On Thursday night in the PMAC, LSU found a way to stop the bleeding from the wound that was a three-game losing streak. The Lady Tigers beat Vanderbilt 61-55 to improve to 19-8 overall and 9-6 in SEC play.
“We have a thing about us where we want to make sure we protect home court, and we gave one away last week, but let's not continue to do what we did last time”, said coach Nikki Fargas when asked about what she told her team down the stretch.
The offense was led by junior center Faustine Aifuwa, who finished with 18 points and added seven rebounds. As usual, junior guard Khayla Pointer was a big part of the offensive game plan as she scored 12 points as well as adding seven assists. Junior forward Awa Trasi also scored 10 to help the Lady Tigers beat the Commodores.
“I was kind of cold early,” said Aifuwa when asked about her night. “My teammates told me to keep shooting and ultimately put me in a position to score. Once the shots started falling, I got in a groove.”
A major key to the victory was the defense of the Lady Tigers. The team had 11 steals and seven blocks. Junior guard Jailin Cherry had a team high of six steals, while Aifuwa led the Tigers with six blocks. These individual performances on the defensive side of the ball as well as out-rebounding the Commodores 35-30, ultimately secured the win.
“It’s a game of runs and we knew we had to outrun them and get some defensive stops in order to win the game,” said senior guard Jaelyn Richard-Harris.
Richard-Harris was one of three other seniors who played their final game in the PMAC on Thursday night. Down the stretch, she came up huge, hitting a three pointer to put the Tigers up 57-55 late in the fourth quarter, and then immediately getting a steal which led to another bucket that eventually secured the win for LSU.
"She (Richard-Harris) knocked down a huge three for us and it was gutsy of her to take that initiative, to knock that down,” said Fargas. “She is a spark plug for us. She plays as big as anyone on the floor. I thought she left it all on the floor tonight.”
With one game left before the SEC tournament starting on March 4, it can be easy to look ahead of the next opponent, but the Tigers are adamant about taking it one game at a time.
"We've got one more regular season game to go and we've got a big opponent in Arkansas on Sunday,” said Fargas.
LSU plays the Razorbacks on Sunday, March 1 at 1 p.m. in Fayetteville. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus.