Believe the Hype: LSU men, women succeed in tournaments

Dave’s Picks: Year-End Grab-Bag
December 3, 2013
Jacks out of 3A playoffs
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Dave’s Picks: Year-End Grab-Bag
December 3, 2013
Jacks out of 3A playoffs
December 4, 2013

Both the LSU men and women’s basketball teams entered the 2013-14 seasons with lofty expectations.

At separate Thanksgiving tournaments this week, each team showed that those prognostications just may be accurate.

The No. 15 Lady Tigers took home the Barclays Invitational this week, scoring victories against Michigan and home standing Rutgers in the process to earn the title.

Further south in the Orlando sun, the men’s team earned a third-place finish at the prestigious Old Spice Classic, posting a 2-1 record in the four-day holiday event, which featured some of the top programs in the country, including Oklahoma State, Butler and St. Joseph’s.

With the victories, both LSU teams will continue to grind toward SEC play with high expectations.


Nothing came easy for the Lady Tigers in the Barclays.

But through a pair of hard-fought defensive games, LSU earned a pair of wins.

In the opening round game against Rutgers, the Lady Tigers led throughout most of the duration of the game before securing a 69-65 win.

Using efficient offense and dominant defense, LSU took a 29-25 lead into halftime. They ballooned that advantage to 46-37 midway through the second half of play. But Rutgers didn’t go down without a fight, cutting the LSU lead to one on separate occasions in the second half. But each time the Lady Tigers were pushed, their true freshman standout guard had an answer.

Freshman Raigyne Moncrief scored a game-high 27 points in the win, continually gashing the Scarlet Knights’ defense for easy buckets. Moncrief made 15-of-20 free throws in the win, many of those points coming late in the game with Rutgers trimming into the lead.

“Down the stretch, we wanted the ball in her hands. That says a lot about her,” LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell said. “She has done a lot for this team in the short period of time she’s been here.”

With the win, LSU earned the right to play Michigan in the finals. Against the Lady Wolverines, the Lady Tigers showed their ability to play from behind away from home, scoring a 64-62 victory.

LSU started quick and rolled to a 29-22 halftime advantage against their Big 10 foe. But Michigan wouldn’t go down without a fight and stormed back against the Lady Tigers in the final 20 minutes to take the lead.

The Lady Wolverines went on a 24-9 run out of the lockers to push ahead 46-38 with just 11 minutes to play in the tournament.

With the title hanging in the balance, LSU chipped away for the rest of the half and tied the game at 56 with three minutes to play.

After playing even basketball for the next two and a half minutes, LSU possessed the ball with 30 seconds to go and the score tied at 62.

That’s when sophomore guard split the defense and broke the tie, scoring the game-winning layup to earn the Lady Tigers’ the win.

Ballard had 10 points in the game, in which Moncrief and Shanece McKinney led the team with 13.

Caldwell said the win made her proud because it was a total team effort away from home.

“It was an incredible job by Danielle Ballard to get in there for the score,” Caldwell said. “Players made plays tonight. When you get in late-game situations, that’s what it’s all about.”

With the victories, LSU is now 6-1 on the season.


While the LSU women took home gold, the Tigers’ men secured bronze at the Old Spice Classic.

The Tigers finished play at the four-day event by beating Butler 70-68 in overtime to take home third place in the tournament.

Prior to the thriller with the Bulldogs, LSU topped St. Joseph’s in the first round on Thursday before dropping a close one to Memphis on Friday.

“Finishing 2-1 against the caliber of competition will help us gain confidence as a basketball team,” LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones said. “This has been a nice week for us.”

Against Butler, the Tigers needed a little late-game magic to push the game to overtime.

Down 3 with the clock grinding down, senior guard Anthony Hickey buried a deep 3-pointer at the end of regulation to tie the game at 61.

The shot was the only field goal of the game for Hickey, who finished 1-of-5 from the field. It also allowed LSU to draw even after being behind for most of the second half.

“Coach drew it up. It was meant for Andre Stringer to shoot the three, but he penetrated really well and threw it out,” Hickey said. “The ball came out to me. I’m confident in my team and they are confident in me. I’m just happy to make a big play.”

Once in overtime, LSU’s defense made timely stops, which allowed the Tigers to seal the win.

Junior forward Johnny O’Bryant led the Tigers with 17 points. Four other players pitched in 12, including standout freshmen Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey.

“We knew coming in that it was going to be a hard-fought battle,” Jones said. “Butler is a tremendous program. We had the opportunity to watch them and knew they were a tough basketball team. I think our guys did a great job playing through it all and finishing the game strong even though we were behind.”

Before beating Butler, LSU had a tough one on Friday, falling 76-69 to Memphis.

The Tigers led throughout the first half against Memphis and took a 38-34 advantage into halftime. But in the second half, Memphis lifted its pressure defense and forced the Tigers into turnovers, which led to easy baskets.

LSU had 24 turnovers to just eight assists in the game, which marked LSU’s second loss of the year.

To earn the right to play Memphis, LSU walloped St. Joseph’s 82-65 on Thursday night in opening round play.

The Tigers led that game throughout and put away St. Joe’s with balanced scoring and defense.

LSU freshman Raigyne Moncrief dribbles the ball past defenders during this week’s Barclays Invitational. The Lady Tigers took home the tournament title after beating Michigan and Rutgers. While the ladies took home a championship, the LSU men won a third place trophy at the Old Spice Classic, beating St. Joseph’s and Butler throughout the four-day, three-game event.