The women’s basketball team competed in the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in the past eight seasons, but lost their first round matchup against the LSU Lady Tigers, 98-78.
The Jackets entered the game as the No. 10 seed and were underdogs to No. 7 LSU. It was the first ever game between the two schools in the sport. Unlike the men’s tournament, in which every game is played at a neutral site, the early round games on the women’s side take place on the campus of the higher-seeded team. The Jackets needed to travel to an SEC arena and beat a team that was ranked in the top 15 for most of the year on their home court.
LSU jumped out to an early 10-0 lead as Tech missed its first five shots of the game. A three-pointer by Sydney Wallace, which she immediately followed with a steal and quick layup, brought Tech to within four points in the first half, but LSU responded with eight straight points to go up 21-9.
The Jackets soon went on an eight-point run of their own, highlighted by two field goals by Nariah Taylor and three free throws from Kaela Davis, and they soon cut LSU’s lead to two.
The first half continued to progress in this manner, with LSU going on scoring runs and Tech playing catch-up to cut the lead down to a single possession, but LSU took a 51-44 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Davis, Wallace and Tyaunna Marshall scored 13, 12 and 11 points in the first half respectively, and would finish the game with 16, 20 and 20 points.
The Lady Tigers began the second half in the same style as the first half, nearly doubling Tech’s offensive output in the opening minutes. They were enjoying an eight point lead when DaShawn Harden nailed a three pointer to spark a 17-5 run for LSU that gave them a commanding 83-63 advantage with under eight minutes left. At that point, the game was basically over. Tech could not get closer than 14 points to the Lady Tigers for the rest of the game.
LSU made exactly half their field goal attempts and went four-for-ten from beyond the arc. In contrast, the Jackets shot 39.5 percent from the field and made only four of 22 three-point attempts, though many of those shots were taken in desperation towards the end of the game. The Lady Tigers out-rebounded the Jackets on both offense and defense and as a consequence scored over twice as many second-chance points, 23 compared to Tech’s nine.
One positive note for the Jackets is that they forced more turnovers and capitalized on them, posting 25 points off of turnovers compared to LSU’s 11.
Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph praised LSU’s performance in the game, while also noting that the Jackets’ inexperience was a limiting factor.
“We only had four players who had played in an NCAA Tournament, and I think we figured out today what it takes, not only to play at this level, but compete at this level in the NCAA Tournament, especially on someone’s home floor,” Joseph said, courtesy of ramblinwreck.com. “I think that’s a really tall order and task, and I really feel like it will help our team and a program grow as the years go on.”
With the loss, the Jackets’ season is over, while LSU moved on to play West Virginia in the second round back on Tuesday night.