A year ago the LSU women’s basketball team (22-4, 10-3) would’ve lost Thursday night’s game against Mississippi State (15-10, 6-7), Kim Mulkey said as much.
Going on the road against a team fighting for its NCAA Tournament life LSU went into the fourth quarter down two and had been outscored by nine points in the second and third quarters. But this LSU team isn’t like previous years, and this group of Tigers would go on to win by 12 thanks in large part to a 17-3 run over the game’s final 4:53.
“I don’t know how we won this game other than their will to win and their will to not be afraid to take that shot,” Kim Mulkey said. “These seniors lost many games last year that they could have won; they were close games. It’s rewarding for me for them to now win those close games that they lost last year.”
LSU’s guard play was once again the story as Alex Morris, Khalya Pointer, and Jailin Cherry would combine to score 51 points on 17-41 shooting. Morris led all players in scoring with 23 points and was a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. She’s gone over 20 in five of LSU’s last six games.
While the Tiger guards were filling it up, the front court players were doing all the dirty work. Faustine Aifiuwa and Autumn Newby both grabbed 12 rebounds, spearheading a 45-36 LSU advantage on the glass.
You don’t go on 17-3 fourth quarter runs without making a few defensive stops and that’s what LSU did. They made 10 to be exact, holding Mississippi State to just one make on its final 11 attempts
“What they did, they did on sheer will to win, sheer talent and just making clutch plays,” Kim Mulkey said. “It wasn’t anything I drew up. It wasn’t any magical thing said in the timeout. You have to win some of those like that sometimes.”
Thursday’s win is significant in a number of ways. First and foremost it extends LSU’s winning streak to five and keeps them in the running to host NCAA Tournament games on campus; second, the win sets up LSU to clinch a double-bye for the SEC Tournament provided they can beat #17 Florida Sunday afternoon; and finally, the 22 regular season wins is the most the program has had since the 2007-2008 season, which was also the last time LSU made a Final Four. It’s been said time and time again but it bears repeating: what Kim Mulkey has done in just one season is simply incredible.
“None of them have been in this position,”Mulkey said. “You’re tied for second in the league. You’ve got a chance to host first and second round games potentially. You’ve won 22 basketball games.”
LSU will have a chance to score its 23rd win at home on Sunday against the Gators, who beat LSU three weeks ago. Tip off is set for 3:00 P.M. and the game will be carried on SEC Network.