GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The LSU Women’s Basketball team fell Sunday in Gainesville to Florida, 73-72, in Exactech Arena as Florida won its fifth game in a row.
“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.”
Pointer set a career-high with 35 points, going 11-27 from the field and 12-15 from the free throw line; She was the only LSU player to score in double figures. Autumn Newby had 11 rebounds in her return to the court.
Kiara Smith was big for the Gators with 23 points and 8 assists. Jordyn Merritt had 16 and Zipporah Broughton finished with 14 points. Merritt also had 7 rebounds to lead Florida.
“They won by a point and we get to play them again in a couple of weeks (Feb. 20 in Baton Rouge),” Coach Mulkey said. “Hopefully we learn from it.”
Florida used physical play to take an early lead but LSU responded in the second quarter to go into the half tied at 33. The Tigers led by four going into the fourth and the teams went back and forth in the final quarter. Florida took the lead with two minutes remaining and LSU had looks to tie the game that did not drop. LSU fell to 17-3 on the year and 5-2 in the SEC. Florida won its fifth in a row to go to 15-5 and 5-2 in the SEC.
“We’ve got to get back on that plane, head home, learn from it and get ready for a completely different Arkansas team,” said Coach Mulkey,
The Tigers will return to the court on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. CT when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville. The game will be televised on SEC Network.
Newby, back from her injury, scored the first bucket of the game after the first few possessions were empty for both teams, but Florida’s Smith promptly responded with a three. After Morris scored for the Tigers, Florida went on a 7-0 run to take a 10-4 lead. Coach Mulkey called a timeout and Hannah Gusters subbed in, scoring immediately in the post and grabbing a defensive rebound on the other end. That kickstarted a 6-0 run for LSU where the Tigers tied the game at 10. Florida scored the next six points though and regained momentum. Pointer drew a fall on the last possession of the quarter and made both free throws, but LSU trailed 16-12 after one quarter for the first time in 15 games. LSU shot just 29.4 percent in the quarter.
LSU scored the first four points of the second quarter, but LSU’s shooting woes continued early in the quarter and Florida scored the next six. With under five minutes left the Tigers began to shoot a bit better, LSU scored six in a row to make it a 30-29 game, but Alberte Rimdal hit a three in response. LSU scored the next four points to tie the game at 33 going into the half. In the quarter LSU shot 50-percent. Pointer had 7 second quarter points and Ryann Payne had 6.
Both teams turned the ball over 8 times in the first half as neither LSU nor Florida ever settled into a solid offensive rhythm.
The teams came out in the second half trading blows. Florida made a three to open the half then LSU scored four before the Gators scored again. Aifuwa then scored her first two buckets of the game to give LSU a 41-38 lead. Aifuwa and Pointer split LSU’s first 12 points of the quarter, each with 6. LSU led 45-41, but Florida scored the next eight to retake the lead. Jailin Cherry ended the run when she made her first shot of the game from 12-feet. Pointer went on a 7-0 run before a Florida three ended it, but with time running down, Pointer banked in a shot from 20-feet with the buzzer going off to give LSU a 58-54 lead. She had 15 third quarter points for LSU.
Florida started the fourth quarter on a 8-2 run to take a 62-60 lead. Pointer made two free throws to tie the game and Florida took a timeout with 6:43 remaining. Pointer tied her career high of 30 to give LSU a 65-62 lead with 4:52 remaining. After Florida took the lead with four straight points, Pointer hit a new career-high to give LSU the lead back with 2:50 left. Florida took the lead with 2:00 left, going up 68-67 and then went up three with one minute remaining. LSU got two good looks from deep to tie the game at 70, but missed both and Florida made its free throws. Pointer hit a three at the buzzer to bring LSU within one.
(Press Release provided by LSU Athletics)