Last-Tear Poa’s Emergence for LSU in Past 3 Games Has Been Key, according to Kim Mulkey

PHOTO BY: LSU athletics

LSU women’s basketball has won three straight games by double-digits after a brief two-game losing skid thanks in large part to the emerging play of Last-Tear Poa.

In Poa’s last three games she has played 27, 19 and 30 minutes. Her 30 minutes against Alabama were the most she has played

since Hailey Van Lith missed several games with a foot injury back in December.

She started the second half of the Alabama game after LSU trailed by 10 at halftime, the largest halftime deficit the Tigers had faced all season. After coming into the game, Poa and LSU’s full-court press sparked a turnaround. LSU went on to outscore Alabama 30-9 in the third quarter and won the game by 19 points.

Poa scored a career-high 11 points against the Tide and registered four assists and six rebounds, but her defense was the real difference maker for LSU. LSU outscored Alabama 54-25 in the second half thanks to her efforts.

“I think [Poa] is playing with a lot of confidence and the 11-press is what made me change the lineup,” Kim Mulkey said. “She is really good as the protector in the back of that press and when we pressed very little last year, I always wanted Poa in there instead of Alexis Morris. She just has great anticipation skills and she got to start the second half and then she did some things really, really good defensively that kept her on that floor. And that is Poa’s game. And when you’re confident, you want to stay on that floor and obviously your play dictates you stay on that floor.”

Van Lith played just 20 minutes against Alabama, her lowest in a game this season, and scored six points while shooting 2-for-6 from the field. However, Mulkey said she doesn’t see any reason to change the starting lineup moving forward.

“It doesn’t matter who starts,” Mulkey said. “I’ve said that from day one. People get so caught up into starting. Starting means nothing in my world. I want to be in the top eight and Poa is in the top eight. She’s always been in the top eight even when she’s not playing the type of ball that she is now. You want to be in the rotation. You don’t just go say ‘Ok, now because you did this go start and take Hailey out.’ What purpose does that serve?”

LSU’s next game is on the road against Texas A&M. LSU beat Texas A&M 87-70 in early January. Van Lith played 35 minutes in the first matchup and scored 14 points while making three three-pointers. Poa played just 12 minutes and scored three points. Angel Reese and Aneesah Morrow combined for 41 points and 26 rebounds.

“Morrow and Angel are two of the more athletic post players you’re going to see in the country together,” Mulkey said. “We may not be the biggest, but we’re very athletic.”

LSU’s games against Alabama and Texas A&M are separated by eight days and Mulkey has taken advantage of the long break to get her players rested up for the final stretch of the season. She said she hasn’t focused on scouting the Aggies over the break because the Tigers have spent their time focusing on improving themselves.

“We had a couple days off, and then we’ve been working on us,” Mulkey said. “A lot of transition defense drills again. Communicating, talking, halfcourt defense, can’t get enough of that. Just what you would think you would do during a bye week. If you’re focusing on yourselves, you’re working on you.”

LSU’s game against Texas A&M will be on Monday, Feb. 19 and is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. It can be streamed on the SEC Network.

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