LSU’s women’s basketball team finally produced its first signature victory of the season.
The Tigers just needed overtime to dot the i’s and cross the t’s Thursday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Khalya Porter’s desperation 3-point, shot-clock beating bank shot early in the extra period, served as a catalyst in LSU’s 65-61 SEC upset over previously undefeated and No. 7 Texas A&M.
“A lot of people tend to look over LSU because of the way our season started,” said LSU center Faustine Aifuwa. who had 16 points, 11 rebounds and three key blocks. “When we come out locked in, we’re very dangerous and unstoppable. This was a statement win.”
Aifuwa’s 5-foot floater sent the game to overtime at 54-all and then LSU scored the first five points in overtime. The Tigers (5-6, 3-2 in SEC) led by as many as five points at 63-58 on Tiara Young’s free throw with 15 seconds left. Pointer’s fast break layup with 3.7 seconds off a full court inbounds pass sealed the win after the Aggies hit a 3-pointer to cut LSU’s lead to 63-61.with 3.7 seconds remaining.
Young scored a career-high 20 points off the bench with Pointer adding 17 points, including seven in overtime, and six assists.
For Young, it was a satisfying reversal of fortunes after failing to convert a tough final shot in Sunday’s 64-63 home loss to Tennessee.
“It was very exciting how everybody contributed,” Young said. “After the loss to Tennessee we had to come back, shake back. We stayed focused and locked in. Knowing they are ranked, we stayed focused and with the mindset that the game’s not over until the clock hits zero.”
LSU, which won for the fourth time in the last five games in the series, shot 48.3 percent (28 of 48) and outrebounded Texas A&M 40-31. They also held the Aggies, who were averaging 81 points, to less than 70 points for the third time this season.
N’Dea Jones led A&M (12-1, 3-1) with 16 and Destiny Pitts had 12. Guard Aaliyah Wilson, the SEC’s reigning Player of the Year who was averaging 15 points, added eight points.
“We wanted to be particular with our shot selection (in overtime),” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “We had to go with a smaller lineup because Awa Trasi fouled out. We wanted to play as tough as we could on the other end because we had a size disadvantage. You can just go around (the team) and point out things that were positive that allowed us to win. I could pinpoint a lot of different players.”
Texas A&M outscored LSU 28-20 in the second half. But despite making just 3 of 10 shots and turning the ball over eight times in the fourth quarter, the Tigers still forced overtime.
The Aggies trailed by as many as 17 points in the second quarter. But with a 14-6 run capped by a Pitts 3-pointer with 49 seconds left in regulation, A&M grabbed a 53-52 advantage that was its first lead since 3:56 left in the first quarter.
Texas A&M extended its lead to 54-52 on Wilson’s free throw when Pointer penetrated and flipped a pass to Aifuwa for the game-tying bucket with 5.8 seconds left.
A&M’s final possession in regulation wound up in a turnover when Young broke up a pass.
LSU’s best first half of the season lost a little steam in the final four minutes of the second quarter when A&M reeled off a 9-0 run and closed to 34-26 at halftime.
Before that, the Tigers were shooting 68.2 percent (15 of 22) with balanced scoring from Young, Pointer and Aifuwa that built their largest lead at 34-17 advantage with 3:54 left in the second quarter.
Young, whose 17-footer beat the first-quarter buzzer for a 17-12 edge, touched off an 8-2 second quarter surge. But she went to the bench at the 9:12 mark with her second foul just after knocking down a 10-foot jumper.
Pointer and Aifuwa combined on a couple of screen-and-roll baskets. Aifuwa scored six of her nine points in the quarter, including a turnaround from the baseline to finish a 12-4 surge that made it 29-16.
Pointer beat the buzzer with a long 3-pointer from the top of the key and following a turnover, Sarah Shematsi found Ajae Petty inside for a basket capping a 17-5 LSU run to put the Aggies in a 17-point hole.