Danielle Ballard is now officially LSU’s ultimate woman of steal.
Ballard made her first swipe Sunday with 13:07 left in the first half of the Lady Tigers’ NCAA tournament first-round game with Green Bay, then added another before halftime to give her 95 for the season.
Her effort broke the record she shared with former LSU All-American Marie Ferdinand, who had 93 in 1999-2000.
A freshman from Memphis, Tenn., Ballard has had at least one steal in 31 of LSU’s 32 games this season.
This is the second straight year for LSU to host the early rounds of the tournament and the fifth since the NCAA went to predetermined sites in 2002. If LSU senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar has her way, it certainly won’t be the last.
The NCAA this year rescinded its rule limiting teams to hosting two years out of three. LSU is bidding for a third straight year of starting the tournament at home in 2014.
“Obviously any time you can host, it’s an advantage for our team,” said Segar, LSU’s senior women’s administrator and a former Lady Tiger. “So as long as we feel like we’re in good shape to be in the tournament, we’re looking at every year.”
Though no one expects schools to be given unlimited hosting runs, the rule was changed primarily because there were few sites out west that were bidding. That’s why Gonzaga is a host school for the third straight time this year.
And there is a chance the NCAA will revert to giving the home sites to the top 16 seeds, as was the case in the first 20 years of the tournament.
There was a chance earlier this season that LSU might be hosting without the Lady Tigers being able to play. They were 13-10 in early February before coach Nikki Caldwell threatened the players with having to sweep the court and serve water to the other teams if they didn’t make it.
“I knew we had our work cut out for us at that point.” Segar said. “But I knew how well our team was capable of playing. So I really wasn’t sweating it.”
During Penn State’s 85-55 win over Cal Poly, NCAA President and former LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert appeared in a public-service announcement on the Pete Maravich Assembly Center scoreboard.
When they saw his image, members of the Penn State band began booing lustily. Emmert handed down unprecedented sanctions against Penn State athletics last year in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
Green Bay band members wore cheesehead hats Sunday, the kind made famous on fall Sundays by fans of Green Bay’s slightly more famous sports team — the Packers.
Meanwhile, LSU players stepped out in gold or purple shoes, while Caldwell debuted leopard print high heels.
LSU made 9 of 14 3-pointers Sunday, besting its previous season high of seven made 3-pointers. ... LSU won its 40th NCAA game in 22 appearances. The Lady Tigers are 40-21 overall, 3-0 against Green Bay and 8-0 in first-round games at home. ... LSU’s Theresa Plaisance had 16 points, her 31st straight in double figures.
Advocate sportswriters Scott Rabalais, Ted Lewis and Matthew Harris contributed to this report.
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