The 41-point differential with her team in total control mattered little to LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey.
When Aneesah Morrow’s layup in transition was waved off because of a charging call, Mulkey came unglued and was whistled for a pair of technical fouls and was ejected for the first time in her 80-game LSU career.
The No. 7 Tigers managed the remaining 4:56 under associate head coach Bob Starkey running the team to an 81-36 victory Sunday before a crowd of 11,432 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“It was time,” Mulkey said. “I did get a lot of text messages from those that still love me, ‘Girl, you got an ovation for getting tossed’. He (official Timothy Greene) did the right thing. I’m not questioning that. I think I helped him. I said, ‘I’m not leaving, you better toss me’. It was like he had no choice and I appreciate it. I appreciate officials that know what you’re trying to do out there. I don’t appreciate bad calls. It’s part of coaching.”
LSU (11-1) extended its lead to 71-30 on an inside basket from Aalyah Del Rosario when Morrow drove to the basket against McNeese’s Karmelah Dean with just under five minutes to play.
However, Greene determined that Morrow charged into Dean, igniting Mulkey’s fuse. It was her first technical of the season, but LSU’s third-year coach had to be held back by 6-foot-6 first team All-American Angel Reese, who called for some help in deterring her 5-4 coach.
“She’s pulling me back and suddenly said, ‘Kramer come help me’,” Mulkey said of her son, who is normally seated in the first row of the stands. “It was precious. Moments like that, you’ll reflect on when you’re retired. Just fighting for my kid.”
Reese, who missed four games because of unspecified reasons, appreciated the fire of her coach.
“It was fun,” Reese said. “We have similar personalities. We like to win no matter the score. Of course, she’s going to fight for us and we’re going to fight for her. That moment was fun, and she knew we had her back, and she had our back.”
Reese was one of four players that scored in double figures and one of the two – the other being Morrow – to achieve a double-double.
Reese had a game-high 25 points and shared team rebound honors at 14 with Morrow, who scored 16 points. Freshman Mikaylah Williams scored all 14 of her points in the last 14 minutes of the game, including the team’s only two 3-pointers, and sophomore Flau’jae Johnson added 13 points and five steals.
LSU shot 43% (30 of 70) from the field, outrebounded Northwestern 50-26 and scored 52 points off the 30 turnovers they forced. The Tigers limited the Demons to a season-low point total and 24.4% shooting (11 of 45).
“As a team we’ve been starting pretty slow, and we can’t do that,” said Reese, who made 10 of 13 shots and 5 of 6 free throws. “And being able to pick it up as one of the leaders of the team, trying to punch first and that will make it contagious for everybody else on the team.”
Dean and Sharna Ayers combined to make 3 of the 4 technical four shots, but Northwestern (4-6) scored only one more point the rest of the way.
LSU outscored Northwestern State 10-1 following Mulkey’s ejection with Williams adding her second 3-pointer. The Tigers had five different players contribute with freshman Janae Kent adding a putback with 12 seconds for the final score and biggest lead of the game.
“We wanted to try and make it an ugly game and I think the PMAC would say we made it kind of ugly,” NSU’s fourth-year coach Anna Nimz said.
Ayres, a former LSU player, led NSU with 10 points on the strength of three 3-pointers, but the team’s leading scorer Jiselle Woodson (12.7) was limited to five points on 2 of 8 shooting.
Reese reached her double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds – through three quarters and LSU leading 60-26.
Morrow scored eight points and helped the Tigers outscore the Demons 26-11 in the quarter, including a 14-0 run over a three-minute stretch of the third quarter to make it 57-23.
It was during that span Williams ended her 0 of 8 shooting with a short turnaround in transition and had seven points in the last four minutes of the quarter, highlighted by a 3-pointer with two seconds left – for a 60-26 lead.
“Finally,” Williams said with a smile on her 3-pointer going through the net. “I had to wait (almost) four quarters.”
LSU went with a youthful look for the first three minutes of the second quarter which included four freshmen and reserve junior Amani Bartlett.
Once the Tigers went back to their conventional lineup, minus Johnson because of two fouls, Reese was the team’s one scoring constant. Her putback and nifty over-the-head shot gave the Tigers a 23-6 margin after her team had missed their last 10 field goal attempts.
LSU showed some full-court man-to-man pressure and a 1-2-2 alignment after made free throws to open a 29-9 advantage on consecutive steals. A layup from Reese’s layup came off a feed from Last-Tear Poa and Morrow capped a layup after a steal and assist from Poa with four minutes left before halftime.
Poa lead the Tigers with six steals and four assists.
The Tigers made 5 of 8 free throws, a combined effort from Reese and Del Rosario, to push their lead to 34-12 when Nia Hardison drained a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to go, drawing the Demons with 34-15 at halftime.
LSU scored the first 13 points of the game, led by Reese’s seven in the first four minutes, for a 13-0 lead after Morrow’s putback.
Reese was responsible for nine of her team’s first 13 with seven points and an assist to Poa on an in-bounds play.
A 3-pointer from Ayres finally broke the scoring drought from NSU which missed its first four shots and turned the ball over six times in the first six minutes, contributing to LSU’s 19-4 lead on consecutive drives from Johnson.
“What they did was very good,” Mulkey said of NSU’s ability to use the majority of the shot clock. “I thought we did some good things. I didn’t want us to start slow again. We pressed full court and on made free throws, we pressed in a 1-2-1-1 and we did it the entire game.
“That’s a first since I’ve been at LSU and I didn’t look at the score,” Mulkey said. “I’m looking at an opportunity to play a lot of people, get in better shape. We’re getting ready to go on the road. Let’s become the team today no matter what the score is. Let’s make it a full-court game.”
NOTES: Graduate point guard Hailey Van Lith missed her third straight game with a foot injury. … The Tigers travel to face Coppin State in Baltimore, Maryland, the hometown of Reese, on Wednesday at 5 p.m. CST