LSU Women's Hoops meets No. 18 Texas A&M in SEC Tournament Opene - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

LSU Women's Hoops meets No. 18 Texas A&M in SEC Tournament Opener

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Information provided by LSU Athletics

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The LSU women's basketball team gears up for postseason play and takes on No. 18 Texas A&M during Friday's quarterfinal round of the 2015 SEC Tournament held at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Tipoff is on-tap for approximately 2:30 p.m., and the game will be carried by the SEC Network. The telecast also is available on www.WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app. Cara Capuano, Gail Goestenkors and Steffi Sorensen will serve as the announcing team.

The LSU Sports Radio Network will carry the game on its flagship station Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. The radio broadcast featuring Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, also will be available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.

LSU (16-12) finished in a fourth-place tie in the SEC standings and was the beneficiary of the double bye after an 80-63 victory over then No. 12 Texas A&M to conclude the regular season. It marks the second straight season that the Lady Tigers will play their opening SEC Tournament game against the same opponent it concluded the regular season with.

“This has been a very interesting past few months when you look at the path this team have had to take to get to this place,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “They have really shown that they are resilient, and they play with a lot of courage. They have the passion and the determination to be one of the best teams in the country. They have proven that through their play and through their record. We've got to continue to take this momentum that we have into the SEC Tournament. Our goal is to really maximize our potential not only offensively but obviously defensively. We've been very good at disrupting our opponents so when you are on the road I always stress that you have to bring your defensive ‘A' game and your board play. That's what we are going to have to have for this stretch.”

LSU has won six of its eight SEC Tournament games played in Little Rock which includes the 2003 SEC Tournament Championship where Temeka Johnson was named the event's Most Valuable Player. Johnson, the all-time LSU and SEC assists leader, was named as LSU's representative and is a member of the 2015 SEC Legends Class that will be honored during this week's tournament.

The No. 4 seed also has been kind to LSU at the SEC Tournament. The Lady Tigers have secured a berth to the championship game during four of their six appearances as the No. 4 seed highlighted by the 1991 tournament title.

Texas A&M (23-8) is led by Courtney Walker and Courtney Williams, members of the All-SEC First-Team and All-SEC Second Team, respectively. They have amassed a combined 28.9 points and connected on over 40 percent of their field goal attempts. Last time out against LSU, Williams registered 19 points on an efficient 8-for-10 from the floor.

On the interior, Archiri Ade has tallied 6.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game followed by Khaalia Hillsman's 5.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Hillman tallied 10 points against LSU coupled with a 16-point and 11-rebound effort versus Missouri.

The Aggies were handed back-to-back losses to conclude the regular season following the loss of Jordan Jones due to a season-ending injury. She was the SEC's assist leader, an All-SEC Second-Team honoree and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

A&M tucked away a 57-47 victory over Auburn during Thursday's second round action. The Aggies had a balanced scoring attack as Williams (14 PTS), Walker (10 PTS), Ade (10 PTS) and Chelsea Jennings (10 PTS) reached double figures.

LSU goes as its three-guard attack goes which is headed by Danielle Ballard, DaShawn Harden and Raigyne Moncrief who has accounted for 45.5 percent of the team's points. In SEC action, those numbers rose to 53.9 percent.

Ballard, an All-SEC First-Team and All-SEC Defensive-Team pick, has ripped off double figures in 12 consecutive games. She has racked up 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.9 assists per game. All four marks ranked among the SEC's Top 10. The 3.1 steals hold the top spot on the SEC leaderboard in conference games and would ranked tied for 14th nationally if she qualified. Last time out, Ballard is coming off her third 20-point performance of the season versus Texas A&M.

Harden has posted 10.7 points and 2.0 steals per game. She returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the Kentucky game on January 18 and took advantage of her Senior Day start where she erupted for a career-high 28 points. Harden buried a career-best five three-pointers and was a flawless 5-for-5 at the free throw line. The 28 points were the most scored by a LSU player this season.

Moncrief has picked up 11.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game while starting 27 of LSU's 28 games. She has boosted her scoring average to 12.8 points and knocked down 43.4 percent of her field goal attempts over her last 12 outings. Moncrief has pumped in double figures in 10 of her last 12 appearances highlighted by a SEC career-high 21 points against Missouri on February 2.

On the interior, Sheila Boykin has garnered 6.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game during her senior season. She has started 21 of LSU's last 22 games and collected seven of her eight 10-plus point performances over that stretch. Boykin has notched a quartet of double-doubles, most recently 12 points and 12 rebounds at then No. 1 South Carolina on February 12.

LSU's bench play is headed by Jenna Deemer and Akilah Bethel. Over her last 19 games, Deemer sank 23 of her 42 baskets from three-point territory. She poured in a season's best 22 points versus Ole Miss on January 30. Bethel has produced 5.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. She has chipped in at least five points in 15 of 28 games and added at least five rebounds 14 times. Bethel turned in her only double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds at then No. 9 Texas A&M on January 11.

Rina Hill and Anne Pedersen have upped their scoring average and put together an impressive 10-game stretch to wrap up the regular season. The duo has combined for 11.7 points per game and produced a 48-of-112 shooting clip. Last time out, Hill equaled her career-high with four assists versus Texas A&M.

Stephanie Amichia (3.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG), Alliyah Fareo (0.5 PPG, 1.1 PPG), Ann Jones (3.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG) and Jasmine Rhodes (2.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG) have provided depth to LSU's rotation throughout the season. Over her last two games, Jones came away with five points against Ole Miss and hauled down five rebounds versus Texas A&M.

“This time of year, we want to really focus in on ourselves and focus in on how we are going to defend certain play action,” Caldwell said. “There are only so many things you can do against a zone – screening it, overloading it, screening the top or screening the bottom. We just making sure that we are very consistent in our game play defensively. Offensively, we are going to really spend these next couple of days on skill development. We are going to go back to the fundamentals of making layups, making free throws and making wide open jump shots. We are really just going to work on honing in and focusing in on what we do best. We still want to play this game with great pressure when we can for 94 feet, and we want to run our matchup zone.”

For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.LSUsports.net/womensbasketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/LSUwbkb, @lsuwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter, @LSUwbkb and @LSUNikkiCaldwell on Instagram.

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