Angel Reese’s 25 Points and 20 Rebounds Power No. 13 LSU Past Auburn, 71-66

Angel Reese controlled the paint, scored 25 points and pulled down 20 rebounds to lead LSU past Auburn on Thursday night. PHOTO By Michael Bacigalupi

Angel Reese showed up at the PMAC on Thursday night more motivated than usual, and Kim Mulkey and the rest of the Lady Tigers certainly reaped the benefit.

In fact, No. 13 LSU needed every ounce of Reese’s additional inspiration to fend off Auburn and avenge an earlier season SEC loss to those other Tigers from the Plains.

Reese scored 25 points and had 20 rebounds as LSU pulled out a 71-66 win over Auburn, overcoming Honest Scott-Grayson’s 28 points and season-high five 3-pointers and JaMya Mingo-Young’s 16 points.

All Mingo-Young’s points came in the second half as Auburn battled back from a 40-30 halftime deficit and stayed within striking distance of LSU throughout the fourth quarter.

LSU’s Last-Tear Poa finished with a career-high 13 points and made seven of eight free throw attempts including several key free throws late. Flau’jae Johnson added 11 points and six rebounds.

“It was a tough game, I mean, it was personal, obviously, because we lost to them the first time at their crib and them coming back in here,” Reese said.

“We knew what they had. They have five cigars. I mean, honestly, Scott-Grayson, she’s a pro, and she does what she does. She does it at a high clip. So, I think we did a good job in the second half containing her way better. And I just think we played together as a team, play defensively,” she said

LSU outscored Auburn 40-16 in the paint and had a 42-28 rebounding advantage but turned the ball over 23 times and Auburn scored 23 points off those turnovers.

LSU held Auburn to 38-percent from the field, its fourth consecutive game holding its opponents below 40-percent. Free throw shooting played a role in the game as LSU, which leads the nation in free throw attempts and makes, was 23-27 from the charity stripe. Auburn was 11-16 at the free throw line.

“It is a good sign and we will find the positive tomorrow when we look at the film,” Mulkey said about the defense. “We will continue to show film on the things we have to clean up. We have to clean up turnovers.”

But LSU was not able to put Auburn away until the last five seconds of the game, largely due to the turnovers it committed.

“It certainly wasn’t easy,” Mulkey said.

“And they’re just so athletic. They’re so quick, lateral speed and quickness. Then they get up in you defensively. And when we get fatigued, we stop setting screens to get ourselves open. You’re not gonna dribble past them very often.

“Just a great game and I wouldn’t say a pretty game. But it was a great game. It kept everybody’s attention,” she said.

LSU started the second quarter making just 2 of 8 shots before making 6 of 8. Reese had 11 points and nine rebounds in the first half. Reese scored 10 points in the third quarter, going 6 of 7 from the free-throw line, to help LSU lead 58-49.

With 3:22 to play in the first half, Sydney Shaw hit a jumper to put Auburn up 30-28, the last time Auburn would have the lead.

LSU (23-4, 9-3 SEC) went on a 12-0 run led by Aalyah Del Rossario’s six points and Flau’jae Johnson’s fast-break pull up 3-point jumper as the horn sounded to end the first half.

Twice in the third quarter LSU increased its lead to 12 points – 46-34 on a Johnson layup with 7:52 left – and then less than a minute later with 6:57 to go when Reese sank both ends of a one-and-one to put LSU up 48-36.

But then Auburn (16-10, 5-8 SEC) went on a 10-0 run over the next 2:44 to trim LSU’s lead to two points, 48-46 at the 4:13 mark.

Hailey Van Lith’s two free throws with :32 left in the third period stretched LSU’s lead back to nine points at 58-49 heading into the fourth quarter but it remained a two or three possession game until the end.

“The last four minutes I didn’t do a very good job as a head coach, so that’s on me,” Mulkey said. “I thought, you know, that you could advance the ball (to inbound from halfcourt) on the second time out, but you couldn’t. So I wasted two time outs there, and then we turned it over. Didn’t execute something I wanted on the inbound. So, I’ll eat those four minutes.”

LSU will be back in action on Sunday at 11 AM central against Tennessee inside the Thompson-Boling Arena on ESPN. LSU will stay on the road against Georgia before closing out the regular season against Kentucky at home next Sunday, March 3rd.

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Todd Horne

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