How a ‘quiet’ Last-Tear Poa made lots of noise in LSU’s comeback win over Alabama

How a 'quiet' Last-Tear Poa made lots of noise in LSU's comeback win over Alabama
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Kim Mulkey saw it coming. Last-Tear Poa has been waiting to throw a behind-the-back pass, one that could give a rare glimpse into the hard-nosed Aussie’s flashy, showy side. 

Poa just needed to find the right time to uncork it. 

And what better time than Sunday afternoon, during the third quarter of the LSU women’s basketball team’s 85-66 win over Alabama. The No. 13 Tigers trailed by 10 at halftime. But thanks to a spark from Poa, their defense buckled down, and their offense fired up, fueling an outburst that allowed LSU to win the second half by 29.

Poa decided to punctuate the quarter with her behind-the-back dish. Angel Reese’s blocked shot set up Poa in transition, where her crafty dime found Flau’jae Johnson on a fast break, setting her up for an easy layup that put LSU ahead by nine with 34 seconds left in the third. 

“She’s kind of quiet,” Mulkey said. “But those skills are there.”

Against Alabama, Angel Reese was LSU’s best player. The superstar forward scored 27 points, pulled down 19 rebounds, dished out six assists and shot 11 of 20 from the field. Over the last 25 seasons, no player has notched more than one 25-15-5 game in a career. Reese now has three such performances.

Poa didn’t post those gaudy numbers, but she did put a similar imprint on the game. The reserve guard started the second half in place of Hailey Van Lith because LSU needed her to run its full-court press, which Mulkey decided to dust off in hopes of slowing down Alabama’s offense. 

In the press, Poa was LSU’s “protector.” She was stationed on the opposite end of the floor as the Tigers’ last line of defense, the player tasked with cutting off long outlet passes and setting up the halfcourt defense once Alabama broke the press. 

“She really is the best protector we have on the team,” Mulkey said. “So that got her on the floor quickly, and she stayed on the floor because she did other things besides that.”

In 30 minutes of action, Poa scored a season-high 11 points, to pair with six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Alabama felt her impact on the second half immediately. In only the first minute of the third quarter, the junior grabbed an offensive rebound, scored a putback layup, got a steal, earned two free throws and drew a charge. 

The second charge Poa drew later in the half was her 28th of the season. 

“She leaves a lot of shots on the floor that she can take,” Reese said, “but she’s super unselfish and her game honestly starts on the defensive end. She takes charges. She goes at the best player and defends them. She gets the chippy calls and does the right things at the right time.”

Poa’s uptick in playing time came at the expense of Van Lith, who logged just 20 minutes of action, tying a season low. In the second half, Poa played 18 minutes, but Van Lith played only four. 

In the time Poa was on the floor, LSU outscored Alabama by 31 points. But over the minutes that Van Lith played, the Crimson Tide outscored the Tigers by 10. 

Mulkey has five regular season games left to strike the right balance between the two guards’ minutes. If Poa keeps playing at a high level, LSU can not only give Van Lith more time in her more natural off-the-ball role, but it can also find more rest for Mikaylah Williams, who’s averaging a team-high 35.7 minutes per game in Southeastern Conference play. 

“She’s just super unselfish,” Reese said, “and I’m glad it’s coming to her offensively now. Defense, of course, leads to offense. I’m glad I was able to get that block before that behind-the-back (pass). We gotta take Poa out to dinner tonight.”

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About Marc Lemoine 5155 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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