Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
GAINESVILLE, FL: LSU fell to the Gators, 73-72 in an exciting see-saw battle that went down to the wire in Gainesville on Sunday afternoon.
The Lady Tigers played well through most of the contest, however it was Florida's three point shooting that was the difference in the game. The Lady Gators hit 6-17 from behind the three point arc, as LSU only managed to hit one trey all day long, finishing 1-9 from three land. LSU also hurt themselves turning the ball over 19 times in the game.
The ball simply didn't bounce the Tigers way late in the game, as Florida got the stops and hit their free throws to steal the win.
“It was a game where they started out tougher, more physical guarding us,” said LSU Head Coach Kim Mulkey. “We hung in there. We battled. I thought Khayla Pointer almost single handedly won the game for us. They won by a point and we get to play them again in a couple of weeks (Feb. 20 in Baton Rouge). Hopefully we learn from it.” Mulkey added. “We’ve got to get back on that plane, head home, learn from it and get ready for a completely different Arkansas team,”
Both teams struggled to score during the first two minutes of the contest before LSU broke the ice on a layup by Autumn Newby, but the Gators answered quickly with a three pointer by Kiara Smith giving Florida a 3-2 lead at the 8:17 mark.
The game remained close over the next two minutes before Florida would go on a 7-0 run to build a 10-4 advantage with 4:52 left in the first period.
Over the next two minutes, LSU answered with six straight to pull the game even at 10-10 with 2:52 left on the clock. But it quickly began to turn into a game of mini runs as the Gators would then respond with a 6-0 run, taking a 16-10 lead with 1:22 left in the period.
Khayla Pointer was able to hit two free throws with four seconds left in the first period to pull LSU to within four, 16-12 at the end of the quarter.
After cutting the Florida lead to two early in the second period, the Lady Tigers would go into a short shooting slump allowing the Gators to increase their lead to 26-18 at the 5:34 mark.
Khayla Pointer eventually heated up and took control of the ballgame, scoring seven quick points to help LSU pull to within one, 30-29 with 2:12 left in the first half.
After a three point shot by Alberte Rimdal, LSU would score the final four points of the period to tie the contest up at the half, 33-33.
Kayla Pointer led the Lady Tigers with 11 points at the break, with Autumn Newby and Ryann Payne both adding 6 points each. LSU finished the first half shooting 14-35 from the floor for 40%, 0-2 from behind the three point arc, and 5-5 from the free throw line for 100%. Both teams committed 8 turnovers each, but the Gators out-rebounded LSU 24-22 in the first twenty minutes of play.
Both teams began the third period hot as a pistol, trading baskets over the first two minutes of play, before Faustine Aifuwa would score back to back baskets to give LSU the lead, 41-38 at the 7:29 mark.
Khayla Pointer scored on a layup 60 seconds later to increase the LSU lead to five points, 43-38. But the Gators would battle back, pulling to within two points before Jailin Cherry would draw a technical foul, helping Florida go on a 8-0 run to retake the lead, 49-45 with 3:20 left in the third period.
The Tigers fought back with four straight to pull things even at 49-49 as the contest continued to be an exciting back and fourth battle.
The game once again tied up at 51-51 at the 1:55 mark, before the Lady Tigers would outscore Florida 7-3 to end the third period, giving LSU a 58-54 advantage heading into the final period.
Two minutes into the fourth period, the game became knotted up at 58-58 as both teams continued to play well at a ferocious pace.
The Tigers and Gators continued to trade baskets over the next minute as the game would sit at 62-62 at the officials timeout with 6:33 left in the game.
Pointer would score three straight as she hit a single free throw, before banking in a basket off the glass to give LSU a 65-62 lead with 4:52 to go.
Florida refused to quit as the see-saw battle continued with the Gators fighting back to regain the lead, 66-65, but
Khayla Pointer answered with a beautiful layup to put the Ben-Gals back up, 67-66 with 2:51 left.
Florida regained the lead on a fast break basket off of a LSU turnover, 68-67 with 1:11 left in the contest. The Gators increased their lead to three, 70-67 with 47 seconds remaining on a huge basket by Zipporah Broughton. Kiara Smith added a free throw to increase the Florida lead to 71-67 before Ryann Payne would hit a jumper cutting it to 71-69.
Two more free throws by Broughton put the Gators up by four with six seconds left, giving Florida a huge 73-72 SEC victory after Khayla Pointer hit a three pointer at the buzzer.
Khayla Pointer carried the team all game long as she finished with a career high 35 points. Alexis Morris and Ryann Payne both scored 8 points each, while Autumn Newby and Faustine Aifuwa both added 6 points each.
With the loss, LSU is now 17-3 overall and 5-2 in the SEC...
Next up the Lady Tigers will travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday, Jan. 27th. The contest will be televised on SEC Network with tipoff set for 7:30pm