High School Football

FINAL: West Virginia collapses at LSU, 76-67

BATON ROUGE, La. — West Virginia faced a roaring road crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, on top of facing No. 7 seed LSU in an NCAA second-round game. In a topsy-turvy second half, WVU erased a nine-point lead, built a seven-point margin, and then lost by nine 76-67.

A recap of the in-game updates as the Mountaineers (30-5) faltered late against the Tigers (21-12) and fell short of the Sweet 16:

LSU 76, WEST VIRGINIA 67 (Final)
Asya Bussie scored 21 points, all in the second half, to lead West Virginia, while Bria Holmes added 12 and Christal Caldwell closed her career with a 3-of-19 shooting night for 10 inefficient points. LSU’s rebounding margin bulged to 55-40 by the end, because WVU stopped attacking the LSU bigs who survived the final 12 minutes with four fouls. But Danielle Ballard was a rebound-grabbing machine with 15 boards that went along with 22 points.
LSU 76, WEST VIRGINIA 67 (Final)
What happened? West Virginia seemed to be in control late in the game, and maybe it felt like it was, but LSU scorched the Mountaineers for a 20-4 game-ending run. Tough to explain how it went wrong, but not what went wrong: Bussie stopped getting touches on the block and short-handed LSU scored on its last 10 possessions. WVU may not have had a worse defensive stretch all season.
LSU 70, WEST VIRGINIA 65 (0:52 second half)
WVU led 63-56 with 5:05 left and then turned stagnant and timid on offense as LSU has sparked to life with a 14-2 run. The Mountaineers suddenly look dazed and a step slow, while the home team is energized and made 6-of-9 shots.
WEST VIRGINIA 60, LSU 56 (7:58 second half)
Holmes is a hard-luck 1-of-6 from 3-point range with three rim-outs in the bunch. That makes her 2-of-18 from deep in the tournament, but again, she’s missing by mere centimeters. … This game may boil down to whether LSU’s bigs can avoid their fifth fouls. McKinney ended LSU’s elongated field-goal drought with an offensive putback.
WEST VIRGINIA 57, LSU 50 (9:57 second half)
The Mountaineers went on a 16-2 run in the past 4:53 and Bussie turned amazingly assertive with LSU’s tandem bigs on the bench. How assertive? After going scoreless in the first half, she has 16 points in the last 10 minutes, including 12-of-14 at the foul line.
WEST VIRGINIA 52, LSU 50 (12:04 second half)
The Mountaineers used an 11-2 run to tie it at 48-all, capped by Taylor Palmer’s 3 off a kickout pass from Bussie. The bigger happening came a minute later when Plaisance and McKinney picked up their fourth fouls within a 31-second span. Credit Bussie and Averee Fields for attacking the lane and pressuring the LSU bigs, who haven’t backed off.
LSU 48, WEST VIRGINIA 41 (15:28 second half)
The Tigers zipped out of halftime on a 7-0 run, getting up-close looks that couldn’t have pleased Mike Carey. If there was a bright spot for WVU it was Bussie beating LSU’s defense downcourt for a transition layup, her first points of the night. She also drew the third fouls on McKinney and Plaisance.
LSU 37, WEST VIRGINIA 35 (halftime)
Sometimes these stats are mere trivial consequence, but we’ll throw it out there anyway: West Virginia is 6-4 when trailing at the half. The glass half-full crowd can point out that WVU is still over .500 in those instances. The pessimists will point out that all of this season’s losses have come after being down.
LSU 37, WEST VIRGINIA 35 (halftime)
Holmes tops the West Virginia scorers with 10 points, while Caldwell has nine and Stepney six. But Bussie was 0-of-3 before encountering foul trouble and she was struggling to create shooting angles for herself in the lane. Dating back to the Big 12 tournament loss to Baylor, Bussie has two baskets in the last two-and-a-half games. … LSU is shooting 37 percent to West Virginia’s 34, but the Tigers own a 26-21 rebounding edge. They’re also 11-of-11 at the foul line. … The Tigers have some moderate foul trouble themselves with its two bigs—Shanece McKinney and Theresa Plaisance—picking up two each. The last one on Plaisance just moments before the half looked to be a clean block against Crystal Leary.  LSU also lost shooting guard Jeanne Kenny to a possible concussion in the first half, so her absence could stress an LSU bench that’s not as deep as WVU’s.
LSU 37, WEST VIRGINIA 35 (halftime)
Danielle Ballard did a masterful job on LSU’s end-of-half possession—driving, twisting and creating space against WVU’s long defender Jess Harlee to score on a floater. Ballard has 12 at intermission to lead the home-standing Tigers. … Mountaineers point guard Linda Stepney—who knocked down two 3s after making 11 in WVU’s first 34 games—picked up her third foul with 1:43 left trying to tip a rebound. Good thing for Mike Carey his bench is deep, because he might need every bit of it tonight.
WEST VIRGINIA 27, LSU 23 (5:22 first half)
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Holmes and Christal Caldwell keyed an 8-0 run, which was part on an extended 18-6 run that proved West Virginia hasn’t panicked after LSU’s blistering start. Gosh, it really helps to have five seniors keeping their poise in a loser-go-home scenario.
LSU 21, WEST VIRGINIA 19 (7:46 first half)
Asya Bussie picked up her second foul and the WVU women are being outshot and outrebounded, and yet … it’s a one-possession game. Feels like LSU is dominating, but the scoreboard doesn’t lie. The Tigers’ eight turnovers—remember, they get loose with the basketball—have helped West Virginia weather the early storm.
LSU 17, WEST VIRGINIA 9 (11:59 first half)
Wow, did Shanece McKinney ever give LSU a dominant opening six minutes: Scoring seven points on 3-of-3 shooting and blocking four shots. And then coach Nikki Caldwell sat the senior center. I understand conserving a player’s energy, but during a stint when she’s absolutely owning the paint? … West Virginia has started 0-of-7 from 3-point range, missing mostly uncontested looks. Bria Holmes has missed three, which might not normally be alarming except for the fact she was 1-of-12 on Sunday. At one point does her confidence start to slip? At least Holmes is driving to the rim as well, the only reason she has five points.
LSU coach Nikki Caldwell has an interesting take on forgiving her team’s sloppiness: “Well, we’re going to turn it over 20 times. We joke about it with our kids because I feel as though they don’t intentionally go into games wanting to turn it over. It’s just that they have the freedom, they have the play action that allows multiple people to touch the basketball. If we wanted to limit our turnovers, all we needed to do was just keep the ball in one person’s hand and just say milk the clock, milk the clock, then go. But because we want to develop our kids … it’s about allowing our underclassmen to have that freedom and to make those mistakes because through those mistakes you will grow as a basketball player.”

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