Back home, LSU gymnastics squad posts a victory

After being on the road for what seemed like forever, the seventh-ranked LSU gymnastics team was intent on showing their fans what they had been missing Friday night.

Like a perfect 10.0, the second in as many weeks for the Tigers, and rock-solid performances in the first two rotations on the vault and uneven bars that led to a 196.825-195.625 victory over No. 20 Arkansas.

Five weeks after its last home appearance, LSU built a comfortable lead halfway through the meet and cruised to the Southeastern Conference victory before 4,896 fans in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU athletes scored a 9.80 or better in their first 12 routines on vault and bars, which was highlighted by Sarie Morrison’s 10.0 vault, to get off to a solid start.

LSU (8-2, 4-1) led 49.400-48.875 after the first rotation and increased it to 98.725-97.675 after two before Arkansas (1-5, 0-5) rebounded a bit in the third, when the Tigers struggled on the balance beam with a 48.675.

But the Tigers rebounded in the final rotation and finished it off in style when the nation’s top-ranked floor exercise team posted a 49.425, which was capped by Lloimincia Hall’s 9.95.

“Gosh, we’ve been gone so long,” said LSU coach D-D Breaux, whose team was coming off four straight road meets. “The girls were tired, but they all came out and gave us 100 percent.”

LSU, which ranks second in the nation in vault, opened the meet with a 49.40 on that apparatus with six scores of 9.80 or higher — of which the top five counted toward the team total.

Sophomore Rheagan Courville cranked out a 9.95, which tied her season high, just before Morrison’s 10.0 brought the crowd to its feet.

Morrison became only the 13th gymnast in school history to post a 10.0 and the first in the vault since Ashleigh Clare-Kearney in 2009. Clare-Kearney’s perfect score had been the last one for LSU until Hall did it a week ago on floor exercise in a win at Missouri.

“It’s an honor to share this with Lloimincia,” Morrison said. “Going into the vault, I just wanted to do my thing. If I did that, I knew the landing would be there.”

The Tigers kept it up on bars, where their score of 49.325 was their second-highest of the season. After five scores of 9.80 or better, Morrison claimed her second event title of the night with a 9.90.

“The first two rotations were awesome,” Breaux said. “I don’t feel like we really did our best because you always want more.

“But I was extremely happy with that. You can’t ask Rheagan and Sarie to set each up any better in the vault.”

“We hadn’t competed here in a month, so we were excited to get back on our home turf and draw the crowd in with us,” Morrison said. “It was a lot of fun tonight.”

Courville, who went on to claim her fifth all-around title with a 39.525, credited the crowd with helping to spark the Tigers’ solid start.

“We always love competing in here because there’s so much energy and emotion from the crowd,” she said. “It’s always good when you get off to a good start like that at home.”