BIMINI, Bahamas – The LSU Women’s Basketball showcase got going on Thursday as the No. 12 Tigers (6-0) defeated George Mason (3-4) 80-52 in the first game of the Goombay Splash in Bimini, Bahamas.
Angel Reese led the Tigers with 21 points and 19 rebounds as she posted her sixth straight double-double to start her LSU career. He has grabbed at least 15 rebounds in each of his last five games and has pulled down a career-high 19 in two straight games. Freshman forward Sa’Myah Smith came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points and forward LaDazhia Williams added 13 as LSU’s posts dominated.
“We wanted to get the ball in early and we did,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “I have to go back and watch the film and ask if we didn’t put the ball in there in the second half.”
Alexis Morris finished with 13 points and freshman Flau’jae Johnson chipped in with 10 as he has scored in double figures in every game of his college career thus far.
LSU’s streak ended at five games Thursday as the Tigers fell short of the century mark. At least one NCAA DI team had a streak of six straight 100-point games, and that was the 1981-82 Louisiana Tech team where Mulkey was a player.
The Patriots were led by Sonia Smith with 15 and Taylor Jameson with 11. 30 of George Mason’s 66 field goal attempts came from behind the arc, but the Patriots shot just 20 percent from downtown.
LSU showed its talent in the first half, jumping out to a quick and strong lead. But George Mason responded in the second half, scoring 33 points over the final two quarters.
“We forced a lot of missed shots (in the first half),” coach Mulkey said. “We gave them an opportunity in the first half and came out and ran. We didn’t do that in the second half and their defense didn’t change.
The Tigers started the game on an early 8-0 run, with half of those points coming from the free throw line as Reese and Johnson started in a 2-2 streak. In the first five minutes of the game, Reese collected 6 points and 6 rebounds, and achieved his sixth consecutive double-double. Reese finished the quarter with 10 points and eight rebounds as the Tigers led 27-9.
Just four minutes into the second quarter, Reese grabbed his tenth rebound and his sixth double-double through six games as a Tiger. LSU finished the quarter on a 10-1 run to give the Tigers a 29, 48-19 lead before halftime. Morris scored 10 goals in the first half.
Through the first two quarters, the Tigers shot 65.5 percent from the field and the Patriots 24.2 percent. LSU scored 32 points in the paint and added 10 more. The Tigers dominated the paint on both ends as they forced the Patriot offense into making perimeter shots late in the shot clock. George Mason went 2-16 from 3 in the first half and scored just 10 points in the paint.
After a slow start to the third quarter, LSU extended its lead to 34 points. Both teams found themselves on the line in the third period as they committed 11 personal fouls. George Mason went 4-4 and LSU went 7-8. LSU gave up 18 in the third and entered the final quarter with a 71-37 lead.
George Mason refused to go quietly, though, as the Patriots struggled mightily in the fourth quarter, making it difficult for the Tigers to relentlessly score and rebound on both sides of the ball. LSU was strong despite its sixth straight win.
“Fatigue set in,” coach Mulkey explained. “We’ve got to be in better shape. We didn’t defend well in the second half and we didn’t rebound hard and I think George Mason was a little tough on them in the fourth quarter.”
The next one
With the win, LSU will face UAB on Saturday at 1pm CT. That game will also be streamed on FloHoops. UAB and George Mason will play Friday afternoon.