LSU ends No. 5 Kentucky's 10-game win streak
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Right when LSU's season looked like it was slipping away, the Lady Tigers summoned the kind of end-to-end intensity that even Kentucky (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) couldn't handle.
"We just played with an attitude like we had nothing to lose, just to leave it all out there, and you saw that from everybody," LSU forward LaSondra Barrett said. "Our backs were against the wall and coach talked about all year playing through adversity, and we have the most adversity probably we ever had right now."
Adrienne Webb scored 16 of her 19 points in the second half, Barrett added 12 points, and LSU snapped Kentucky's 10-game winning streak with a 61-51 upset on Sunday.
Barrett scored all of her points in the final 20 minutes for the Lady Tigers (15-8, 5-5 Southeastern Conference), who came in having lost five of six games but rarely trailed as the Wildcats managed to shoot only 35 percent (21 of 60) and finished with their lowest scoring total of the season.
"That's really big," Webb said of holding Kentucky about 27 points below its season average. "It kind of motivates us to push harder ... and finish out this year strong."
First-year LSU coach Nikki Caldwell would have preferred to see her team play like they did against the Wildcats a little earlier in the season, and made a point of letting them know that is what she would expect as they close the regular season with six more SEC contests.
"I told them, there's no looking back. I don't want this to be a one-hit-wonder type win," Caldwell said. "This is a great win for this group because I know they've worked hard and we've come up short."
A'dia Mathies scored all of her 12 points in the second half as she tried to keep Kentucky (21-3, 10-1) unbeaten in league play. Keyla Snowden added 11 points for the Wildcats, who came in having won 13 straight SEC games dating to last season.
"We were outplayed, outcoached every way you could be," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "I just want to say how impressed I was with the effort that their kids gave. ... I have to take a lot of the blame for not having our team prepared. We clearly didn't look like we were prepared today."
Kentucky took its first and only lead when Kastine Evans' 3 made it 25-24 early in the second half. LSU grabbed the lead right back on Webb's 3. Webb gave LSU a six-point lead when she took a bounce-pass from Barrett on a baseline cut and hit a layup as she was fouled.
Webb said Kentucky had effectively denied her scoring opportunities in the first half, and she was more aggressive in the second half in terms of using back-door cuts to get open or drawing contact to get to the foul line.
The Wildcats got as close as 48-45 on the second of three 3-pointers by Snowden with 3:52 to go, but Taylor Turnbow answered with a layup that ignited an 8-0 run which she completed with two free throws.
Mathies' layup interrupted LSU's late run, but only briefly as Webb responded with a layup to make it 58-47 with 1:10 to go.
LSU was short-handed because Krystal Forsythe, one of their top reserves, had sprained her left ankle in practice a day earlier.
Caldwell said the game plan was to slow the pace and try to use LSU's height advantage and physical play to counter the quickness of a Kentucky team that came in averaging 78.3 points per game.
LSU shot nearly 57 percent (17 of 30), hit 25 of 31 free throws and outrebounded Kentucky 33-26. That was enough for the Lady Tigers to overcome 26 turnovers.
"There's good turnovers and there's bad turnovers," Caldwell said, noting that she was more concerned about the kinds of mistakes that would allow opponents to initiate fast breaks. "We had turnovers that didn't necessarily lead to their transition baskets."
Kentucky had only 2 fast-break points all game.
Webb was 6 of 9 shooting and made all six of her free throws. Guard Jeanne Kenney made two of three shots and four of five free throws, finishing with nine points and six rebounds.
LSU blocked seven shots, with Shanece McKinney swatting three, and forced 16 turnovers.
The Wildcats entered the game as a confident road team, having won their first four SEC games outside of Lexington. However, they struggled early at LSU, hitting only three of their first 16 shots while turning the ball over six times.
Caldwell had changed her usual starting lineup, inserting Turnbow and 6-foot-4 Shanece McKinney for Barrett and Courtney Jones to emphasize defense and rebounding. Matthews said his team did not respond well.
LSU "played a lot harder and took any confidence we had away quickly," Matthews said. "Their size, athleticism and their will to win was really most impressive to me."
LSU hit its first three shots, all inside, for a quick 6-0 lead and led 10-2 on Kenney's baseline jumper.
Snowden's 3 ignited a 7-0 run that pulled Kentucky to 12-11, and the Wildcats finally pulled even at 16 when Samantha Drake hit a spinning short-range floater off the glass as she was fouled for a three-point play.
Kentucky shot under 28 percent (8 of 29) for the first half. Kenney's four free throws allowed the Lady Tigers to take a 20-18 halftime lead.
2022-23 Southeastern Conference Standings