From LSU Sports
BATON ROUGE -- Freshman Danielle Ballard notched her first career double-double with a game-high 24 points and 12 rebounds as the LSU women's basketball team outlasted Ole Miss, 84-79, in a high-scoring Southeastern Conference opener for both teams on Thursday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Lady Tigers (10-4, 1-0) SEC led by as many as 10 points midway through the first half, but the Rebels (7-7, 0-1) rallied with 10-of-22 threes – the most by an LSU opponent this year – and 13 second-chance points.
Ballard continued to make a case for SEC Freshman of the Year, keeping plays alive with dives on the floor, offensive rebounds (six) and two steals. She was 8-of-9 from the free throw line, including two clutch makes off an offensive rebound attempt after she was fouled with 1:06 to play in the game. Those free throws put LSU ahead 82-79.
"She (Ballard) was everywhere," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "She led us in rebounding. She had 12 on the night, and half of them were on the offensive glass. I thought Bianca Lutley did a great job too of keeping some balls alive for us. Those two, coming from the guard position and crashing in, that is hard to box out. We did a good job of really getting those good looks that we needed down the stretch."
Four Lady Tiger starters finished in double-figures – a first since Jan. 18, 2009 – including 17 points from Bianca Lutley and 14 points from Adrienne Webb. Theresa Plaisance, who was shutout in the first half, scored all 12 of her points in the second stanza. Jeanne Kenney's hustle play provided six assists, a game-high four steals and seven points.
Ole Miss' Valencia McFarland, one of the top guards in the SEC, finished with 10 points and nine assists. Gracie Frizzell buried 5-of-7 threes and scored 17 points. Tia Faleru led the Rebels with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
With LSU trailing 40-39 at the half, the Lady Tigers responded with the first eight points of the second half as Plaisance came alive with two paint touch scores. Ballard's lay-up made it 47-40 LSU with 18:32 to go. The Rebels chipped away at the score and eventually tied it following Frizzell's three with 9:43 remaining.
Two minutes later, Frizzell knocked down another trey to give Ole Miss its first lead since halftime, 72-69. Plaisance followed with a jumper, while Ballard's ensuing free throws gave LSU the lead again. She stormed the boards on her own miss and got fouled.
Frizzell cut the Lady Tiger lead to 80-79 with 1:38 to go with her fifth three. That's when Ballard then made the play of the game again on the boards. Lutley misfired on a jumper, but Ballard raced from the free throw line and nearly made a putback as she was fouled. She made both free throws and it put LSU in front for good, 82-79, with 1:06 to play.
Ole Miss had a chance to tie it in the final minute, but Lutley collected a clutch steal at the top of the key to preserve the victory.
"To our team, for hanging tough down the stretch, I thought that in the last seven minutes of the game we really tightened our defense," said Caldwell. "We were a lot better on that avenue, but we also rebounded the basketball a lot better."
LSU shot 45.6 percent from the floor to Ole Miss' 44.6 percent. The teams were even on the boards with 40 rebounds apiece.
The Lady Tigers play their first road SEC game of the season at 1 p.m. CT Sunday against the Florida Gators in the O'Connell Center. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and ESPN3.com. It is also available on IPads and tablets via the Watch ESPN application.