LSU’s women’s basketball team (1-0) will get its first true challenge of the young season when perennial NCAA tournament team Florida Gulf Coast visits Sunday at 12:30 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers (1-0) opened the Coach Kim Mulkey era last Tuesday with an 82-40 win over Nicholls. Guard Khayla Pointer became the third player in program history to record a triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds and center Faustine Aifuwa went over 1,000 points for her career. All five starters for the Tigers recorded double-digit points, led by Center Hannah Gusters’ 19 in her LSU debut.
“We’re going to have to take a lot of shots to be able to score or we’re going to have to be very selective and use up the shot clock, depending on who we play,” Mulkey said.
Florida Gulf Coast (2-0) features one of the active winningest coaches in Carl Smesko (582), who is in his 20th season at the school and who trails Mulkey (633) in career wins.
Florida Gulf Coast is known for shooting three-pointers, making 14 of 50 in their season opening win over Florida Memorial. In Friday’s win over Temple, FGCU was 8-36 from 3-point range..
“We pretty much feed off of our defense,” Pointer said. “You see us, we’re out there flying around like little gnats. We’re trying to get some steals. As soon as we get the ball, on offense we’re going. We go off of our defense. Breaking on passing lanes, making sure we’re pressuring the ball, things like that usually force turnovers and we’re going the other way.”
With FGCU’s tallest player standing at 6-1, LSU has a size advantage, but the Tigers’ bigs such as Aifuwa, Gusters and Autumn Newby will be forced to play more perimeter defense than they are typically used to.
“My lineup can change every game depending on who we play,” Mulkey said. “Our next game, oh you’re fixing to see threes coming out of the woods, so how are we going to defend that with our bigs? It’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Kierstan Bell is Florida Gulf Coast’s top player who averaged 24.3 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.9 steals for the Eagles last season. She was the ASUN’s Player of the Year last season and was selected as the Preseason Player of the Year heading into this season. TK Morehouse is another standout player for FGCU who was an All-ASUN First-Team player a year ago with 17.7 points, 4.0 rebound, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Former Tiger Karli Seay joined FGCU this season as a graduate transfer and has averaged 9 points throughout the first two games of the season, shooting at a .412 clip.
FGCU was picked by the ASUN Media and Coaches to win the conference this season. The Eagles are coming off their seventh all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and will provide an early season test for Coach Mulkey and the Tigers.