LSU women’s basketball is Elite Eight bound in thriller with Utah

LSU women's basketball is Elite Eight bound in thriller with Utah
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Besides their two losses, the LSU women’s basketball team hadn’t faced more adversity than in their Sweet 16 matchup with Utah Friday evening.

But this time, the hardship led them to a 66-63 win, and a ticket to the Elite Eight.

The Tigers will face Miami on Sunday for the right to advance to the Final Four in Dallas, Texas. That matchup will also take place at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. The time of the game is to be determined.

In a game with more than 10 lead changes and three LSU players fouled out, including Angel Reese, the Tigers looked the end of their season in the face multiple times. 

With four seconds left in the game, Utah had the chance to take the lead. But any prayers that were said on the LSU sideline were answered, and two missed free throws gave LSU the opportunity to seal the game.

It was fitting that the game came down to the final seconds. Both teams played the defense they needed to play to win the game, but of course, only one team can win. 

“I just thought it was two heavyweights going at it,” Kim Mulkey said. “At the end of the day, if you’re a basketball junky, you had to enjoy some of that going on.”

LSU women’s basketball clinched an Elite Eight berth for the first time since 2008 with its win over Utah.

Utah contained Angel Reese in the first half as well as any team had this season, despite South Carolina. But LaDazhia Williams stepped up and led the team with 24 points, six rebounds and two blocks, setting a season-high in points scored when the team needed it most. 

“Being a senior, I didn’t want this to be my last game,” Williams said. “I want to do anything that I could to extend our season and help the team out when we’re in foul trouble.”

However, Reese found her way back into the game in the second half, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds, marking her 31st double-double of the season and tying the SEC single-season record. She also added three blocks.

Alexis Morris used her veteran experience in the final seconds of the game, hitting two free throws to take the lead, and two more to seal the win. She finished with 15 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Kateri Poole also hit two three-pointers and finished with eight points.

Utah performed in a way that easily could have won them the game. Gianna Kneepkens led the Utes with 20 points, eight rebounds, and three steals. Her shooting disrupted LSU, as she hit three three-point shots. She often scored at times that gave the Utes momentum and allowed them to go on scoring streaks.

Alissa Pili came into the game as Utah’s leading scorer, and she backed up the hype Friday evening. She finished with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block. Isabel Palmer scored 15 points, three rebounds and three assists for the Utes.

“I thought both teams left it all out there on the floor, that’s why it stings so bad,” Utah hed coach, Lynne Roberts said. “I’m incredibly proud of my team, the season that we had. I just told them there’s no other locker room in the world I’ve ever been with the way they compete, fight, but also most, the way they conduct themselves.”

The matchup was everything a basketball fan could want to see at this stage in the NCAA Tournament; two good teams played good, intense basketball. Both teams used their strengths adjusted when needed and found it in them to execute things they struggle with.

Utah was in the bottom half of the Pac-12 defensive standings, but they played the defense they needed to stop LSU. LSU being a top-three defensive team in the SEC, the Tigers out-rebounded the Utes by only six.

“So much respect because that team guards you, we will guard you,” Mulkey said. “Everybody thought it was going to be this track meet.”

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The one flaw in their defense was letting Williams almost make up for Reese being contained, and that will come down to be a big factor in why LSU won the game.

The Tigers played good defense, but they shot inconsistently at 41%. However, they won’t question much about how they won the game.

All that matters to them is that they survived and will now advance.

“I knew playing for a hall of fame coach we were going to get something done,” Williams said. “We work hard every day in practice, we listen to what she’s got to say, and we put in the work. So I’m not too surprised this is year two and we’re making a statement, and we just want to keep making statements.”


About Marc Lemoine 1340 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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