Da Boot Sports
By: Brittney Achord
BATON ROUGE, LA: Kim Mulkey and the LSU Lady Tigers were out to prove their worth this season and they started out with a record breaking season opener against the NSU Colonels. Shooting 34-64 from the floor for 53.1%, banking in 20 of 27 layups, hitting 6-14 three pointers for 43%, 44 rebounds, and forcing 20 turnovers. The Lady Tigers held Nicholls State to their lowest scoring game in two years, and broke two records in the process. Mulkey's ladies made quite the statement that they will be a force during the 2021-2022 season.
Khayla Pointer became the third player in LSU history to score a triple double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. Faustine Aifuwa's eight points boosted her into the 1,000 point club with 1,001 career points to join in celebration in this record setting season opener. In a post game press conference, Pointer stated, "When we are out there having fun, I did not notice when an assist happened or when a rebound happened until it got towards the end. My teammates do a great job of making me look well. I set them up for open shots, they knock down the shots sometimes and sometimes I get the rebound. I could not have gotten those nor the triple double without them."
The phrase "lead by example" was shown exponentially on the court on Tuesday. Sophomore Hannah Gusters proved to be a ferocious Tiger with 19 points and six rebounds. Jailin Cherry also helped lead the Lady Tigers to victory today with 12 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
As the PMAC vibrated with fans chanting "LSU...LSU...LSU" over and over, as the Lady Tigers took to the court. The whistle sounded and sophomore Hannah Gusters ignited into the air giving LSU the ball first. Khayla Pointer banked in back-to-back layups followed by a jumper by Ryann Payne set the tempo for the contest, giving the Lady Tigers a 6-0 lead. After both teams settled into a back-and-forth battle, Faustine Aifuwa would steal the ball setting Autumn Newby up for a layup bringing the score to a 10-5 lead. With 49 seconds left in the first quarter, Jailin Cherry forced another turnover leading to Aifuwa sinking a layup to put the Lady Tigers up 12-5 at the end of the 1st quarter.
LSU would not let up going into the 2nd quarter. A steal and layup by Ryann Payne, a three point jumper, followed by a fouled jumper and an "and one" foul shot by Pointer gave the Lady Tigers a 6-0 run to start the 2nd quarter. Three minutes later NSU's Chelsea Cain scored on a jumper bringing the score to 20-7. While the Lady Colonels would begin to fight back, it would be no match for the fierce Lady Tigers. LSU responded with a 17-0 run as Hannah Gusters put up back-to-back layups. Ryann Payne scored six points on two three point plays. Jailin Cherry scored four points on back-to-back layups. Autumn Newby scored two on an assist from Payne, followed by Timia Ware ended the half sinking a free throw. The Lady Tigers went into the half leading 39-10.
LSU would continue to pounce on the Colonels in the 3rd period as they would extend their lead to as much as 35 points, going up 55-20 with 2:32 left in the quarter. Nicholls would answer with a 8-0 run, taking advantage of LSU foul trouble. But the Lady Tigers respond finishing off the 3rd period with five straight points including a Khayla Pointer layup that lit up the PMAC. The Tigers would head to the fourth and final quarter leading 60-28.
LSU would roar into the 4th Quarter with Hannah Gusters once again getting the Tigers on the board with a layup on the fast break. Sarah Shematsi would hit her first three pointer of her LSU career, as the quarter progressed. Khayla Pointer's two point jumper, three assists and three rebounds in the period landed her with her first triple double. Then with just over four minutes left in the contest, Autumn Newby would steal the ball, passing it to Faustine Aifuwa who amplified the PMAC with a made layup that put her over 1,000 career points. The Lady Tigers shot 72.7% in the final quarter, outscoring Nicholls 22-12, to capture win #1 of the Kim Mulkey era, 82-40.
In a post game conference, Coach Mulkey stated, "We have to defend and we have to defend the entire court, the entire game no matter what the score is." She went on to discuss strategy adding, “Quit looking at the clock and don’t worry about the score.” The Lady Tigers did just that and it showed its effectiveness. In closing, Mulkey told the press, "We have only just begun."
The Lady Tigers prepare to take on Florida Gulf Coast in the PMAC on Sunday, November 14. Tip off is set for 12:30 pm. This match up will be aired on SEC+ Network. Go out and buy your tickets now! Check back with Da Boot Sports for game coverage and photos.
Photos Below By: Brittney Achord
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi