For most of Monday night’s contest in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, the LSU women’s basketball team was competitive and feisty against No. 14 Texas A&M — but the Aggies ran away late for a 74-57 victory.
Texas A&M (18-5, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) led from the opening tip. While the Lady Tigers (13-9, 4-5) rallied and cut A&M’s lead to two midway through the second half, the Aggies closed the final 3:58 with a 13-1 run, expanding the margin to 17 points by the final horn.
“We can’t keep putting ourselves in an eight-, nine-point hole, or a double-digit hole, and expect to have enough to finish off a game,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I think that’s what happens to us: We fight so hard to either get back from a deficit or maintain a segment that we don’t have enough left down the stretch.”
For every offensive surge LSU staged, Texas A&M answered with a rally of its own. The Aggies took control in the last four minutes, hitting eight of their final 11 shots.
“Our intensity dropped off a little bit. We lost the drive that we had,” senior guard Adrienne Webb said. “We’ve got to make sure that we come for 40 minutes for each and every game.”
It didn’t help LSU that junior forward Theresa Plaisance, who came into the game leading the SEC with an 18.2-point average, didn’t hit her first field goal until the 16-minute mark of the second half.
Plaisance missed her first seven shot attempts and finished just 3-for-13 from the floor.
“Today, the shots just weren’t falling for me,” Plaisance said. “I take full responsibility for this loss. ... I could’ve done a lot more.”
Caldwell put the onus on Plaisance at halftime, saying she needed her to put the team on her back if LSU were to have any chance to win.
“We expect a lot from Theresa, and she’s been someone that’s come through for us,” Caldwell said. “We hope to continue to challenge her because we didn’t see the best Theresa tonight. There’s so much more that she’s capable of giving.”
Webb provided the only consistent scoring punch for LSU, hitting eight of 16 shots to lead the team with 17 points.
The Aggies came into the contest leading the SEC in scoring margin, offensive field-goal percentage and defensive field-goal percentage in conference games. They mostly held true to their statistical averages.
The Lady Tigers shot just 36 percent from the floor, while the Aggies hit at a 48-percent clip. The 17-point margin of victory was about three points less than Texas A&M’s average.
Texas A&M junior forward Kelsey Bone, who came into the game as the SEC’s third-leading scorer, had a game-high 21 points — 16 of which came in the second half.
“I thought in the second half, Kelsey Bone really came on very strong for them and really established her dominance,” Caldwell said.
Junior point guard Jeanne Kenney left the game early in the second half with an injury to her left knee. Kenney hit the floor hard and looked to be in a lot of pain before being helped off the floor.
Plaisance sounded sure that Kenney would be available for LSU’s next game, but Caldwell did not want to give a prognosis, saying that she will continue to be evaluated.
“Losing (Kenney) was crucial,” Plaisance said. “She’s our voice on the court.”
Plaisance finished with 11 points, her 21st consecutive game finishing in double digits.
It was the first in a tough series of home contests for LSU, who will welcome No. 12 Tennessee and No. 9 Georgia to the PMAC in the next week.
“At this point, we have no room for error,” Plaisance said. “We’re scrapping for wins right now. At this point, it’s do or die.”