In what been an awful regular season for the Lady Tigers basketball team, Nikki Fargas preached to her team that the SEC Tournament was a brand new season. The message seemed to have work at least for one game.
LSU trounced Alabama 58-49 in the first round of the SEC Tournament with a solid offensive output and no second half struggles, two areas of weakness for the Tigers in the regular season. Despite having just six scholarship players available for this game - a common occurrence throughout the year - the Tigers were competitive with the Tide early.
The first quarter featured three ties and five lead changes. Ultimately, LSU would lead by one after the first period. The second quarter was much the same. After the Tigers lead hit three following an Alexis Hyder jumper, Bama and LSU traded scores with neither team gaining more than a one or two point edge. When the quarter ended, Alabama was up 24-22 after a pair of free throws in the final minute. After an ice cold 26% shooting in the first half against South Carolina in the previous game, LSU shot a much more respectable 43% in the first half against Alabama.
Anne Pedersen scored the first four points for the Tigers out of the break putting LSU ahead by two, only to see Alabama respond with three points, retaking the lead with 7:08 left in the quarter. From there LSU went on a 10-5 run to close out the quarter and take a four point lead into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, the teams traded scores early but Alabama failed to make it a one possession game at any point in the final frame. Bama made just two field goal in the final five minutes of the game and scored just eight total points over the stretch. During that same period LSU went 3-of-6 including a three point play by Alexis Hyder which put LSU up eight with 1:26 remaining, essentially sealing the game. Rina Hill, Shanice Norton and Hyder each contributed five assists in the victory. Hyder and Hill led the Tigers in scoring with 21 and 10 points, respectively.
The win gives LSU 21 straight seasons of 10 or more victories. It’s still a little early to call this Tiger squad Cinderella, but if they top Kentucky on Thursday perhaps some magic still remains.