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    Friday Women's Basketball Roundup

    FRIDAY WOMEN's BASKETBALL RESULTS
    Arkansas 81, Sam Houston State 45
    South Carolina 99, Charleston Southern 29
    Florida 93, Bethune-Cookman 65
    Kentucky 75, Marist 61
    Ole Miss 83, Jacksonville State 62
    Missouri 74, St. Louis 59
    Tennessee 67, Middle Tennessee 57
    Mississippi State 76, Houston 68
    Chattanooga 82, Alabama 70
    Vanderbilt 96, Appalachian State 53
    LSU 86, Stephen F. Austin 58

     

    Arkansas Women's Basketball Wins Opener Friday

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Junior Calli Berna coordinated a balanced offensive attack with a career-high 13 assists and three freshmen scored in double figures, as the University of Arkansas women's basketball team earned an 81-45 win in its season-opener against Sam Houston State on Friday.

    Jessica Jackson and Kelsey Brooks each scored 17 points, while McKenzie Adams poured in 16 of her own on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range to lead an efficient offensive attack for Arkansas in its home and season opener. Combined, the Razorback freshmen shot 44.8 percent from the floor and were an impressive 10-for-19 from beyond the arc for almost 58 percent.

    “I wasn’t thinking about the assists,” said Berna of her performance.  “What it tells me is that there are a lot of my teammates making baskets and I just want to do whatever the team needs so that we can be successful.”

    “We had really good shooting today,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said.  “We were balanced and I think we have some pretty happy freshmen today.”

    Feeding off the energy of a youthful Elementary Day crowd of more than 4,000 inside Bud Walton Arena, Arkansas opened the game on a 14-4 run with 55.6 percent shooting. Adams got things rolling early from beyond the arc, hitting a quick six points on back-to-back threes.

    The Razorbacks built a 29-10 lead just over midway through the first half, shooting above 50 percent as a team from both the field and three-point range. Over the stretch, five Razorbacks scored, as Jackson recorded five points, while Joey Bailey (4), Jhasmin Bowen (4), Kelsey Brooks (4) and Keira Peak (4) also tallied points.

    Arkansas finished the first half shooting 54.8 percent as a group from the floor and 55.6 percent from three-point range, taking a 45-25 lead into the locker room. Jackson finished the first half of action with 12 points and tied for the game's leading scorer through the first 20 minutes.

    There were no signs of slowing down from the Razorbacks to open the second half, coming out on a 17-9 run and swelling their lead to 62-34 just over halfway through the half. Adams led the charge with 10 points over the stretch, improving to 4-for-5 from three-point range and 16 total points.

    Nine Razorbacks scored baskets in the dominating win, as the team finished shooting 50 percent from the floor and 57.9 percent from beyond the arc.

    Much of the Arkansas offense was generated off the standout performance on defense, as the Bearkats were forced into  24 turnovers during the game. The Razorbacks scored 32 points off of turnovers alone.

    Arkansas remains home and continues its non-conference schedule hosting Oral Roberts at Bud Walton Arena on Nov. 13. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.
     



    No. 22/21 Gamecocks Dominate Charleston Southern 99-29 in Season Opener

    COLUMBIA, S.C. –No. 22/21 South Carolina (1-0) defeated Charleston Southern (0-1) 99-29 on Friday night with the program’s largest margin of victory at Colonial Life Arena. In her first collegiate action, freshman center Alaina Coates was one of four Gamecocks to reach double figures, pouring in 20 points.

    Junior center Elem Ibiam was 7-for-7 from the floor, scoring 17 points. She rounded out her line with a career-high tying five blocks as well as six rebounds and two steals. Junior forward Aleighsa Welch posted 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell swiped five steals to tie a career high and scored 12 points. Sophomore guard Khadijah Sessions netted 10 points in the balanced effort.

    The Gamecocks had 25 assists on the night. Redshirt sophomore Tina Roy dished out a career-high seven assists and sophomore guard Asia Dozier matched a career high with five.

    South Carolina shot 60.9 percent from the field in the game and out-rebounded the Buccaneers 46-25. The Gamecocks took advantage of aggressive feeds into the post, which allowed them to outscore the Buccaneers 70-6 in the paint.

    The Gamecocks manufactured 40 points off of 25 turnovers; South Carolina had just 10 turnovers on the night.

    South Carolina jumped on Charleston Southern early, racing out to a 15-0 lead. Ibiam’s imposing presence down low made it difficult for the Buccaneers to find offense. Sessions and Welch sparked the Gamecocks early as the duo combined for eight points in the run.

    Charleston Southern responded with three foul shots for its first points of the night, nearly six and a half minutes into the contest. The Gamecocks did not allow a basket until the 10:27 mark when Buccaneers senior guard Erin Bratcher scored on a jumper to end the drought.

