Lady Tigers fend off Missouri, 74-65

Matt Dunaway
LSU's Danielle Ballard. Photo by LSUsports.net.

The LSU women’s basketball team rode Danielle Ballard and Raigyne Moncrief as the duo put together a 14-5 finishing kick over the last four minutes, which enabled the Lady Tigers to capture a 74-65 victory over Missouri on Monday evening at the Maravich Center.

LSU (12-9, 6-3 SEC) went ahead by as many as 20 points during the opening minutes of the second half, but Missouri (12-10, 2-7 SEC) amassed a 27-6 flurry to briefly take a one-point lead.

“I saw a team that did not waver from the fact that it was the ball game again,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I saw a team that had enough in them to push the lead to 20 in that first segment of the second half. Although we gave that lead away, I never once felt that the team was not prepared to go down the stretch and win the basketball game. They have shown that they can put together great defensive efforts in a matter of minutes, and they did just that. Again, a lot of credit goes to Missouri for fighting back and getting back into the game. We are going to take this game and this situation and move forward from it, but we also are going to have to remember it and recoil it.”

Ballard and Moncrief combined for 23 of LSU’s 32 points in the second half. The win was LSU’s fourth straight over Missouri as SEC opponents and vaulted the Lady Tigers back into a fourth-place tie in the SEC standings.

Moncrief went off for a season’s best 21 points, her third-highest scoring output in a LSU uniform. She registered 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting during the second half and is the fourth LSU player to surpass the 20-point barrier this season.

Ballard worked her way to 16 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. She secured her second double-double on the season and was a crisp 8-of-11 at the free-throw line. Ballard has dished out 19 assists over her last four appearances.

Rina Hill turned in 10 points, three assists and three rebounds over her 25 minutes of action. She reached double figures for the third time on the season.

LSU’s post play was sparked by Sheila Boykin and Anne Pedersen, who chipped in nine points apiece. The Boykin-Pedersen combo was an efficient 7-of-14 from the floor and handed out five assists. Akilah Bethel picked up six rebounds and two steals, while Stephanie Amichia added two points coupled with four rebounds.

As a team, LSU came away with a 26-for-63 shooting effort, which included a 4-for-11 mark from beyond the 3-point arc. The Lady Tigers were 18-of-30 at the charity stripe but nailed 12-of-17 at the line during the second half. LSU also ripped off 20 of the game’s 26 points off turnovers.

Missouri was led by Jordan Frericks who racked up a game-leading 23 points and 12 rebounds. Juanita Robinson and Michelle Hudyn notched 13 and 10 points, respectively, off of Mizzou’s bench. Morgan Eye, the SEC’s leading 3-point threat entering the game, was held without a basket as she misfired on all three of her field goal attempts.

With the score knotted at 60-60 at the 4:20 mark of the second half, Ballard used a crossover dribble to get into the lane and hit an off-balanced layup. She was fouled and converted on the free throw for the traditional three-point play.

Next, it was Moncrief’s turn to burry back-to-back midrange jumpers deep into the shot clock to give LSU a 67-62 advantage with 1:42 remaining.

Down the stretch, LSU’s defense forced Missouri into an empty possession six of nine times, highlighted by a trio of turnovers and salted the nine-point victory away with a 7-for-8 effort at the free-throw line during the last 67 seconds.