GREENVILLE S.C. - LSU women's basketball advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2021 Southeastern Conference Tournament after beating Mississippi State by a score of 71-62 in the second round on Thursday morning.
Junior transfer Ryann Payne led LSU in scoring as she set career-highs in points, rebounds and assists. She finished with 17 points and added four rebounds and three assists for the game. She and junior Sarah Shematsi came off the bench for a combined 30 points, a huge factor in the victory. Shematsi hit four key three-point shots in the game and finished with 13 points.
Senior Kayla Pointer scored 14 points while also grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Her 14 points were enough to move her up a spot on LSU's all-time scoring list. Pointer passed Ayana Mitchell (1,275; 2015-20) and now sits at No. 22 with 1,280 career points.
Redshirt senior Faustine Aifuwa led the Tigers in rebounding with 12 boards. She also added nine points, just missing a double-double for the day.
The win ended a nine-game losing streak against the Bulldogs that started in 2015-16 season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Sophomore Tiara Young got LSU on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws.
- Mississippi State jumped out to an early 8-2 lead. At the first-quarter media timeout, the Bulldogs led the Tigers 9-4.
- Out of the timeout, the Tigers went on a 9-4 scoring run to tie the game at 13 with 2:11 remaining in the quarter, including a Shematsi three to cut MSU's lead to 11-9.
- After one quarter of play, Mississippi State led LSU 15-13. Payne got the scoring started for LSU in the second quarter with a three-pointer to give the Tigers a 16-15 lead.
- The teams traded buckets as the quarter went on. After two free throws from senior Karli Seay, LSU led Mississippi State 22-19.
- At the media timeout, the Tigers had a 27-21 lead over the Bulldogs.
- Mississippi State closed the gap, but LSU still led 33-29 at halftime.
- Back-to-back baskets by Young and Pointer gave LSU a 37-31 lead over Mississippi State as the third quarter action started.
- With 4:13 remaining in the quarter, LSU led 42-35 over Mississippi State.
- As the quarter went on, the teams traded buckets. The Tigers led 47-40 over the Bulldogs.
- At the end of the third quarter, LSU led Mississippi State 53-43.
- The scoring in the fourth quarter started slow for both teams, with the Tigers leading the Bulldogs 56-47 with 7:11 remaining.
- Mississippi State called a timeout as it trailed LSU, 61-52, with six minutes left in the game.
- The Tigers held the lead and won against the Bulldogs by a final score of 71-62.
Nikki Fargas' Postgame Quotes
On getting a win against Mississippi State after losing to them in the regular-season finale...
"We wanted to take the mistakes that we made in our previous game and make sure it didn't happen again. We talked about being that team that becomes a 40-minute team. We've been that team that's played 30 minutes, and I'm so proud of this group because they stayed focused and stayed locked into what we needed to do."
On LSU's bench play...
"To be able to see Ryann (Payne) and her path and her journey to get here and what she endured, as far as the surgery and getting herself healthy. She just kept working out and kept wanting to get experience. I'm thinking, 'If you can go, it's gonna be more than experience that we are gonna need you to get. We are going to need you to help us to win'. Her energy and just her bounce is so contagious. The fact that Sarah (Shematsi), which we have always known she can shoot lights out. I just feel like her confidence is at a high right now. They both did a nice job of playing off of each other. They allowed us to spread the floor more, which allowed us to get some penetration and post touches. To have plays that are threats form the perimeter makes our offensive execution looks a whole lot better."
On the energy and fight displayed by the team...
"I've always thought our team had fight in us. There're times where we would lose our focus and go off and do our own thing. The fight of our team, we maintained it. I can't say enough about the energy we felt from the bench. They were into it; they were engaged and that uplifted us. That's why we were able to come away with this win because it was about us as LSU and as a team."
The Tigers will play the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament on Friday, March 5, at 10 a.m. CT. Texas A&M won the SEC regular season title and LSU is the only team to beat the Aggies this season.