January 16, 2021
LSU relishes OT win and takedown of A&M
"It was a statement win."
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It’s been 48 hours for the LSU Lady Tigers.
Forty-eight hours since they took down the No. 7 ranked Texas A&M Aggies in a crucial win that may have sparked a turnaround for the team and signaled the rebirth of their season.
Defense. Tenacity. Overtime. And 20 points from sophomore Tiara Young.
All of these contributed to LSU’s stunning 65-61 OT victory Thursday night over Texas A&M – handing the #7 ranked Aggies their first loss of the season.
“They are a very good team so we knew we had to stay focused,” said Young. “We came into the game knowing they were ranked and knowing how people overlook us so we just kept the mindset that it’s not over until the clock hits zero.”
Faustine Aifuwa, who finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, called the victory “huge.”
“A lot of people tend to overlook LSU. We’re not really having the best season to start out but your can’t overlook LSU,” she said. “We’re a team that you need to be careful with because when we come out together, when we’re all locked in, we are very unstoppable and dangerous.
“This was a statement win.”
The victory moved LSU to .500 for the season (5-5) and 3-2 in SEC play. A&M fell to 12-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC action.
“We didn’t want to look at this game and feel like we hadn’t prepared. We knew that this was going to be a fight to the end. Texas A&M is a very good basketball team, but so is LSU,” said Head Coach Nikki Fargas.
“This was a hard-fought game and we knew it would be. When you play Texas A&M it’s always a battle but I was just extremely proud of our team,” she continued. “We had players that we have been counting on in the last four games and I thought the play of Tiara Young was huge for us. She showcased why she’s going to become one of the best players in our league.”
Young finished the game with a career-high 20 points and four rebounds.
The Tigers also received big contributions from senior Karli Seay who finished the game with five steals, eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Redshirt-senior Aifuwa contributed another double-double, her sixth of the season and the 15th of her LSU career.
In addition, senior Khayla Pointer had 17 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. With this performance, she keeps climbing the LSU career assists list, currently sitting at No. 8 with 394, moving past former Tiger Rhonda Hawthorne (391; 1982-86).
“It was very exciting how everybody contributed,” Young said. “We knew after our loss (Sunday night) to Tennessee we had to come back and we just stayed focused and locked in an we knew what we had to do to take care of Texas A&M.”
The victory pumped new life and blood into the Tigers’ season and has given them some much-needed momentum moving forward.
“It definitely brings momentum going into the next game,” Aifuwa said. “And we’re definitely going to need that so, just staying locked in, doing what we need to do in practice and everything will fall into place.
Fargas said the victor was important as well on many levels.
“Hopefully our team sees the improvement,” Fargas said. “I look at our team from a month ago and we are not the same team. I’ve seen growth. I’ve seen these young ladies, what they have to do day in and day out to be able to play today; from everything we are doing living in the pandemic, staying in our Bubble, the isolation away from families and friends… and to be able to come in and compete at this level against some talented teams in our league, it says a lot about who they are and how much they love this game.
“We talked about playing hard. We’ve gotta be that scrappy team. It’s a very, very fast paced game that we play, but you can bring a peace and a calmness and I feel like we are playing in that space right now,” Fargas continued. “And to have that solidified by taking down an undefeated team, taking down a ranked tam, that just reinforces that they are doing something right.”
The Tigers brought a tenacity on the defensive side early, holding the Aggies to their lowest scoring total in the first half this season at 26. They also led the game for the first three quarters: 17-12 (1st); 32-26 (2nd) and 46-39 (3rd).
It was in overtime that the Tigers prevailed. The Tigers outscored the Aggies 11-7 in the overtime period, grabbing a monumental win 65-61. LSU shot 48.3% from the floor, while the Aggies struggled from the field, shooting 39.7%.
The Tigers will head to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Missouri Tigers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The matchup will be televised January 18 on the SEC Network at 6 p.m. CT.