As she walked off the court Sunday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, LSU forward Theresa Plaisance heard a fan in the crowd of 2,813 shout a number her way.
Plaisance was puzzled.
“Twenty-eight points,” the fan explained.
Plaisance indeed went for 28 points Sunday to lead an 81-73 victory over N.C. State, the highest point total by an LSU women’s basketball player in nearly three seasons. But Plaisance, who had 21 of those points in a brilliant first half, said she wasn’t keeping track.
“I actually wasn’t even aware of my stats,” she said. “I had no idea how many points I had.”
Connecting on 11 of 17 shots from the field, Plaisance became the highest-scoring Lady Tiger since Allison Hightower poured in 29 against Auburn late in the 2009-10 season. The junior from New Orleans also had a game-high seven rebounds and three steals.
Her efforts in the first half — a 9-for-12 showing from the field, including her first 3-pointer of the year — helped get LSU out to a 47-38 lead and ultimately opened up second-half scoring opportunities for her teammates.
Freshman point guard Danielle Ballard finished with 16 points, including three on a buzzer-beater at the end of the first half. Adrienne Webb had 15 points, including seven in the first three minutes of the second half.
LSU (4-2) won its third straight game as it tipped off a season-long six-game homestand.
“I like Theresa being aggressive for us right out the gate because she’s going to command the attention of the defense, and that gives our guards a little leeway,” coach Nikki Caldwell said.
Plaisance inherited a go-to role after LSU lost five seniors from last year and returned a team with little experience inside. She hasn’t backed down from the challenge. Through the season’s first month, Plaisance was LSU’s leading scorer at 15.8 points.
“When you’re guarding Theresa, it’s hard to cheat a play, it’s hard to overplay her because she’s just so savvy,” N.C. State coach Kellie Harper said. “She is very good at reading defenses and taking what you give her.”
Plaisance scored six straight points midway through the first half, capping an 8-0 run that brought the Lady Tigers back from an 11-6 deficit and gave them a lead they would not relinquish.
But the pivotal moments came during a five-minute stretch that sandwiched halftime. Right after N.C. State used an 8-0 run to get within two, LSU quickly ran off seven straight points to finish the half. Ballard’s 3-pointer put LSU up nine at halftime.
Then, with Webb finding the hot hand, the Lady Tigers opened the second half with nine more points in the first three minutes. LSU eventually led by as many as 19.
Marissa Kastanek paced N.C. State with 15 points, followed by Myisha Goodwin-Coleman with 13 and Kiana Evans with 10. The Wolfpack shot 52.0 percent and went 9-for-19 from 3-point range, but Harper’s team couldn’t overcome the 25 turnovers LSU created.
N.C. State only got off 50 shots from the field. LSU, which shot 49.2 percent, had 65.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Harper said. “You can’t shoot 52 percent from the field and lose a basketball game. You have to give yourself a chance.”
Plaisance fell a basket shy of the 30-point plateau but attempted only five field goals after halftime. She missed from close range in the final minute.
“They started being a lot more physical with me, denying me,” she said. “When they shut down the inside game like that, that’s when we try to go outside.
“We play inside-out. If I don’t have it, I’m looking to kick it out because we have versatile guards who can knock down 3s from anywhere on the court.”
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved