With the objective of winning long in the hand the only drama remaining for No. 15 LSU was whether the Tigers would hit the century mark for the fourth straight time.
That answer took longer than it’s been customary to come into focus when freshman Alisa Williams scored on a second-chance opportunity with 19 seconds showing in the Tigers’ 101-47 victory Wednesday over Houston Christian.
LSU (4-0) played in front of 12,498 fans, many of which were school-aged children from local middle and elementary schools, for its annual ‘Field Trip Game’ at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“I don’t know if those (local) kids made us play the intensity and focus,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey, who is 30-6 at LSU in her second season. “I don’t know if it’s the other team which we had much respect for. That group won their league (Southland) last year, they have international kids, they’re well coached. I felt a different vibe today, that vibe you look for from your team on the defensive end of the floor, showing me, they’re getting better collectively. It was an enjoyable game to coach. I just saw some good stuff.”
LSU has never scored 100-plus points in four consecutive games. The Tigers shot 53.9% from the field and outrebounded Houston Christian (1-2), 53-28.
Sophomore transfer Angel Reese produced her fourth consecutive double-double with a game-high 29 points and 16 rebounds. She was 13-of-23 from the field in 33 minutes of playing time.
The Tigers had five players in double figures with transfer guard Jasmine Carson scoring 21 that included three 3-pointers, with Alexis Morris, Flau’jae Johnson and LaDazhia Williams all scoring 12 points.
“It’s always great to hit 100 on opponents,” Carson said. “We were really locked in on the defensive end. We didn’t really care about, ‘Oh, let’s hit 100 every game’. Let’s just improve each game and each possession. That’s what really mattered.”
Transfer guard Kateri Poole was appreciative of the larger-than-usual crowd for an 11 a.m. tipoff.
“To have those kids there cheering us on, just being able to see us perform. I think we fed off that,” Poole said. “We just wanted to make it fun for them and handled business.”
LSU doubled up Houston Christian 80-40 with 7:24 remaining on Morris’ 3 pointer, extended that margin to 50-plus points (93-42) on Johnson’s 15-footer with 3:24 left.
The only question became was whether or the Tigers could reach 100 points?
Johnson sparked a 10-0 run with five points and reserves Ryann Payne and Amani Bartlett combined for seven points that made it 99-44 with 1:16 left.
HCU, which combined for 27 points after a 20-point first quarter, was led by Julija Vujakovic’s 18 points. The Huskies were limited to 25.4% shooting overall and made 8-of-24 3-point shots.
Reese matched her season’s scoring average of 21 points with a free throw with 3.5 seconds left in the third quarter for a 74-37 cushion.
She scored seven of her team’s 25 points, all from the interior, and the Tigers scored the last nine points of the quarter capped by Reese’s free throw.
Reese reeled off seven consecutive points during a two-minute stretch of the third quarter, converting assists from Morris, LaDazhia Williams and Johnson into field goals, building LSU’s first 30-point lead (65-35) at the 3:02 mark.
“I only coached one kid that could get her own miss better than anybody,” Mulkey said of Reese. “She stayed with the play and Angel does that.”
Carson scored six of her 11 points during a five-minute span that fueled LSU’s 24-0 blitz during the second quarter that led to a 46-25 halftime advantage.
Houston Christian showed some fight in the last three minutes of the opening quarter, slicing LSU’s 20-8 lead to 22-20 by quarter’s end.
The Huskies shot better than 55% from the field and made four 3-pointers to remain within striking distance.
An inside basket within a minute of the start of the second quarter from LaDazhia Williams triggered LSU’s 24-0 run which included Carson making her third straight 3-pointer of the half and Reese adding four straight points. The Tigers had seven different players contribute during the surge with Morris scoring her first points of the half on back-to-back jump shots that accounted for a 46-23 lead with 44 seconds left before halftime.
“We responded in a way where we learn,” Mulkey said. “You learn every time you get out on that floor. This game can humble you, but the good thing about this game is you better move, and you better have a quick, forgetful memory. I just thought everything about today was good. Crowd was good, the kids loved it. Our players loved it. I loved our defense.”