Walker leads Carolina to victory
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ieasia Walker scored a game-high 24 points and hit a 3-pointer that broke a 50-50 tie as No. 18 South Carolina survived a valiant effort from the LSU Lady Tigers 66-59 on Thursday night in Carolina Coliseum.
LSU (11-7, 2-3 SEC) rallied from deficits of 10 points in the first half and eight in the second during a physical game against the Southeastern Conference’s No. 1 defensive team. South Carolina entered the game third in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 47.1 points per game. The Gamecocks converted their free throws down the stretch and improved to 15-3 overall and 3-2 in the SEC.
“I saw a different team tonight,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I saw an LSU team that fought. We came back, made a run and put ourselves in a position to win this game tonight against a very good South Carolina team.”
Theresa Plaisance scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Plaisance reached double figures for the 17th consecutive game, the longest streak by an LSU player since Sylvia Fowles did it in 26 straight games from November 2006 to March 2007.
Bianca Lutley added 16 points, and Adrienne Webb ignited the LSU comeback with back-to-back 3s as part of her 14-point game. Jeanne Kenney, who missed the Mississippi State game with a shoulder injury, dished out five assists, took two charges and blocked two shots. She left the game in the second half after reaggravating her shoulder injury but later returned.
LSU trailed 45-37 with 12:14 to play, but the Lady Tigers showed life thanks to their backcourt pressure. Plaisance drained a 3, and Lutley converted an acrobatic layup and was fouled. Ballard then forced a steal at midcourt and blocked a shot on the ensuing possession. Both critical defensive plays led to Webb layups in transition.
Lutley went through the lane again, made a shot and drew a foul that gave LSU its first lead of the game at 50-48 with 7:30 left. But with the score tied at 50, Walker launched a deep three late in the shot clock as South Carolina regained the lead at 53-50 with 5:01 on the clock.
Walker added another layup, and the Lady Tigers came up empty on two straight possessions as the Gamecocks iced the game at line.
“We really tried to execute on the defensive end,” Caldwell said. “There were some possessions where we really wanted to pack it inside. Some of their paint points, they were off turnovers. That really hurt us early. We have to be a team that plays through adversity, and we did. We are turning the corner.”
LSU committed 18 turnovers on the night with 11 of those coming in the first half. That led to 19 points on South Carolina’s end. The Gamecocks also held a considerable advantage at the free throw line, making 15-of-24 to the Lady Tigers’ 6-of-12.