Bounce-back game? No. 10 LSU women’s basketball returns to state of Alabama following second setback of season

Tigers, Crimson Tide seperated by one game in SEC standings

LSU women's basketball lost freshman Janae Kent to the Aggies in the transfer portal. PHOTO BY: Michael Bacigalupi

During her weekly radio show that originated from her home because of cold and icy conditions, LSU coach Kim Mulkey said that her 2012 national championship at Baylor that went 40-0 encountered its share of difficulties.

“You don’t think we had bumps in the road? That doesn’t mean we had a perfect season,” Mulkey said Tuesday.

A year after flying through their first 23 games without a blemish, the Tigers find themselves looking to bounce back from defeat for the second time this season following Sunday’s stunning 67-62 loss at Auburn.

“A loss is a loss no matter how it happens,” Mulkey said, “but you pick yourself back up, you regroup, and you go back at it.”

No. 10 LSU (16-2, 3-1) travels to Alabama (15-4, 2-2) for league play at 8 p.m. Thursday at Coleman Coliseum. The game will be carried by The SEC Network and broadcast locally over 107.3-FM.

“We have to learn and it’s not going to happen overnight,” Mulkey said. “We have lots of  basketball left to be played and I hope lessons were learned by individual players the other night. Don’t wait for somebody else to do it, you go do it. Hold yourselves accountable.”

LSU was held to a season-low point total, shooting 41.8% from the floor and 64% (16 of 25) from the free throw line. In addition to being scoreless from the 3-point line (0 of 2), Mulkey said her team missed 12 layups in addition to nine missed free throws.

“While we did respond we didn’t respond for four quarters,” Mulkey said. “I don’t know if we’re just immature and don’t understand that every possession matters. I don’t know if it’s because we have new pieces, and they haven’t been in that situation before. All the goals we have for our team are in front of us. … Lot of basketball to be played. If you left that game and you don’t feel bad about your individual performance, then you won’t help get better and hopefully we did.”

LSU made up a 23-15 deficit after the first quarter and outscored Auburn, 22-11, for a 37-34 halftime lead.

Mulkey commended Auburn’s energy that never flickered, undoubtedly fueled by a record crowd of 7,720.

While first team All-America forward Angel Reese had a game-high 24 points with 11 rebounds, and Aneesah Morrow also had a double-double with 12 points and game-high 15 rebounds, the Tigers weren’t able to compliment their interior scoring from the outside.

The trio of Mikaylah Williams, Hailey Van Lith and Last-Tear Poa, who averaged 31 points coming into the game, combined for 12 points on 4-of-19 shooting against Auburn.

“We had opportunities and that’s the hard part,” Mulkey said. “You only lost by five and think about the opportunities you had even when you were struggling.”

LSU, which is in a three-way tie for second in the SEC, is led by Reese in scoring (20.14) and rebounding (11.50), both of which rank her in the top three in the league. Morrow follows in points (18.28) and rebounds (9.67), both of which rank her in the top six in the league, while Williams is eighth in scoring (16.33).

Bama, coached by Louisiana native Kristy Curry, relies heavily on its long-distance shooting which ranks third in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (35.4) and 3-pointers made per game (7.53).

Graduate Sarah Ashlee Barker, a Georgia transfer, is the league’s seventh-ranked scorer (16.44) and fourth in field goal percentage (53.3). Aaliyah Nye leads the league in 3-pointers made per game (3.32).

“We’re going to have to defend the three,” Mulkey said. “That’s not easy to do but I think we’ve proven we can do it. We did it against Missouri. It’s a different style of play. They don’t spread you out as much as Missouri did. It’s going to be another tough battle. Don’t expect this game to be any different than all of them. They’re going to be hard. You’ve got to play very tough and you’re on the road, you’ve got to take the approach when the game starts, you’re down 10-0.”

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William Weathers

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