    After a Charleston Southern basket made the score 22-8 with just under 10 minutes remaining before the break, South Carolina took control on a 30-5 run. Coates punctuated the streak, scoring the last nine points of the first half.

    South Carolina held a 52-13 lead over Charleston Southern after 20 minutes of play.

    The Gamecocks’ pressure defense forced 10 turnovers in the first half, and the offense took advantage, scoring 18 points off of the takeaways.

    To start the second half, South Carolina continued its run, going on a 21-4 surge to extend its lead to 73-17. Ibiam and Welch keyed the run with nine and four points, respectively.

    In the final two minutes, South Carolina allowed just two points and cruised to the 99-29 victory.

    Redshirt freshman guard Alyssa Mann led Charleston Southern with nine points, with Bratcher and sophomore center Monique Maximilien pulling down three rebounds a piece off the glass.

    The Gamecocks return to Colonial Life Arena for a 2 p.m., game against Louisiana Tech on Sun., Nov. 10. Stay connected to Gamecocksonline.com for more details.
     




    Seven Gators Score in Double Figures En Route to Season-Opening Win, 93-65

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - University of Florida freshman Ronni Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla.) had a historic night and seven Gators tallied a double-figure scoring effort as Florida defeated Bethune-Cookman University, 93-65, in the season-opener for both teams played at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center Friday.

    Williams came off the bench and recorded 15 points with 17 rebounds and became just the second Gator freshman to record a double-double in her UF debut. Williams, who also blocked a game-high five shots, joined All-American and U.S. Olympian Tammy Jackson, who netted 13 points and 12 rebounds against Virginia on Nov. 20, 1981.

    Friday also marked the first time in program history seven Gators scored in double-figures, as senior Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) scored a career-high-tying 15 points on 4-of-6 three-pointers, sophomore Antoinette Bannister (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored 13 in her Gator debut, sophomore Cassie Peoples (San Antonio, Texas) scored 12 in her Gator debut and sophomores January Miller (Orlando, Fla.) and Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) both added 11 points.

    Senior Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) rounded out the double-figure scoring with 10 points, while dishing eight assists, grabbing six rebounds and collecting a game-high five steals.






    Kentucky Tops Marist, 75-61

    Kastine Evans had 15 points and Janee Thompson added 13 as No. 8 Kentucky won at Marist 75-61 on Friday night.

    Kentucky shot 46.3 percent from the floor, while holding Marist to just 36.6 percent shooting.

    The Wildcats also got double-figure efforts from Jennifer O'Neill, who had 11 points, and Bria Goss, who added 10.

    Marist guard Leanne Ockenden led all scorers with 16 points.
     




    Big Second Half Sends Ole Miss Women’s Basketball to Season-Opening Victory

    OXFORD, Miss. – Trailing at halftime, the Ole Miss women’s basketball team came out of the locker room on a tear and with a 59-point second half, cruised to an 83-62 win over the visiting Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Friday (Nov. 8) night at the Tad Smith Coliseum.

    The Rebels had three players in double figures, led by a team-high 18 points from Tia Faleru. Valencia McFarland and Diara Moore had 15 and 11 points, respectively, while Kenyotta Jenkins led the way on the glass with 12 rebounds.

    “It’s a tale of two halves,” said head coach Matt Insell. “We came out in the second half, and it was all about our effort.  I’m very happy to get this first win under our belts.  The kids were nervous. We aren’t going to the postseason in November, but every game is important.  These kids played hard in the second half.”

    Trailing 35-24 at the halftime break, Ole Miss came out on fir and opened the half on a 16-2 run to tie the game 41 at the 14:49 mark of the half.  A three-point play from Danielle McCray 1:39 later would put the Rebels up 46-45, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the remainder of the contest.

    The game was certainly a tale of two halves for Ole Miss.  The Rebels struggled from the floor in the first half, shooting just 19.5 percent on 8-of-41 shooting from the floor and going 0-of-11 from the three-point line. The Gamecocks, led by Candace Morton who posted a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds, held a 13-point lead over the Rebels in the first stanza and closed the half on a 6-1 run to take a 35-24 lead into the break.

    Freshman Bretta Hart provided a spark for the Rebels off the bench in the final minutes of the first half. The rookie out of Poplarville, Miss., provided a big block and went 4-of-4 down the line to rally her squad late.

    The second half was a much different story for the Rebels, who shot 61.5 percent on 24-of-39 shooting and drained three triples. McFarland, who was scoreless in the first half, opened the scoring for Ole Miss just 48 seconds into the second half.

    Following a McFarland layup, Gracie Frizzell got involved with the jumper and from that point the basket was as big as the ocean for Ole Miss who connected on six of their next seven shots.  The shots even began to fall long range for the squad, as rookie Tianah Alvarado connected with on a three-pointer, the first of her career and the first for the Rebels this season, at the 14:49 mark.

