Florida Gulf Coast upsets LSU women

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Sarah Hansen scored a game-high 30 points and converted four free throws in the final 38 seconds as Florida Gulf Coast upset the LSU 76-70 in women’s basketball action at Alico Arena on Friday night.

Hansen was 14-of-14 from the free-throw line for the Eagles (7-5), who finished 23-of-24 as a team from the line. Getting to the free-throw line and a 7-of-30 effort from 3-point range proved to be the recipe for the upset against LSU, which dropped to 8-4 overall and lost to an Atlantic Sun Conference team for the first time.

Four Lady Tigers finished with double digits in scoring. Theresa Plaisance had a team-high 19 points before fouling out with 8:26 left in the game. Danielle Ballard and Bianca Lutley had 18 points apiece, while Adrienne Webb contributed 13 points. Jeanne Kenney pulled down seven rebounds.

“We struggled to match up with them on the defensive end, and we didn’t execute our game plan,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “We knew they were a great offensive team that likes to shoot 3s or make layups.

“We didn’t do a very good job, and we let them get into isolation situations. Offensive rebounds were energy-givers for them.”

Plaisance left the game after drawing her fourth foul and an ensuing technical foul. LSU trailed 57-54 following the foul shots, but Ballard countered with two free throws and a layup off a Kenney assist. The Lady Tigers held a 62-59 lead after Lutley’s bucket with 5:12 remaining in the game.

“When you lose her (Theresa Plaisance) early, it’s going to be a tough one,” Caldwell said. “She’s our go-to player. We tried to establish her inside and she was able to convert.”

It was LSU’s final lead as Hansen took over down the stretch. She converted on a three-point play at the 4:15 mark that gave the Eagles a 64-62 advantage. LSU cut it to 70-68 with 47 seconds left after a Ballard steal led to two Kenney free throws and an ensuing Ballard layup.

However, a foul on the other end with the shot clock winding down sent Hansen to the line. She made two free throws and hit two more after an LSU shot was no good on the other end. Trailing 74-70, Ballard missed a cutting layup with 15 seconds remaining before time ran out.

Florida Gulf Coast, which set an NCAA record for 3-point field goals last year, attempted 30 3-pointers — over half of its 57 field-goal attempts on the night. The Eagles own one of the nation’s toughest home-court advantages having lost only 11 of its 165 games in Alico Arena.

LSU outshot Florida Gulf Coast, 46.2 percent to 40.4 percent.

The Lady Tigers wrap up nonconference play at home against UNO at 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.