No. 4 Kentucky Pulls Away From Lady Tigers, 73-60

LSU's Danielle Ballard
LSU's Danielle Ballard
Associated Press
Bill Martin (@LSUBillMartin)
Bill Martin (@LSUBillMartin)
Associate SID

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Fourth-ranked Kentucky made all the plays down the stretch and converted its free throws in the final two minutes as the Wildcats handed the LSU women's basketball team its fifth straight road loss by a score of 73-60 in front of 6,428 fans on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum.

The Lady Tigers (12-8, 3-4 SEC) were out-scored 27-6 on bench points and couldn't make a crucial shot or get stop in the final minutes after cutting the deficit to two possessions with 1:57 to play.

Kentucky (19-2, 7-1) won its 34th consecutive home game and its 15th straight over a Southeastern Conference opponent. The Wildcats, who suffered their first SEC loss at South Carolina on Thursday, finally beat the Lady Tigers after falling twice by double-digits to LSU last season.

"They did an exceptional job of pushing the tempo and controlling the offensive glass," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "They gave themselves plenty of second and third opportunities. The last two minutes of the game, you could see the level of intensity rise in their ability to push the ball. You saw players making plays down the stretch. Defensively, we had opportunities but we weren't able to do it. Kentucky wanted it more than us."

Azia Bishop led a trio of double-figure scorers for Kentucky with 17 points. Samarie Walker contributed 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

LSU's Theresa Plaisance led all scorers with a game-high 19 points, marking her 19th consecutive double-figure scoring game. Adrienne Webb fired in 18 points, while Danielle Ballard matched a career-high with 10 rebounds. 

The Lady Tigers did a good job weathering Kentucky's press early and trailing only 31-26 at the break. Webb and Ballard ignited an 8-1 run and pulled LSU to within a point after the first official timeout of the second half. Webb had four straight during the spurt and Ballard climbed on the offensive glass. Her two free throws cut the deficit to 37-36 with 14:35 to play.

After struggling with a 39.4 percent effort from the floor in the first 20 minutes, Kentucky started making its shots. The Wildcats connected for a blistering 50 percent in the second stanza. Two big threes from Bria Goss and Janee Thompson answered LSU baskets.

Plaisance, who suffered from early foul trouble, used her size and kept the Lady Tigers alive, making two free throws. LSU trailed 56-51 with 6:01 to play. Bianca Lutley then was picked at midcourt and Ballard and Jeanne Kenney collided in an attempt to get back in transition. Kenney hit the floor and left the game for three minutes after suffering a badly bruised left shin.

She showed her toughness by returning at the 2:56 mark. That's when the junior converted a lay-up and later found Webb for a wide-open three from the left corner that put the Lady Tigers within striking distance, 64-60, with 1:57 left in the game.

LSU was unable to get a stop after that. Walker crashed the boards for a tip-in. She was later called for a technical foul, but Webb missed both free shots. The Lady Tigers trailed 67-60 in the final minute and Kentucky sealed the game at the free throw line.

"Their bench was just as good as their starters and it matched the tempo of their starting five," said Plaisance. "We did not finish off our defensive execution at the end of the game by not getting rebounds." 

LSU finished 34.8 percent from the floor to Kentucky's 44.3 percent.

The Lady Tigers return to the road at Auburn on Thursday. Tipoff from Auburn Arena is 6 p.m. CT and the game will not be televised.




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