LSU uses 3rd Quarter turnaround to beat Auburn

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LSU head coach Nikki Fargas calls to her players during an NCAA basketball game against UCF on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020 in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

BATON ROUGE, La.—The LSU women’s basketball team returned to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center after their Christmas break to take on the first SEC opponent of the 2020-21 season, the Auburn Tigers. The host Tigers took down the guest Tigers, 56-43.

LSU improves to 3-4 on the season and 1-0 in the SEC. Auburn falls to 5-4 and 0-1 in the SEC.

Late in the third quarter, senior Awa Trasi and senior Khayla Pointer forced three turnovers combined, which led to scores in three straight possessions. The relentless effort by the Tigers created 22 points off of 24 Auburn turnovers.

Eight LSU players, including every starter, had at least one steal with Pointer and sophomores Domonique Davis and Tiara Young collecting two each. LSU finished with 11 steals. LSU also had a strong night from the free throw line shooting over 93% from the charity stripe.

Pointer collected 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Redshirt-senior Faustine Aifuwa finished strong with a six point and 10 rebound night. Young and senior Jailin Cherry each scored eight points from off the bench.

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • After several empty possessions for both teams, Pointer got the scoring started with a jumper from the wing, bringing the early score to 2-0. Auburn responded with two-made baskets; LSU called their first timeout of the half.
  • After the timeout, Auburn continued their quick start, going on an 8-0 run, leading 8-2. LSU clawed their way back momentarily, but Auburn added on to their lead.
  • At the end of the first quarter, Auburn led 14-8.
  • LSU kept trying to close the gap at the start of second quarter, but Auburn maintained the lead throughout until the media timeout. Auburn led 22-13.
  • LSU continued to chip away at the Auburn lead, but the guest Tigers still led at the half, 27-19.
  • Just over a minute into the second half, Auburn got the scoring started with a layup, but Aifuwa responded with a layup of her own. Auburn took its biggest lead of the game, 34-21 with 7:13 left in the third quarter.
  • LSU responded with a quick 6-0 run bringing the score within 7, at 34-27.
  • Trasi created two straight turnovers leading to four made free throws at the free throw line. This brought the host Tigers within three. Pointer collected a steal of her own adding two more and bringing LSU within one. Auburn led 34-33.
  • LSU continued to be relentless on the defensive side of the ball, which led to fruitful offensive possessions. At the end of the third quarter, LSU led 39-37, anchored by an LSU 16-0 run.
  • LSU continued their hot streak adding onto their lead bringing the score to 45-37. Auburn responded with four straight before the fourth quarter media timeout.
  • Pointer and Trasi kept their foot on the gas with the help of Young adding on to their lead. Auburn called a timeout with LSU leading 52-41.
  • The Tigers won going away after a strong second half performance, with a victory by a score of 56-43.

Nikki Fargas‘ Postgame Quotes

On turning it around for a win…

“Well, we wanted to make sure that we fulfilled your birthday wish, so happy birthday to you (today is Voice of the Tigers Patrick Wright’s birthday) … I’d like to take the first half back but everything in this life is a learning lesson and what I’ve seen from this team is that they do have fight in them, and they have a resilience. We make the game a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be. We have to give credit to Auburn because I though in the first half they really executed their game plan. They were very in tune to scoring the basketball but also, we had way too many turnovers in the first half. One we settled in and picked up our defensive pressure, that’s when we got some baskets and that’s what got us going. This is a team that’s shown we can play and be very aggressive for about 20-25 minutes and need to put together 40 minutes of hard-nosed, focused basketball.”

On Auburn not applying much pressure but LSU still turning it over in the first half…

“I agree. I don’t think it was them as far as the turnovers we were coming up with. I thought we had some good penetration, and we knew that the rotation was going to be there, but it needed to be placed a lot sooner. I think we were one dribble too many at times. Then there were times when we just dribbled the basketball out of bounds and were playing way too fast and maybe that’s just part of getting back into the rhythm of playing. I know this team and I know when we lost more games, I just feel like we’re going to start gelling a lot better and going into this game, I mentioned it earlier, we usually have a game prior to the Christmas break and it seems like our schedule, like everybody else, we’re trying to do the best we can. But with Covid, we’ve had two big breaks where we play two games and then we’re off for ten days, then we play two games and we’re off for another several days. So, I think now, getting into the SEC schedule and playing every week, two games a week, I think that’s really going to help out team gel and get better a lot quicker.”

On nearly half the points from off the bench and defensive pressure from certain players…

“Yeah, I feel like our bench did a nice just of coming in and being aggressive defensively for us but also being able to knock down some baskets. With the exception of Sarah, everyone who played in our game had at least one field goal, so that’s a bonus. This team did a much better job – we hadn’t been. We did a much better job at the free throw line. We went 14 of 15 from the free throw line and I thought that was key for us as well.”

Up Next

The Tigers will head to Oxford for their first SEC road game to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. This matchup was originally scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 3, but was postponed to Monday, Jan. 4 due to COVID issues within the Ole Miss program. The game will be carried on the SEC Network Plus at 3 p.m. CT. As always, you can listen to the LSU Sports Radio Network, broadcasting on 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.

(Release via LSU Athletics)

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