LSU women's basketball lets big lead slip away to Tennessee Lady Vols in SEC Tournament
GREENVILLE, S.C. – The mostly orange-clad spectators sat on their hands as LSU women's basketball quickly built a 17-point lead by the early second period.
The No. 2-seeded Tigers came out with a flawless defensive effort, forcing eight first-quarter steals. Then Tennessee righted the ship and its slow march back started as LSU grew ice cold from the field.
The Lady Vols (23-10) completed the improbable comeback, sinking LSU (28-2) in the SEC Tournament semifinals, 69-67, Saturday inside Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
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How LSU women's basketball let big lead slip away
LSU's lead was built off an intense defense bolstered with active hands and perfectly-run assignments.
Then mishaps showed up once the Tigers looked up with a 17-point lead. The forced turnovers slowly crept away and so did the defensive intensity.
And the Lady Vols capitalized, as Jordan Horston found her form with 17 points to accompany star Rickea Jackson’s 26 points.
LSU’s accuracy retreated as it shot 18% from the field in the third quarter and couldn’t hit the big shots down the stretch.
Kim Mulkey's defense leads LSU to early steals, easy buckets
By halftime, the Tigers had piled up 10 steals, which was more than their own number of turnovers (8).
The heavy number of steals provided more shot opportunities but more importantly, it created easy chances for LSU in transition. LSU had 15 total layups in the first half, making 11 of them.
Alexis Morris' heater through SEC Tournament continues but couldn't hit game-winning shot
She's been able to jumpstart her game in different ways in Greenville. Against Georgia, it was with the 3-ball.
Morris opened things up on the defensive end against Tennessee, setting the Tigers' defensive tone from the outset. She cashed in with layups while continuing to hit perimeter shots.
When LSU needed a big play in the SEC tourney, Morris has been the go-to option. And she finished with 20 points. Naturally, Mulkey wanted the ball in her hands with the game on the line and with 2 seconds left, Morris’ game-winning heave clanged off the rim.
Angel Reese breaks two more school records including double-double record
Angel Reese added her name to the LSU record books in yet more categories. In the third quarter, LSU's star sophomore forward broke the single-season made free throws record, which was previously held by Maree Jackson from the 1977-78 season with 204.
Reese’s double-double, 22 points and 11 rebounds, also broke the school’s single-season double-double record. She now has 28 on the season and surpassed Sylvia Fowles in yet another mark in the history books.
Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.