No. 11 LSU believed it had distanced itself from Tulane midway through the third quarter, opening up as much as a 15-point lead with less than three minutes remaining.
The Tigers, though, had to withstand a run from the homestanding Green Wave to close out the quarter and transfer guard Jasmine Carson played a big role in enabling the Tigers to pull away a quarter later for a 85-72 victory Sunday before 1,592 at Devin Fieldhouse.
“We came out the third quarter and pretty much were in control of the game and then they go on a run,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “But we weathered it. We will continue to get better. I didn’t think it was a great defensive game. Their style of play sucks you in and doesn’t allow you to have really great team defense.”
LSU improved to 9-0 first the first time in 13 years heading into a break from action for final exams. The Tigers, who defeated Tulane for the fourth straight time, host New Orleans at 2 p.m. on Dec. 11.
Carson had a career-high 21 points, including a personal best four 3-pointers, and tied for team scoring honors with fellow transfer Angel Reese. She registered her ninth double-double to begin the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while fellow transfer guard Kateri Poole added 11.
“Coming to Tulane and many an LSU team’s come in and left defeated,” Mulkey said. “I was proud of that fact, I thought we took their best shot in the third quarter, and we’re going to go home and get ready for finals.
“Shooter’s shoot, she was big,” Mulkey added of Carson. “She hit clutch shots for us, even when the shot clock was winding down. You don’t want them to ever stop shooting. Without her we don’t win today.”
LSU made 52% of its field goals to build a 40-28 halftime lead with Reese and freshman Sa’Myah Smith each scoring 10 points in the half.
A second-chance basket from Reese accounted for LSU’s biggest lead – 59-44 – with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter when Tulane (5-3) went on a 11-0 run and trailed, 61-58, going into the fourth quarter.
The Green Wave made 75% of their shots (12 of 16) and outscored the Tigers 31-20 in the quarter with Rachel Hakes, Dynah Jones and Marta Galic draining consecutive 3-pointers to end the quarter.
Jones finished with a career-high 25 points to lead Tulane, which shot 47%, and Galic added 21 points on the strength of four 3-point baskets.
LSU regained a double-figure lead (73-62) with 5:01 remaining on Reese’s two free throws. The Tigers never allowed their lead to below nine points (81-72) when LaDazhia Williams scored on a putback with 45 seconds to go and Alexis Morris added a free throw with 22 seconds left.
Carson scored 10 of her career-high points in the final quarter, including three of her four 3-pointers, to help LSU to make 60% (9 of 15) of its shots from 3-point range.
“A lot of people got beat across the country,” Mulkey said. “We survived and we won. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got nine new pieces in there. We’ve just got to get better.”
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