BATON ROUGE, LA. – The No. 12 LSU Women’s Basketball team defeated Vanderbilt, 82-64, to improve to 17-2 and 5-1 in the SEC Sunday afternoon in the ‘We Back Pat’ game inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Commodores played the Tigers tight in the first half as LSU went into the break with a 43-36 lead. LSU came out in the second half on fire though, making its first four shots and outsourcing Vanderbilt 23-9 in the third quarter to grow its lead above 20 points.
LSU had offensive production from all over the court Sunday afternoon. Faustine Aifuwa, who was 10-12 shooting the ball, and Alexis Morris (9-13) both had 20 points to lead the Tigers. Khayla Pointer finished with 17 and Jailin Cherry had 12. Cherry was one rebound shy of a double-double and she also led LSU with 8 assists. Pointer had seven assists.
”People talk about our guards,” Head Coach Kim Mulkey said, “as they should. Sometimes I think they don’t get enough credit on how good they are. When our post play becomes a factor with the guards, who do you stop? What is your game plan against LSU? I think it just makes us a more difficult team to defend.”
With Autumn Newby, LSU’s leading rebounder out, multiple Tigers stepped up on the boards. Awa Trasi, who started in place of Newby, had 7 rebounds as did Aifuwa, Khayla Pointer and Alexis Morris. Cherry
LSU shot the ball well at 58.3-percent and held Vanderbilt to 33.8-percent shooting. The Tigers made nine three-pointers.
“I look at field goal percentage defense first and we want to hold our opponents to 39.9 (percent),” said Coach Mulkey who’s team is undefeated when doing so. “We haven’t done that in every game. We’ve won some games where we didn’t do that. But if you can just always stress defense and you can always stress rebounding, I’m telling you, you’ll become a good coach.
“Maybe it’s who I learned from. We’re talking about Pat Summit, right? Pat Summit, one of the greatest teachers to ever teach the women’s game. You didn’t play for her if you didn’t play defense, you didn’t play for Leon Barmore if you didn’t play defense. That’s where I look first.”
Brinae Alexander finished with a game-high for Vanderbilt with 23 points. Kaylon Smith had 11 for the Commodores and Iyana Moore had 14 off the bench.
Morris scored LSU’s first two buckets, but each time Vanderbilt responded and took a 5-4 lead after an and-one finish from Alexander. Pointer went coast-to-coast when Aifuwa deflected a pass in the paint, picked up by Pointer. Aifuwa, who started in place of the injured Autumn Newby and made all three of her first quarter shots, scored her first points at the 5:46 mark in the quarter and then Cherry scored her first points to put LSU up, 12-7. With Vanderbilt playing a 2-2-1 press, LSU looked to push the ball up the court passing the ball. With just over two minutes left in the quarter, Pointer found Aifuwa for a three-quarter court pass that resulted in a wide-open layup against the press that put LSU ahead, 17-12. The Tigers led 21-15 at the end of the quarter. Morris had 8 points in the quarter on 4-of-5 shooting.
Ryann Payne scored her first points of the game on her first shot attempt to begin the second quarter. She made her second shot too, banking in a three from the right wing with 7:43 left in the half, but Vandy came right back and hit a three as well. Morris gave LSU a 31-22 lead, sinking her first three of the game and the Commodores took a timeout at the 6:43 mark. Aifuwa scored her 10th point and gave LSU its first double-digit lead of the game after Payne found her in transition on a fast break. Timia Ware entered the game with 3:40 left in the half when Pointer picked up her second foul. With Aifuwa picking up her second, LSU finished the half with Cherry, Payne, Morris, Amani Bartlett and Sarah Shematsi on the court. The LSU group scored four quick points, but Vandy’s Moore hit a three with time running down and LSU went into the half with a 43-36 lead. Morris finished with 18 first half points, but Vandy’s five three-pointers helped the Commodores keep it close going into the break.
Cherry and Pointer made LSU’s first four shot attempts of the half and the Tigers built their largest lead of the game lead to 51-36. Vanderbilt scored its first point of the half on a free-throw after Aifuwa picked up her third foul of the game. Aifuwa put LSU up 53-37, making her seventh shot on as many attempts, before being taken out because of foul trouble. She was quickly brought back in after a 7-0 Vanderbilt run. With Aifuwa back in the Tigers got back in rhythm and took a 57-43 lead into the media timeout. Pointer reached double-digits for the ninth straight game when she drove baseline for an open layup. At the 1:27 mark in the third Pointer found Tasi who hit an 18-foot jumper to give LSU a 64-45 lead before Vandy took a timeout. Out of the timeout Morris got a steal and hit Pointer on an outlet who finished on the other end to give LSU a 21-point lead, 66-45, that the Tigers took into the fourth.
After opening the game up in the third, LSU kept its foot on the gas throughout the final quarter. Shematsi hit her first three-pointer of the season to put the Tigers over 80 with 2:07 left in the game. Vanderbilt went on a late 7-0 run to reduce its deficit below 20 as LSU won, 82-64.
(LSU Media Press Release)