The sight of the LSU women’s basketball team watching leading scorer Khayla Pointer struggle through a subpar game offensively is usually a recipe for disaster.
When Pointer returned to her native Georgia on Thursday and had three points in a game her team trailed by six points through three quarters, the Lady Tigers didn’t flinch.
Sophomore reserve guard Tiara Young continued her superb play during Southeastern Conference play and was among the reasons LSU delivered a season’s best 25-point fourth quarter and the Lady Tigers pulled away for a 60-52 upset of No. 22 ranked Georgia.
LSU coach Nikki Fargas, whose team is 7-7 and 5-3 in the SEC in a four-way tie for fourth place, hopes the momentum of the Tigers’ fast finish at Georgia carries over to Sunday’s 1 p.m. home game with Ole Miss (7-6, 1-6 in SEC).
“There’s a lot more basketball to be played, there’s a lot more growth for our team,” Fargas said. “I just like that we come out and compete. On any given night, no matter who we play, the one thing you’re going to know about our team is that we’re going to compete until the last second on the clock.”
The Tigers had to go to overtime on Jan. 4 before prevailing over the Rebels, 77-69. Ole Miss is on a five-game losing streak including a 68-67 decision against No. 20 Tennessee.
“We’re playing an Ole Miss team with great potential,” Fargas said. “They are not the same team we played at the very beginning of the season and took us into overtime. This conference is so competitive. I like the play of our team right now.”
The matchup will be streamed on the SEC Network Plus. It’s also the team’s annual Gold Game where fans are encouraged to wear gold for the game.
“I like the fact that we have players that are stepping up, that are stepping into the players that we knew they could be, the performance that we knew they could have and they’re doing that,” Fargas said. “This a tough conference that we’re playing in. This is a tough schedule for us this year.”
At Georgia, Young helped rally LSU with 12 of her team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter and the Lady Tigers finished the game on a 13-5 run, a stretch in which five different players – Pointer, Faustine Aifuwa, Karli Seay and Jailyn Cherry – all contributed to close out the game.
It was the eighth time this season LSU scored 20-plus points in a quarter, surpassing its previous high of 24 points in the third quarters against Loyola-Marymount (54-52 win) and Missouri (66-64 win).
Awa Trassi scored 13 points and grabbed a team-high 8 rebounds and Aifuwa added 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Pointer, who added a basket in LSU’s fourth-quarter surge, matched her season low of 5 points on 1 of 8 shooting, but still contributed 6 rebounds, 6 steals and 4 steals.
“I’m really proud of this team for players stepping up and taking ownership,” Fargas said. “This game’s not just about Khayla Pointer. It’s about Faustine and Awa Trassi stepping up. It’s about Tiara Young who’s been so solid for us. Karli Seay started the game, her and Awa Trassi getting us going offensively.”
LSU trailed Georgia 27-25 at halftime and 41-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
Young, who played in 31 minutes, converted a three-point play with 7:40 remaining for a 42-41 lead.
The fourth quarter was tied three times and Young converted the first of two three-point plays, the first of which gave LSU a 42-41 lead at the 7:40 mark. Her second three-point play snapped a 47-all tie with 4:46 to play for a 50-47 lead and extended the lead to 52-47 with 2:55 remaining with another jump shot.
LSU shot 67% (8 of 12) in the quarter and limited Georgia to 34.5% shooting for the game.
The Tigers were also efficient at the free throw line with 15 of 24 shooting – their second-highest number of made free throws this season – to go along with 12 steals which was the second-best effort this year.