The LSU Lady Tigers won a hard-fought game against SEC West rival Texas A&M 63-52 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Sunday.
Although the Lady Tigers won the game by double digits, the score does not quite do justice to how close the game truly was. There were 14 total lead changes and the score was tied seven times. Up until the garbage time minutes of the game, the biggest lead of the game was six points by LSU.
The physical first half was highlighted by the defensive prowess of each team. Neither team shot over 40 percent from the field. Neither team made a single 3-pointer. LSU held a 21-20 lead going into halftime.
The second half was more of the same, but each team found a bit more rhythm on offense. Texas A&M finished shooting 39.2 percent from the field, while LSU finished shooting 35.6 percent. A&M shot 12.5 percent from 3-point range, while LSU shot 20 percent.
LSU really performed well from behind the free throw line. They went 18-of-22, shooting 81.8 percent.
LSU got huge contributions from sophomore guard Khayla Pointer and junior forward Ayana Mitchell. Pointer finished the game with 22 points and 5 assists. She also went 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
Mitchell finished with a double-double, with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Junior guard Jaelyn Richard-Harris also scored in double digits, scoring 11 points. Senior guard Shanice Norton scored 9 points while grabbing 8 rebounds.
Two Lady Tigers were in severe foul trouble throughout the game. Sophomore center Faustine Aifuwa got two fouls early and had to play carefully for the rest of the game. She ended up with 4 fouls, but managed to avoid fouling out. Leading scorer Khayla Pointer also had 4 fouls in the game, but avoided fouling out as well.
She finished the game with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
It was a battle of dominant defenses, a battle that LSU won. LSU forced 21 turnovers while committing only 13. They forced 21 personal fouls, while committing 18. They finished with 13 steals, as opposed to Texas A&M’s 5 steals.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game did not come from any shot on offense, but on a defensive play. In the fourth quarter, with three minutes left, LSU held a three-point lead
Texas A&M had the ball, and like they had for most of the game, they had put the ball in the hands of freshman guard Chennedy Carter. She totaled 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Aggies' loss. They were leaning on her to drive them to victory.
She drove to the lane in an attempt to score. Mitchell jumped in front of her, drawing the foul, Carter’s fifth and final foul. Texas A&M was now without their best offensive weapon.
Energy was high in the PMAC. The LSU fans and players were all cheering. Texas A&M began to hang their heads. With three minutes left in the game, it was already over.
“That was cutting the head off the snake,” Richard-Harris said.
“Chennedy Carter is a great player,” Pointer said. “You just try to make it tough for her. She makes their team go. When Ayana got that charge it was a big momentum play for us.”
Texas A&M never held the lead again after that play. The LSU Lady Tigers took advantage and ran away with it, beating their first ranked opponent.
The crowd was definitely a part of this game.
“The crowd today was instrumental in us winning,” LSU Coach Nikki Fargas said. “They gave us a lot of energy. They were loud. The girls heard them. It fed our team.”
LSU prepares to travel to Oxford to face the Ole Miss Lady Rebels on Thursday.