A team effort would be the best words to describe LSU’s dominant 75-58 win over Tulane.
The Tigers finished the game with five players in double figures in what was an impressive team performance from start to finish. Faustine Aifuwa led the way for LSU with 17 points, but Khayla Pointer, Alexis Morris, Autumn Newby and Jailin Cherry all added double figures and were impressive in the win.
“If we can score that many players in double figures, we’re going to compete,” is what Head Coach Kim Mulkey had to say regarding the play of the team as a whole.
It was clear early on that LSU wanted to emphasize sharing the ball and playing inside-out as the Tigers had consistent success scoring inside. LSU outscored Tulane 46-24 in the paint, which opened up the game and allowed LSU’s offense to flow. The Tigers finished the game with 16 assists, led by Pointer with six, which further showed LSU’s emphasis on moving the ball.
Pointer played all 40 minutes for LSU and anchored the offense with her distribution as well as 14 points of her own. She continued to add to an impressive start to the season and will be huge for LSU on the offensive end down the stretch.
Aifuwa was the biggest contributor for the Tigers and had her breakout game on both ends of the floor. To go along with her 17 points, she tallied eight rebounds and three blocks en route to a dominant individual performance. Aifuwa talked about how she was able to break out in this game and play to her full potential for the first time this season.
“I feel great,” Aifuwa said. “My teammates were giving me confidence all week in practice, so going out there and doing what I do, it just felt great.”
LSU women’s basketball is entering a new era this season under Hall of Fame Coach Kim Mulkey…
Aifuwa and the rest of the five in double-figures all shared one thing in common going into the game: all five are seniors.
It is clear that this team relies heavily on the veteran leadership within the group, and that has paid dividends so far in this young season. Having this leadership and this balance especially on offense will play a huge factor in this team’s success as it moves closer to conference play. Mulkey spoke about the leadership of the team and the effect it had on the game.
“The five right there, what do they have? They have experience, and there’s no substitute for that,” Mulkey said.
Offensively is where the balance of the team stood out against Tulane, but it could be seen in all aspects of the game. When asked about the balance on the offensive end, Mulkey stressed the importance of her players impacting the game in multiple ways, regardless of what’s happening offensively.
“If you have five kids that are confident in shooting the basketball, and as we like to say, spread the wealth, we’ll take that, [but] sometimes it doesn’t happen, sometimes somebody’s just having an off night, they have to do other things,” Mulkey said. “Don’t allow any individual to gauge how well they play just because of something they did on the offensive end. That’s not always going to be the case in this game, so gauge them on consistency.”
Defensively, the Tigers were sound, once again led by the same five that led the way on offense. LSU forced Tulane into 17 turnovers and scored 25 points off those turnovers which was a major key to controlling the game. Cherry, Morris and Newby each had three steals each, and Aifuwa led the Tigers with three blocks.
LSU will bring this momentum with them to Puerto Rico as they prepare for the San Juan shootout over Thanksgiving. The Tigers will play New Mexico State and Missouri State in the brief tournament which will provide this group with two more tough challenges as they creep closer toward SEC play.