LSU blows out Cowgirls

McNeese winless after seven games

<p>FILE: McNeese State’s Bre’Ashlee Jones (2) looks to pass while closely guarded by Southern-New Orleans’ Talaih Robertson (23) at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Sunday, November 12, 2017. </p>AP Photo/Lake Charles American Press, Kirk Meche

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BATON ROUGE — Playing on the road in an arena full of young children, the McNeese State women’s basketball team struggled on offense as LSU beat the winless Cowgirls 86-36 on Tuesday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU had Field Trip Day, which saw more than 5,000 school kids eighth grade and below come out to the PMAC to watch the game.

"I loved the crowd, I loved the kids," said Cowgirls redshirt freshman Bre’Ashlee Jones. "I love when it’s kids games, because you can be a role model to somebody’s child. Even though you’re playing out here, you can show them athletics is still here. Women’s basketball is still here. Having the kids here was just great."

LSU (5-2), playing its first game since a Nov. 29 loss to Kansas, finished with five players in double digits, led by Ayana Mitchell with 14 points, followed by Khayla Pointer, Mercedes Brooks and Jaelyn Richard-Harris with 12 points each and Faustine Aifuwa added 10.

Junior guard Regan Bolton was McNeese’s lone double-digit scorer with 11 points on 3 of 7 3-point shooting. Otherwise, the Cowgirls’ offense couldn’t get much going, shooting 26 percent (13 of 50) from the field. McNeese (0-7) also committed a season-high 36 turnovers in scoring a season-low 36 points.

"At times we just force bad shots, make bad passes," McNeese head coach Kacie Cryer said. "A lot of it is just decision-making in those moments. And, with a good team like LSU, they convert (turnovers and missed shots) really quickly. Just mental lapses, doing the little things that we continue to preach."

After Callie Maddox converted two free throws to cut LSU’s lead to 4-2, the Cowgirls’ offense went stagnant for awhile. The Tigers scored 11 consecutive points before McNeese scored on a Sky Jasper layup to make it 15-4, LSU. The scoring drought lasted 5:03 in the first quarter. While the Cowgirls missed their first six field-goal attempts, they ended the first quarter hitting three of their last five shots.

The second quarter saw what perhaps was McNeese’s best sequence of the game, when the Cowgirls forced turnovers on three consecutive LSU possessions and went on a 6-2 run which prompted the Tigers call a timeout.

Despite the loss, the return of Jones has had a positive effect on the team. The sophomore forward helped provide a physical presence and leadership that Cryer said was missing from the team in her absence from the court as she recovered from a knee injury she suffered. Her first game back was Saturday against Alabama-Birmingham.

"Getting in a rhythm," said Jones, who finished with six points, three rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. "We’re all getting in a rhythm. I’m glad my teammates accepted me back on the team, and the chemistry is there. And the wins is going to happen."

While the offense struggled in the first half, the defense was OK. But both struggled in the third quarter as LSU outscored the Cowgirls 33-7. The Tigers’ third-quarter output almost matched their entire first half total (38).

The fourth quarter was low scoring as both teams emptied the benches.

There was a scary moment late in the game when McNeese redshirt freshman point guard Jahquell Robinson went down after she was fouled hard into the stanchion. Robinson said she could feel tingling in her legs, but was taken off the court on a stretcher as a precaution.

The Cowgirls have three nonconference games remaining, two against sub-Division I opponents (Southern-New Orleans and Louisiana College) and then Louisiana Tech (Dec. 29) before opening Southland Conference play against Incarnate Word (Jan. 2).

"We’ve had a tough season," Jones said. "But we played well out of it. And no matter what, me and my teammates, we’re going to fight. And we’re going to fight for this win, and we’re going to fight for our coaches. Because, no matter what, even if we start 0-8, we’re going to come back on top."

LSU 86, McNeese 36

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