No. 16 LSU women's basketball cruises at Auburn to rebound from loss to South Carolina

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Spurred by the scoring of point guard Khayla PointerLSU women's basketball rebounded from its loss to the top team in the country with a rollover win Sunday.

No. 16 LSU beat outmatched Auburn 76-48 at Auburn Arena, winning for the 14th time in its past 15 games.

LSU (15-2, 3-1 SEC) and coach Kim Mulkey bounced back three nights after losing 66-60 to Dawn Staley and No. 1 South Carolina at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge. Auburn (8-6, 0-3), which was playing its SEC home opener following losses at Missouri and Alabama, lost its third straight after closing nonconference play with a six-game win streak.

Avoiding a letdown after the near-miss against the Gamecocks, especially in a road arena after playing in front of nearly 10,000 at the PMAC on Thursday, was imperative for Mulkey.

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"We talked about that," she said. "I mean, that's part of coaching; that's part of preparing your players. We talked about if after the game, talk about it every day at practice."

Pointer responded by LSU with a game-high 24 points, one off her season high against Missouri State and six shy of her career-high against Florida Gulf Coast in the 2019-20 season. She shot 9-of-14 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range.

It wasn't that, though, that seemed to impress Mulkey nearly as much as the defense LSU played. Auburn made just 15-of-62 shots, including only 1-of-13 from 3-point range.

"I'm big on field-goal percentage percentage defense," Mulkey said, "We want to keep them under 39.9. … We kept them to 24.2% from the field. If you can do that, you're gonna win a lot of games or be in a lot of games."

Pointer, who has scored in double-digits in seven straight games, also had a game-high 10 rebounds and six assists. Hannah Gusters added 13 points for LSU, and Faustine Aifuwa had 10.

"(Pointer) made some beautiful passes today, and really should have had a triple-double," Mulkey said. "(We) just missed too easy shots that she gave her teammates."

LSU went cold for a stretch late in the opening half, but it led by 19 at the break despite going 0-of-8 from the field and 1-of-11 from 3-point range before halftime.

LSU led 26-8 after a first quarter in which it shot 63% (12-of-19) from the field and scored 16 of its points in the paint. Pointer, who went into the game averaging a team-high 17.4 points, had nine of her 24 points in the quarter. Up 40-21 at halftime, the Tigers extended their advantage to 61-41 after three quarters and to as many as 30 points with just less than six minutes left.

LSU, which opened SEC play with a road win over No. 14 Georgia followed by a home win over No. 23 Texas A&M, before losing to South Carolina returns to the PMAC to play Missouri on Thursday (7 p.m., SEC Network+) and Vanderbilt on Sunday (noon, SEC Network).

Mulkey, in his first season at LSU after 21 at Baylor, considers it a key stretch for a team still trying to prove itself to her.

"You've got to go on the road, if you want to be a good team, and you've got to steal some victories," she said. "So, we've done that. We've gone on the road on and we've won two. Now what we've got to do is we've got to protect home court, and we're aware of that."