Lady Tigers eye title

The LSU women’s basketball team, riding the momentum of its upset victory against No. 12 West Virginia, meets Florida International in the championship game of the FIU Thanksgiving Classic at approximately 2 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Century Bank Arena.

The Lady Tigers (2-2) out-muscled the Mountaineers 71-63 in a physical game Friday night. LSU used its usual recipe of success: getting to the free throw line (22-of-30) and forcing turnovers (28, which led to 16 points).

“This team has shown that there is no quit in them and they have toughness,” coach Nikki Caldwell said. “Florida International has a lot of great players who can score from the perimeter. We are going to have to be on top of our closeouts both on the ball and away from the ball. I thought FIU did a great job on the boards against Iowa. We have to be able to counter that aggressiveness.”

Freshman Danielle Ballard was a game-changer on both ends of the floor Friday, scoring a career-high 25 points and grabbing career-bests in rebounds (eight) and steals (five). Ballard is one of four Lady Tigers averaging double figures in points. She is posting 12.5 per game and ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in steals with 14.

Junior forward Theresa Plaisance leads LSU in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (9.8). Plaisance is third in the SEC in rebounding and tops in offensive boards (6.0).

The Panthers (2-2) shocked Iowa in the waning seconds Friday with a buzzer-beater from Jerica Coley, the Sun Belt preseason Player of the Year. She’s averaging 17.8 points and 8.3 rebounds.

LSU stands a victory away from becoming the fourth SEC school to claim 800 all-time wins. In the 38-year history of the program, the Lady Tigers are 799-371 (.684) and would join Tennessee (1,194), Georgia (838) and Auburn (814) in the 800-win club.

LSU is 3-1 all-time against FIU. The teams are meeting for the first time since a 68-54 LSU win in this tournament Nov. 30, 2003. All of the meetings have been in Miami.

Iowa and West Virginia meet in the consolation game at noon.