As a loose ball eluded her grasp and bounced out of bounds for yet another turnover, LSU freshman guard Danielle Ballard slapped the unfriendly object in disgust before she headed back up court.
It was a moment that typified Sunday’s game for the Lady Tigers against a Tulane team that simply refused to stay beaten.
The Green Wave rallied from seven points down with six minutes left in regulation to force overtime, then fought back from a pair of five-point deficits in the extra period to pull out yet another dramatic victory over LSU, this one by a 66-64 score at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Tulane improved to 7-1 with its third straight win over LSU (4-3), all decided by a combined total of seven points.
Overall, three of the past four between the Lady Tigers and Green Wave have gone to overtime.
“A rivalry ain’t a rivalry unless it’s close,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. “It’s always going to be close. The program here is a real quality program, and this is a quality win for us.”
It was quality frustration of the first order for the Lady Tigers, who saw their three -game winning streak snapped.
“Tulane came out and played their game,” LSU forward Theresa Plaisance said. “They used everything they had and fought with all their hearts.
“It’s kind of frustrating how we fought back at the end, but things didn’t go our way.”
The loss wasted another impressive effort by Plaisance.
The junior from New Orleans recorded her third straight 20-point game and second double-double this season with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Plaisance also had eight blocked shots, one off the school record set by Cheri Graham in 1982 against Nicholls State.
But Plaisance picked up her fourth foul in the final minute of regulation and fouled out with 1:38 left in overtime with the Lady Tigers up 62-59, a disqualification that seemed material to LSU’s defeat.
Jamie Kaplan tied it 62-62 with a straightaway 3-pointer with 1:27 left, then Tulane took the lead with a layup by Tiffany Dale.
After Ballard lost the ball in the lane, University High’s Whitney Bibbins sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 10.2 seconds left.
“I was nervous at first, but I was able to shake out of it,” said Bibbins, who played before an enthusiastic rooting section.
Bibbins, required to play with protective headgear after missing last season with serious concussion problems, shared Tulane’s top scoring honors with Danielle Blagg, both tallying 13 points.
In a game that featured 11 ties and nine lead changes, LSU led 49-42 with 6:19 left on a drive by Ballard. Tulane tied it 53-53 in the final minute of regulation, the second by Brittany McDonald with 19.1 seconds left.
LSU had two shots at the win in the final seconds but was denied both times. Bianca Lutley’s drive to the basket was blocked out of bounds with 1.9 seconds left.
After officials reset the clock to 2.4 seconds, Jeanne Kenney hit Lutley with an in-bounds pass, but Lutley was unable to make the open jumper from the free-throw line as the horn sounded.
In overtime, LSU led 60-55 on a pair of Plaisance free throws and 62-57 on a basket by Lutley after a nice pass from Plaisance.
But a 7-2 Tulane run, plus Plaisance’s fifth foul, proved to be the difference.
Lutley and Ballard added 13 points each for LSU, but the Lady Tigers were hurt by a lack of offensive production from guards Adrienne Webb and Kenney. They were a combined 2-for-18 from the field, scoring three and two points, respectively.
The loss denied LSU coach Nikki Caldwell her 100th career win. She is 99-40 overall, 27-14 at LSU and 72-26 at UCLA.
LSU returns to action at 7 p.m. Thursday when it hosts East Tennessee State.
Tulane is off until 11 a.m. Jan. 19 when it hosts Louisiana-Lafayette.