In front of the 15th largest crowd in program history, the No. 13 LSU women’s basketball team (14-2, 1-1) gave the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks (14-1, 1-1) all they could handle but couldn’t pull off the upset, falling 66-60.
The game was lost at the end of the second quarter,” Kim Mulkey said. “South Carolina didn’t do anything different. Fatigue could have set in. They’re poised. They’ve played everybody in the country that they’ve needed to play to win a national championship and they took LSU’s best shot tonight.”
The loss snaps LSU’s 13-game winning streak.
LSU went toe to toe with the best team in the country and led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter. But the Gamecocks benefited from being the bigger team and some iffy at best officiating.
South Carolina doubled up LSU on the boards 48-24; they had more defensive rebounds, 29, than LSU had altogether. In fact Carolina’s Aliyah Boston nearly had as many rebounds by herself, 18, than LSU’s entire team.
“Before the game I said you better put on your big girl panties and rebound, and we tried,” Mulkey said. “That was the difference in the game. I knew that would be the difference in the game. That’s big girl basketball and they played their heart out. Great crowd. Sorry we didn’t win it, but we’ve come a long way.”
I hate being “blame the officials” guy but LSU was also called for nearly twice as many fouls, 23, as South Carolina, who had 12. That led to the Gamecocks shooting 32 free throws compared to just seven for LSU. In a six-point game, a +25 advantage in free throw attempts matters.
Still, LSU gave the Gamecocks all they wanted and then some and the Tigers damn near scored the program’s biggest win since the Seimone Augustus/Sylvia Fowles era. Augustus was also honored Thursday night.
The Tigers had a six-point advantage at halftime but the Gamecocks would outscore LSU 38-26 in the second half. Boston was an absolute force Thursday night adding 19 points to her 18 boards; Carolina also got 17 points from Zia Cooke and 16 from Destanni Henderson.
But it was LSU’s Khayla Pointer who would lead all scorers with 22 points Thursday night. Pointer along with her backcourt running mate Jailin Cherry played all 40 minutes. Alex Morris played 39 of a possible 40 minutes and scored 14 points, while Faustine Aifuwa played 30 minutes and had 12 points before fouling out.
“We’re getting better and anybody that knows this conference knows it’s going to be a dog fight every single game, so all you can do is have a gameplan and compete as best as you can,” Pointer said. “We’re going to take our loss today, work on some things tomorrow and Saturday and get ready for Auburn.”