LSU wins at Vanderbilt to clinch second spot in SEC
NASHVILLE — Angel Reese and Alexis Morris combined for 44 points as the LSU women’s basketball team (26-1, 14-1 SEC) took down Vanderbilt (12-17, 3-12 SEC) Thursday in Memorial Gymnasium by a score of 82-63 to clinch second place in the SEC.
Reese, the six-time and reigning SEC Player of the Week, scored 23 points and hauled in 18 rebounds for her 26th double-double of the season. Reese had a double-double by halftime for the tenth time this season.
Morris had 21 points and led the team with 5 assists. LaDahzia Williams recorded 13 points and 6-8 shooting and had 8 rebounds. Jasmine Carson made three threes in the win.
Vanderbilt’s Ciaja Harbison led the Commodores with 21 points, 5 three-pointers, and 5 rebounds. The only other Commodore to reach double figures was Jada Brown with ten.
The Tigers were dominant in the paint, outscoring the Commodores, 46-16 on the inside. Freshman forward Sa’Myah Smith played well off the bench for LSU, scoring 8 points to contribute to LSU’s points in the paint.
LSU jumped out to a 17-point lead at the half, but Vanderbilt went on a run early in the third quarter and got back within six before the Tigers extended the lead back out.
“I am pleased in the first half,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “In the first half we were talking, communicating, helping the helper, help and recover – a lot of great things in the first half. Then you come out in the third quarter and it’s just the opposite.”
The Tigers have one regular season game remaining as they are slated to host Mississippi State on Sunday at 5 p.m. CT on the SEC Network before gearing up for postseason action. With LSU’s win on Thursday and Tennessee’s loss against South Carolina, the Tigers have locked up the No. 2 spot in the conference for the second year in a row. LSU would need to win on Sunday and for South Carolina to fall against Georgia to grab a share of the SEC title.
“Two years in a row we’ve finished second in the league behind the National Champion (South Carolina),” Coach Mulkey said. “We need to recognize that. I need to recognize that. Someday our goal is to finish as champions.”
During Thursday’s game, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee made its final Top-16 seed reveal prior to Selection on March 12. The committee had the Tigers slated as a No. 2 seed once again.
Three pointers from Morris and Poa boosted LSU to an 11-6 lead five minutes into Thursday’s contest. LSU held the five point lead into the first media timeout despite only connecting on 1 of its last 7 shots. Following the break the Tigers went on a 7-0 run and held Vanderbilt scoreless for three minutes. Sacha Washington hit a turnaround jumper in the final seconds to make it a seven point game and end the opening quarter with LSU holding an 18-11 lead.
LSU made three triples and held the Commodores to 1-8 from deep in the first ten minutes of action.
A minute into the second quarter a three-pointer from Ryanne Allen put Vanderbilt within six. The Tigers responded with a 7-0 run in under a minute to take a 13-point lead over the Commodores. Just before the media timeout Carson hit back to back triples to improve the LSU lead to 17 with 4:38 to play before halftime. The Tigers ended on an 11-4 run to make it 40-23 heading into halftime.
Reese finished the half with 10 points and 10 boards to secure her 26th double-double of the season. It also marked the 10th time she reached a double-double by halftime this season.
The Tigers shot 46-percent from the field and 46-percent from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes of play. LSU out rebounded Vanderbilt by ten and scored half of its points from within the paint.
Carson made her third triple of the night to open the third and give LSU its first 20-point lead of the game. Vanderbilt would not go away so easily as the Commodores went on a 7-0 run in the middle of the quarter to get within 9 of LSU. The Tiger would hit the 50-point mark just before the media timeout as Vandy trailed by 12. Back-to-back threes from the Commodores brought the margin to six with just under four minutes left in the third. The Tigers responded with a 10-0 run to stretch their lead back to double figures and went into the fourth holding a 60-45 lead.
The Tigers were outscored 22-20 in the third quarter and Vanderbilt forced 7 LSU turnovers compared to the Commodores 2, both within the last minute. Morris led the way with 8 points in the third, and Reese followed with 7. The duo scored the team’s last 15 points of the third quarter.
LSU carried its momentum into the final quarter as it built upon its lead by opening with an 8-2 run to take a 21-point lead. Vanderbilt made four three-pointers in the fourth but were unable to find a stop to the Tiger’s offensive attack. Morris added another 8 points in the fourth and Reese and Williams each scored six. LSU went 4 of its last 4 from the field and finished with a 19-point victory.
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