Lady Tigers cruise past N. Alabama

No election night anxiety for the LSU Lady Tigers.

LSU cruised to its second of two exhibition game victories with an 83-50 win Tuesday night over North Alabama at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

“There’s a lot of work still to be done,” said LSU coach Nikki Caldwell on the eve of her second season. “They had some good energy. The thing about this group is they know the season is here and we’ve got to be ready to play on Sunday. It’s a different level of hype because it’s the season opener.”

Sunday, the games begin for real as LSU hosts Wichita State at 2 p.m. in the PMAC. The Lady Tigers then embark on a four-game road trip, not playing at home again until Dec. 2 against North Carolina State.

LSU played with its full compliment of players for the first time as freshmen Danelle Ballard, Coco Baker and Derreyal “Tank” Youngblood saw their first action as Lady Tigers.

All three were held out of LSU’s first exhibition game against Xavier of New Orleans last week for violation of unspecified team rules.

Baker, a former Helen Cox standout, had 10 points and five steals while Ballard, a fellow guard, had five points and eight steals.

“I was ready to play,” Baker said. “I thought I did well. My teammates had my back. Together we did well.”

Youngblood, who played at John Curtis, had two points and three rebounds in 13 minutes of action before fouling out.

“There’s a lot to build on with these three freshmen,” Caldwell said. “Ballard and Baker’s intensity around the perimeter really generated some energy for us.

“Though Derreyal fouled out, I thought her presence in the paint was dominant. I told her that typically we wouldn’t play you in that situation to pick up your fourth or fifth foul.”

With no players on its roster over 6-foot-1, the Lions were in for a difficult time inside off the tip.

LSU never trailed, taking a lead 12 seconds in on a jumper by Bianca Lutley, and built a double digit lead by the 14:35 mark when a layup by Theresa Plaisance put the Lady Tigers up 16-5.

LSU led 50-22 at halftime and coasted from there. There was a little too much coasting from Plaisance and fellow forward Shanece McKinney for Caldwell’s liking, part of the reason she played Youngblood while in foul trouble.

“I felt Theresa and Shanece didn’t bring it in the second half like I felt they should have,” Caldwell said. “I hope those two understand the importance of playing for 40 minutes and not picking and choosing which possessions to play hard.”

Senior guard Adrienne Webb led the Lady Tigers with 24 points on 9 of 13 shooting in just 24 minutes of court time. Lutley was 6 of 8 from the field and had 17 points.

Sarah Bailey was the only player in double figures for North Alabama, a Division II school from Florence. She had 12 points.