LSU Lady Tigers look to extend winning streak with tricky road test

Lady Tigers travel to face Florida Gulf Coast

It lacks the cache of Thompson Boling Arena or Cameron Indoor Stadium, but Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla., may be one of the toughest places in women’s college basketball for opponents to play.

Before suffering a 60-53 loss to Central Florida there last weekend, Florida Gulf Coast had the nation’s ninth-longest home winning streak at 16 in a row.

LSU (8-3) heads to Southwest Florida looking to hand the Eagles (6-5) their second straight home loss when the Lady Tigers face FGCU on Friday night in the first meeting of the schools. Tip-off is at 6:05 p.m.

Including a come-from-behind victory over McNeese State the last time out, LSU rides a season’s-best four-game winning streak, and the Lady Tigers hope to have reached six straight wins by the time they host Ole Miss on Jan. 3 to begin Southeastern Conference play.

LSU is back at home to play Grambling on New Year’s Eve in the nonconference finale.

All four of LSU’s wins during the streak came at home. In fact, the Lady Tigers have not ventured outside of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center since beating West Virginia and Florida International in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic.

Back in Florida for the second of three trips there this season, LSU (which faces Florida in Gainesville next month) looks to build on a 7-0 mark all-time against Atlantic Sun competition.

The Lady Tigers blasted East Tennessee State 76-42 at the PMAC earlier this season.

Such success Friday will be hard to come by given that FGCU, a former Division II power, has a record of 75-5 at home since jumping to Division I prior to the 2007-08 season. The Eagles were 13-0 in their home digs last season.

Although a relative newcomer to D-I hoops, FGCU has made the postseason every year since moving up the ranks.

The Eagles appeared in the WNIT four years straight before breaking through last year to make their fist NCAA berth and losing to St. Bonaventure as a No. 12 seed. They finished 29-3 overall, including the first 18-0 season in A-Sun history.

Karl Smesko, the only coach FGCU has ever known, was named the Kay Yow Coach of the Year following his 13th season.

Along the way, the Eagles set a Division I record by averaging 10.7 3-pointers made.

This year’s team is averaging 7.8 3-pointers made to rank 16th nationally.

Sarah Hansen ranks second among A-Sun scorers at 16.8 points per game and leads a FGCU offense predicated on guard play. Brittany Kennedy, averaging 8.8 points, leads the A-Sun in assists at 6.3 per game and in steals at 3.0.

Guards Danielle Ballard and Adrienne Webb team with Theresa Plaisance on the inside to lead an LSU offense that has averaged 81.4 points during its four straight wins.

Ballard is coming off back-to-back 21-point performances. Webb is averaging 15.7 points over her last three games.

On the inside, Plaisance is the SEC’s leading scorer at 18.0 points per game and averages a team-high 8.6 rebounds. She also leads the SEC in blocks with 37, an average of 3.4 per game.