We’re not in Dallas anymore.
The LSU women’s basketball title defense started off with a whimper as the Tigers got run off the Las Vegas floor by Colorado 92-78.
It was a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated as Colorado led by as many as 20 points. LSU is also the fourth reigning champion in women’s Division I history to lose its season opener, and the first since UConn did it in the 1995-1996 season.
“I’m disappointed by some players that I thought would be tougher,” Kim Mulkey said after the game. “But when you play a team that has that level of experience, I wasn’t surprised.”
LSU might have been more talented than Colorado, but the Buffs had experience playing together on their side. Colorado brought back four starters from its Sweet 16 squad, while LSU was clearly not totally comfortable with one another.
Angel Reese picked back up where she left off last season, with 15 points and 12 rebounds but was slowed down by four fouls; transfer point guard Hailey Van Lith had 14 points and 7 assists in her LSU debut and knocked down a pair of threes. The biggest bright spot was true freshman Mikaylah Williams who led LSU with 17 points.
Those three were good but Colorado was better. Frida Formann scored a game-high 27 points including seven threes; Aaronette Vonleh wasn’t intimidated at all by Angel Reese and had 24 points, while Jaylyn Sherrod did a little bit of everything with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
There is, obviously, still a long way to go in this 2023-24 season, but this will serve as a good wakeup call for LSU. The Tigers are still one of the most talented teams in the country, but talent can’t beat cohesion.
It’s better to learn this lesson in November than in March.