience in guard play and post play. It was really an opportunity for us to explore different looks especially on the defensive end because we knew we were going to have a wave coming in. The players knew they had to go hard for four minutes then I’m going to get sub. Then, I’m going to go hard for another four minutes and get another sub.”
The Lady Tigers were led by Jenna Deemer and DaShawn Harden who tallied 13 points apiece. The duo was a combined 11-of-17 from the floor. For Harden, she amassed 10 of her 13 points during the second half. It was her sixth straight game in double figures. The 13 points for Deemer was her second-highest career scoring output. She also equaled her career-highs with four steals and two assists.
Sheila Boykin chipped in 11 points on a 4-for-5 shooting clip, while Raigyne Moncrief tacked on 10 points and seven rebounds to give LSU four players in double figures. Boykin has racked up 10-plus points in three consecutive outings and four of her last five appearances.
The Lady Tigers also received eight points apiece courtesy of Akilah Bethel and Ann Jones. Bethel also hauled down seven rebounds. Making her first career start, Stephanie Amichia secured six points and five rebounds.
Rina Hill tallied four points, three assists and two rebounds in her return to the starting lineup. Jasmine Rhodes also filled the box score tying a career-high with four steals, a career-best three assists, two rebounds and two points.
As a team, LSU was 30-of-55 shooting which included a 4-for-7 mark from three-point territory. The 30 field goals and the 54.5 shooting clip were season-highs for the Lady Tigers. LSU also was 14-of-19 at the free throw line.
LSU raced out to a 19-6 lead at the 7:58 mark of the opening half. The Lady Tigers knocked down eight of their first 14 shot attempts. Boykin capped the flurry with three consecutive buckets which included layups courtesy of nice feeds from Deemer and Hill.
The Gauchos (0-10) closed the stanza with five straight points to draw back to 32-24 at halftime. Then, UCSB opened the second half with four quick points to make it 32-28 with 18:29 remaining.
LSU snatched the momentum back behind a Rhodes steal which led to a Harden layup in transition. That ignited 12 consecutive points as the Lady Tigers regained a 44-28 edge with 12:38 left. The Lady Tigers also received buckets from Amichia, Boykin, Deemer and Jones during the spurt.
Ahead 44-33 at the 11:29 mark, LSU ripped off 25 of the next 28 points over the next 7:13 off the clock to put the game away. The trio of Deemer, Harden and Moncrief accounted for 15 points during the run.
The Lady Tigers led by as many as 36 points inside the final minute and have won all four meetings over UCSB. Makala Roper picked up a team-leading 12 points to spark the Gauchos.
“We made sure that we corrected the shot selection problem that we had the other night at Long Beahc State,” Caldwell said. “We didn’t quick shoot the basketball. We were very patient and methodical in what we wanted to do. The other thing that we talked about with this group is what play action do you want to run. What do you want to run defensively? It’s really putting that ownership on the players to where they feel as though they’re in control. Ultimately, the players are in control. Tonight, I really wanted to make a point of emphasis on the players on watching and seeing things that we see. The feedback and the conversion between the two units were very positive.”