Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA - The 6th seed Ohio State Lady Buckeyes defeated the #3 seed LSU Lady Tigers 79-64 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in the Spokane Regional on Monday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
It was a tough ending to a wonderful season for the Lady Tigers who finished with a 26-6 record. Under first year head coach Kim Mulkey, this group of young ladies flourished into a competitive unit that brought excitement back to LSU women's basketball.
“One of my most enjoyable years ever in my career,” said Coach Mulkey, who is a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year. “I personally judge good coaches based on the talent they have on that floor and are they overachieving? Did we beat some people this year we should not have beaten? You bet we did. We beat a lot of ’em. We beat ranked teams. We didn’t start this baby ranked. We came from nowhere and just built it.”
The Lady Tigers controlled the opening tip and scored quickly as Khayla Pointer sank a three pointer 16 seconds into
the contest bringing the crowd of 8,135 to their feet.
LSU's defense held Ohio State scoreless until Rikki Harris sank two free throws at the 6:36 mark before Taylor Thierry banked in a layup off of a LSU turnover to put the Lady Buckeyes up 4-3 with 6:14 left in the first period.
Over the next three minutes Ohio State would outscore LSU 6-5 to hold onto a 10-8 advantage at the 3:15 mark, as six early turnovers aided the Buckeyes.
With :44 seconds left in the period, LSU would find themselves in a four minute scoring slump as the Lady Buckeyes would lead 15-8 thanks to Taylor Mikesell hitting a three pointer with :05 seconds left in the first period.
We began the second period with Ohio State on a 11-0 run while LSU had missed their last nine shots, but the Ben-Gals would wake up offensively to keep pace with the Buckeyes.
Halfway through the period, an Autumn Newby layup pulled LSU to within three, 23-20 with 5:30 left in the first half, but Rebeka Mikulasikova answered with Ohio State's 5th three pointer of the contest to put her team up 26-20.
The Lady Buckeyes would outscore LSU 8-6 over the final five minutes of the second period to take a 34-26 lead at the half.
Both teams shot poorly from the floor in the first half as LSU hit 11-33 for 33% while OSU finished 13-34 for 38%. But the difference in the contest was the three point shooting as the Lady Tigers only sank 2-5 from behind the arc for 40% compared to the Buckeyes hitting 6-13 for 46%. LSU finished 50% at the free throw line hitting only 2-4 while OSU hit 100%, 2-2 from the charity stripe. LSU outrebounded Ohio State, 26-18 during the first 20 minutes, but LSU committed nine costly turnovers while the Buckeyes only turned the ball over four times.
Ohio State began the third period playing aggressively on both ends of the floor as they would build a 42-28 lead at the 6:08 mark as LSU sputtered offensively, struggling to score against an energetic, high intensity OSU defense.
With 4:40 left in the period the Buckeyes increased their lead to 19 points, 49-30 as Ohio State continued to out-hustle and out-play the Lady Tigers.
The Buckeyes kept their foot down on the accelerator building a 24 point lead, 57-33 before LSU would score four straight to cut the score to 57-37 to end the third period.
The Lady Tigers began the final period with fire in their eyes, slowly chipping away at the Ohio State lead to find themselves down by eleven, 74-63 with only 2:39 remaining in the game.
LSU had several opportunities to get the lead under double digits but the shots simply wouldn't fall as the Lady Buckeyes would advance to the Sweet Sixteen with a 79-64 victory.
In her final game as a LSU Tiger Khayla Pointer finished with 32 points as she lead a furious fourth period comeback that fell short as Ohio State was able to survive the run and pull back away late in the contest. “It’s been great,” Pointer said. “It’s been fun. Coach obviously told us to think of all of the things we accomplished this year. We came up short. But can’t look over, you know, everything we have been able to do and the things we have accomplished.”
Jailin Cherry added 12 points in her final game wearing the purple and gold. “You know, we have never been here before,” Cherry echoed. “And it was just a blessing to play on this stage and at this level. Yeah, everybody doesn’t make it (to the NCAA Tournament), but we got a chance to make it. And, you know, we did a lot of good things so it’s really nothing negative I can say about it.”
It simply was a bad time to have an off night. But give the Lady Buckeyes credit, they came into a hostile environment and played at a high level throughout the contest.
With that said, the 2021-22 LSU women's basketball season comes to an end. A huge thank you to Coach Mulkey and all of the LSU players for a fun and memorable year...... Until next season, .... GEAUX TIGERS!!!
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes