LSU women expect challenge from La. Tech

Advocate staff photo by LIBBY ISENHOWER -- LSU's Theresa Plaisance defends against East Tennessee State's Brianna McQueen on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by LIBBY ISENHOWER -- LSU's Theresa Plaisance defends against East Tennessee State's Brianna McQueen on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Switching from four-guard, one-post lineups to more traditional two-post, three-guard sets, the LSU Lady Tigers have been trying to find the best on-court combination for victory.

The Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters are merely trying to find their way.

This year’s LSU-Tech game doesn’t find either program at its Final Four-playing, national championship contending best.

LSU is 5-3 entering Sunday’s 2 p.m. game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Lady Tigers come in off their first double-digit win of the season, a 76-42 romp Thursday over East Tennessee State. Tech is 4-5, rallying in the final minute Friday for a 61-59 win over Oral Roberts in Ruston.

Close wins have been the norm for the Lady Techsters, who beat McNeese State 52-50, Ole Miss 57-54 and Central Arkansas 65-63. So have blowout losses. Tech was routed at home 82-58 by South Carolina, 77-26 at Texas A&M and 73-46 against Rutgers in New York.

Despite the Lady Techsters’ struggles, LSU coach Nikki Caldwell has been interested in keeping the rivalry going since her arrival last season.

“It is very important,” she said. “Historically, La. Tech is one of the best programs in the country.”

Historically, but not today. That doesn’t mean the Lady Techsters won’t challenge LSU.

“Their team is going to come in here very hungry, a team that gets after you on the defensive end,” Caldwell said. “Watching film on us, there are areas where we have been challenged — on dribble drives or close-outs. That’s a strength of theirs.”

LSU’s biggest strength continues to be in the low post with 6-foot-5 junior forward Theresa Plaisance. On a night in which virtually anything the Lady Tigers tried offensively worked, the SEC’s leading scorer (18.4 points per game) strolled to 16 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots, giving her 14 in the past two games and 28 for the season.

Plaisance got significant help inside from 6-4 Shanece McKinney, who returned to the lineup and scored eight points while pulling down a game-high nine rebounds. Freshman forward Derreyal “Tank” Youngblood, had the best game of her young college career, coming off the bench with 13 points and five rebounds.

“Derreyal is a player we’ve got to get some minutes to,” Caldwell said. “She has a presence on the low block.”

LSU is expected to regain the perimeter presence of 5-9 senior guard Adrienne Webb on Sunday. Webb was held out of the ETSU game as a precaution after suffering a concussion last Sunday against Tulane.

Kelia Shelton, a 5-8 sophomore guard, leads Tech at 12.8 points per game. Brittany Lewis, a 6-2 senior forward, averages 11.7 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds.

Notes

Plaisance has one more block than McKinney had to lead the team all of last season. … LSU leads the series 13-12, with the Lady Tigers having won the past seven. … The game will be televised on CST and can be heard locally on 107.3-FM. … LSU wraps up its six-game homestand with games Wednesday against Grambling and Friday against McNeese State.