In what is a season to forget for the Lady Tigers, Sunday’s 57-56 over No.24 Tennessee will certainly be a high point.
An upset seemed possible near the end of the first quarter, when the Tigers took the lead for the first time in the game and entered the second quarter up two. In the second quarter, LSU broke the game open, going up by as much as 14 before entering the break up ten.
Halftime awakened the Volunteers as Tennessee quickly cut the Tiger lead down to single digits and regained the lead with just under three minutes in the quarter. LSU would not lose its composure and a three by Jenna Deemer with just over a minute left in the quarter put the Tigers back on top. The Tigers would go up by six at the 8:28 mark, only to see the Vols take a three point lead with 46 seconds left.
Ann Jones hit a jumper to make it a one point game with 37 seconds left. After fouling, UT’s Alexa Middleton hit a pair of free throws to go up to push the lead up to three again, LSU counted with two free throws by Rina Hill. Tennessee would make two more trips to the free throw line but would only be able to split both attempts. A Rina Hill layup would make it a one point game before Russell had her chance at the free throw line.
With five seconds left in the game, Tennessee’s Mercedes Russell missed two free throws allowing Alexis Hyder to grab the rebound. Hyder was inadvertently fouled by Tennessee’s Andraya Carter while Hyder was attempting to get down the court. Hyder hit two free throws and put LSU up by one with three seconds in regulation. LSU’s upset was complete when the Carter missed an off balanced three point attempt and the rebound was secured by Shanice Norton with the clock at zero.
The win snaps LSU’s six game losing streak and takes them out of last place in the conference, for now. LSU’s victory also puts the Vol’s current streak of 565 consecutive weeks being ranked at risk.
Hyder led all Tiger scorers with 17, while Akilah Bethel had nine points and 12 rebounds. Two pluses in this game were the Tigers three point shooting, 37%, and free throw shooting, 82%. Both atypical as the Tigers are 22.6% from three point range on the season and 63.9% from the free throw line
The win certainly doesn't mean much in a year where the Lady Tigers are all but mathematically eliminated from making the tournament, but it certainly leaves the Tigers with something positive to remember as the season nears its end.