In one of the most anticipated matchups in the history of LSU, the Tigers could not pull off the upset bid as South Carolina survived late to win 76-70 and remain undefeated.
South Carolina (18-0, 6-0 SEC) went on a 9-0 run in the final two minutes that was highlighted by Bree Hall’s game-tying and go-ahead three-pointers. Hall finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
South Carolina guard Chloe Kitts was also a huge contributor to South Carolina’s come-from-behind victory. Kitts finished with a team-high 14 points, three rebounds and one assist. 10 of Kitts’ 14 points came in the first half and she was a big reason why LSU wasn’t able to run away with the game in the first half.
LSU (18-3, 5-2 SEC) had two huge performances from guard Aneesah Morrow and forward Angel Reese.
Morrow shot 63.6% from the floor and finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Reese finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
LSU led 41-36 at the end of the first half as the Tigers were in full control of the game from the get-go as they shot 48.4% from the field and 36.4% from behind the arc. The Tigers also outrebounded South Carolina, the nation’s top rebounding team, 17-10. LSU also had eight offensive rebounds to South Carolina’s two.
Moreover, LSU held South Carolina star center Kamilla Cardoso to just three points.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the second half was a completely different story.
South Carolina’s frontcourt was able to control the paint as the Gamecocks dominated the boards by outrebounding LSU 22-12. Moreover, the Gamecocks had seven offensive rebounds to LSU’s two, ultimately leading to 10 second-chance points.
Cardoso had a great second half as she scored eight points, five rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.
After a back-and-forth third quarter, South Carolina started to overwhelm LSU.
The South Carolina defense started to suffocate LSU as they held the Tigers’ offense to 33.3% shooting. Reese and guard Flau’jae Johnson did not score a single point in the fourth quarter.
The biggest factor in South Carolina’s comeback was Angel Reese was fouled out with just over four minutes remaining when she fouled South Carolina guard Raven Johnson on a shooting foul. Johnson would make both shots to tie the game to make the score 67-67.
“When you don’t have Angel Reese on the floor, it takes you out of your rhythm, it takes you out of your confidence,” LSU head coach Kim Mulkey said.
On South Carolina’s next possession, Hall would nail a three to give South Carolina the lead before LSU guard Hailey van Lith nailed a three-pointer of her own to tie the game up.
Nevertheless, Hall would nail the go-ahead corner three to give the Gamecocks the lead and for good.
“It’s what she does every single day when she’s out on the court,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, said. “She puts in extra.”
South Carolina guard Te-Hina Paopao also came up huge in the second half as she recorded nine points and three assists after a lackluster first half. Seven of those nine points came in the fourth quarter.
Even though South Carolina came up with the victory and it should be put in the win column, the biggest winner tonight was women’s basketball.
With ESPN College Gameday on-site at the PMAC and 13,000 crazed LSU fans wearing white, the game did not disappoint as everyone was pleased with how hard both teams fought and the excitement they brought onto the court.
“It had all the dynamics of what you want every women’s basketball player to experience,” Staley said. “We’re going to talk about this for years. But I hope we don’t, because they’ll be replaced by others.”
Unfortunately for LSU, they were the losers of a hard-fought game. Despite all of the positivity about what this game brought to the university, the city of Baton Rouge and women’s basketball as a whole, Mulkey isn’t a fan of moral victories.
“I’m not into moral victories, never have been,” Mulkey said. “We had opportunities to win this game, and we didn’t.”
LSU’s next game will be on the road as it will travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State on Monday, Jan 29.