LSU women

LSU women

Kim Mulkey wanted her LSU women’s basketball team getting back to one of its program pillars that it seemed to have lost the last couple of weeks in playing stout defense.

No. 4 LSU did early but couldn’t sustain it the whole way through at Vanderbilt. The Commodores present a formidable defensive task with guard Ciaja Harbison and Sacha Washington, who both got hot in the second half.

The Tigers weathered the storm for the 82-63 win against the Dores, holding them to 38% shooting, inside Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday night.

Vandy (12-17, 3-12) cut a 20-point early deficit to six points in the third before the Tigers (26-1, 14-1) ballooned the lead back up late.

“We got to learn to separate,” Mulkey said after the game. “When you got a big lead, you got to teach in those moments. I don’t know if it was fatigue (in the third quarter), but I thought it was not the same defensive effort we had in the first half.”

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Offensive rebounds. Second-chance points. Feeding Angel Reese.

LSU knew that Vandy couldn’t match what it has inside, obviously led by the sophomore star forward in Reese, who recorded her 26th double-double of the season (23 points, 18 rebounds).

LaDazhia Williams was active offensively for the Tigers from the get-go to finish with 13 points, and freshman Sa’Myah Smith had one of her more efficient performances with eight points.

The Tigers cashed in on second-chance opportunities, overpowering the Commodores, 21-0 in that stat. LSU edged Vandy 14-8 in offensive boards and put up 44 points in the paint.

“I don’t know that (Vanderbilt) got a lot of offensive boards, which has killed us (in the past). But they do play hard,” Mulkey said. “Their press hurt us a little bit.”

Jasmine Carson stays hot from 3-point line

One of the biggest questions coming off the Florida win was whether senior wing Jasmine Carson could follow up a great shooting performance with another.

The senior answered that concern, knocking down three 3’s after hitting seven at UF. She finished with nine points and will be a vital piece for LSU moving into the postseason.

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With the victory, LSU improved to 14-1 in SEC play. And once Tennessee fell to No. 1 South Carolina, 73-60, Thursday night, it provided enough room for the Tigers to nail down the No. 2 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament.

“Two years in a row we finish second in the league behind the national champions. We need to recognize that I need to recognize that,” Mulkey said. “Some day our goal is to finish as champion. We have less losses in the league this year, regardless of what happens with Mississippi State.

“If you can’t be champs, it’s not too bad to finish second.”

Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at