LSU women's basketball scorches Western Carolina, drops 100 once again
BATON ROUGE – LSU's nonconference schedule was never going to present many challenges for Kim Mulkey's revamped women's basketball roster.
But the Tigers (3-0) have impressed despite the softness of their schedule, lighting up the scoreboard all three times out, including Sunday's 107-34 win over Western Carolina (2-1) inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
It marked the second time in program history with a three-game stretch of at least 100 points, the last time coming during the 1995-96 season.
The wins have been a given, but the real story has been how quickly Maryland sophomore transfer Angel Reese and freshman guard Flau'jae Johnson have carved out roles on a team with nine new faces.
"We're getting better," LSU coach Kim Mulkey said following the win. "You may not can see it as a fan or media person, but I can see things that we stress and emphasize and we're doing that.
"I'm blessed to have depth. Depth is what we did not have last year but we have depth this year."
SETTING EXPECTATIONS FOR LSU WBBExpectations for LSU women's basketball in year 2 under Kim Mulkey: Deep NCAA tournament run?
Angel Reese extends double-double streak
The sophomore forward's 17-point, 15-rebound performance against the Catamounts gives her three consecutive double-doubles to open her stint with the Tigers.
Reese secured the double-double late in the second quarter against WCU. She's averaging 21.3 points and 14.3 boards per game.
Flau'jae Johnson's takeover potential
During a 10-second stretch late in the first quarter, the freshman drew three consecutive fouls, hitting six straight free throws. Pushing the ball after turnovers, the 5-foot-10 standout attacked the paint and forced the defense to make decisions. She scored 10 points in the first quarter alone.
During the third quarter, Mulkey was liking what she was seeing out of her star freshman.
"It was probably after she made that unbelievable pass to Angel running the floor, how fired up she got and Angel got an and-one. I was just saying (to her), 'isn't that fun?'" Mulkey said. "You don't have to score a basket to be a great player, for the crowd to acknowledge you. You don't have to score a basket to be All-SEC or Freshman of the Year. It's everything you bring to a floor in a game whether it's a charge, getting a steal, making a great pass.
"Just developing a freshman's all-around game and make her understand who big that is."
She finished with a game-high 18 points.
First look at Alisa Williams is a good one
What depth looks like at the post for LSU remains a viable question a couple of games into the season. Senior starter LaDazhia Williams missed the Western Carolina game, and freshman Alisha Williams was available for the first time this season after sitting out the first two games due to a hip injury.
The first look at Alisa Williams was encouraging. The 6-2 freshman displayed a soft touch in the paint along with some nice footwork as she recorded 10 points in her college debut.
She's got ideal size, and Mulkey looks to have another asset in the post behind Angel Reese and Sa'Myah Smith.
LaDazhia Williams' status
Senior forward LaDazhia Williams, who started the first two games, did not play against WCU as Mulkey confirmed that she woke up Sunday morning with flu-like symptoms.
Mulkey and LSU won't need her to play until closer to SEC play starting up in December, given the easier nonconference schedule, but how much time Williams misses will need to be monitored.
Free throw shooting could be better
Even after her team dropped a program-record 125 points in the season opener two games ago, Mulkey still wasn't pleased with her team missing 13 foul shots.
The Tigers shot 30-for-41 (73%) against the Catamounts, which is a solid rate.
LSU has gotten to the line consistently this season with its aggressive offensive mindset against softer opponents. But when the games get harder, the Tigers will need to be more locked in at the free-throw line.
"Let's be fair, we're not playing in the SEC right now," Mulkey said. "We understand who our opponent is and not to take anything away but we're bigger, faster and stronger and you should be shooting that number of free throws against who we've played. We know that's not going to happen against tougher competition.
"The good thing about right now is building confidence. You're making mistakes in a game that can be corrected when the SEC does roll around."
Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.