March 23, 2014
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – LSU led wire-to-wire in a 98-78 victory over Georgia Tech on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament.
Danielle Ballard scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for LSU (20-12).
“Well, first of all, I think we saw out there today why LSU was ranked top 12 in the country early in the season,” head coach MaChelle Joseph said. “I really felt like today they were clicking on all cylinders.”
“On the other side we only had four players who had played in an NCAA Tournament, and I think we figured out today what it takes not only to play at this level but compete at this level in the NCAA Tournament, especially on someone’s home floor,” Joseph said. “I think that’s a really tall order and task, and I really feel like it will help our team and a program grow as the years go on.”
Theresa Plaisance added 21 points and DaShawn Harden 17 for the Lady Tigers, who picked an opportune time to set a school record for most points in a tournament game and reach their highest point total of the season.
Seeded seventh in the Louisville region, the Lady Tigers had the benefit of opening on their home court, where they are now 17-3 all-time in the NCAA tournament. LSU led by as much as 20 in the second half en route to winning its 16th straight first-round game, dating back to 1997. The Lady Tigers also improved to 9-0 all-time in first-round games played on their home court.
LSU next plays Tuesday night, again at home, against the winner of Sunday afternoon’s game between second-seeded West Virginia and 15th-seeded Albany.
Shanece McKiney scored 14 points for LSU and Jeanne Kenney had 11 points.
Kaela Davis had 16 points for Georgia Tech.
LSU broke the game open in the second half with a 17-5 run that opened with Harden’s 3. Plaisance had eight points during the surge, including an alley-oop layup on a no-look, one-handed lob from Kenney.
Harden capped the run on a breakaway layup after she stole the ball from Aaliyah Whiteside near mid-court, making it 83-63 with 7:40 left.
Tech never got closer than 14 after that.
Kenney hit a 3 from the corner on LSU’s first possession and the Lady Tigers raced to a quick double-digit lead. Ballard added a jumper and a three-point play on an end-to-end layup, and McKiney’s layup made it 12-2.
Tech hit only one of its first eight shots and compounded its early scoring problems with two turnovers. But the Yellow Jackets later scored on three straight possessions, including a 3 and layup by Wallace, to pull to 13-9.
Harden scored eight points in less than two minutes, hitting two 3s and a layup, to help LSU widen its lead again, but 13 first-half points by Davis and 12 by Wallace and 11 by Marshall kept the Yellow Jackets close.
Tech was back within 42-40 on Marshall’s putback as she was fouled, but LSU’s dominant rebounding allowed it to remain in front. The Lady Tigers had 14 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes, and three of those rebounds came on a possession in which McKiney sank a putback as she was fouled. Ballard later added a short jumper, giving her 19 points and LSU a 51-44 halftime lead.