    An old-fashioned three-point play from Moore at the 11:43 mark would give the Rebels a double-digit lead as they cruised to the first win of the Matt Insell era.

    Ole Miss is back in action at Tad Smith Coliseum on Sunday (Nov.10) when they take on Central Arkansas in non-conference action. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and it is International Students Day. Also if you bring your ticket stub from the Arkansas football game you get in FREE!
     




    Tigers Earn First Road Win at Saint Louis

    St. Louis, Mo. - Women's Basketball earned its first win of the season at Saint Louis on Friday evening (Nov. 8). The Tigers sailed to a 74-59 victory over the Billikens, led by freshman Kayla McDowell. Earning her first-career double-double, McDowell finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for Mizzou. Overall, Mizzou's crop of four newcomers accounted for 34 points in tonight's victory.

    McDowell earned the start in the season opening contest and did not disappoint as she put up a team-leading seven points in the first half and grabbed four defensive rebounds. Freshman Jordan Frericks was also a defensive asset, tallying six rebounds in the first half. Missouri dominated in the lane as the Tigers hit 18 points in the paint to the Billikens' four in the first half.

    Missouri defense started off strong, as the Tigers held off the Billikens for the first four minutes of the game. Mizzou led Saint Louis 4-0 to start off the game, and held the lead until close to halftime. Saint Louis' Sadie Stipanovich, daughter of Mizzou great, Steve Stipanovich, hit a jumper with just over two minutes in the half to bring the Billikens within two. A breakaway layup for the Billikens tied things up at 32 less than 30 seconds later. Junior Morgan Eye took control of the situation and put Mizzou back in the lead with a clutch three-pointer.

    Mizzou held on to the lead through the second half with McDowell and Frericks continuing to show their strength on the floor. Frericks finished the game just one point away from her first-career double double. The Billikens kept the pressure on the Tigers in the second half, but the Tigers capitalized on Saint Louis fouls, making 21 of 23 shots from the charity stripe in the game. Junior Bree Fowler turned it on in the second half, stepping into more of a leadership role as she scored all seven of her game points after the halftime break.

    The Tigers will open the home slate on Sunday at Mizzou Arena, tipping off against SIUE at 2 p.m.

    No. 4 Lady Vols Rally To Win Opener, 67-57
            
    MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- A year after opening the season with a road loss to an in-state foe, the Lady Vols were determined to not let that same predicament happen again.

    After the first 20 minutes at the Murphy Center on Friday night, the fourth-ranked Lady Vols were once again in a perilous situation.

    But a furious charge to begin the second half made sure Holly Warlick's team didn't have a repeat of last season's opener as Tennessee played stout defense while getting its shooting in gear in the final 20 minutes for a 67-57 victory over Middle Tennessee.

    The Orange & White were serenaded with "It's Great To Be A Tennessee Vol" as the time expired with the Lady Vols moving to 1-0.

    Tennessee trailed 34-22 at halftime before reeling off the first 14 points of the second half to surge into the lead at 36-34 with 14 minutes left in regulation.

    The game stayed within one possession for the next five minutes before Tennessee was able to secure a comfortable advantage.

    Junior Isabelle Harison led Tennessee with 13 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Junior guard Ariel Massengale scored 12 points and handed out five assists.

    Freshman Mercedes Russell tallied 11 points in her debut game with the Lady Vols. In her return to the court after missing most of last season with an injury, Andraya Carter added 10 points including a pair of clutch 3-pointers.

    Despite a tough shooting night, Cierra Burdick grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds as Tennessee out rebounded the Blue Raiders, 46-44.

    UT's top two scorers from a year ago: Meighan Simmons (9 points) and Bashara Graves (4 points) were limited to a total of 13 points. Last season, the pair combined to average 30 points per contest.
     
    MT was led by Ebony Rowe, who tallied 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Shanice Cason also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Raiders (0-1).

    Russell's jumper with 13:58 left in the second half gave Tennessee a 36-34 lead, the team's first edge since 10-9 midway in the first half.

    After Middle Tennessee briefly regained the lead, the Lady Vols took the lead for good on a jumper by Harrison with 9:39 left in regulation. The lead moved to six on a 3-pointer by Carter with 8:18 on the clock. The lead steadily moved to as large as 10. A pair of free throws by Massengale gave UT a 57-47 lead with 4:12 left in the game.

    MT continued to pressure in the final minute, cutting its deficit to five points on a pair of free throws by Cason with 25 seconds left.

    The Lady Vols' defense in the second half was outstanding, MT was limited to just 6-of-29 from the floor for 20.7 percent.

    Tennessee shot 36.1 for the game including 46.4 in the second half as the Lady Vols outscored Middle, 45-23 in the final 20 minutes.

    Last season, Tennessee suffered a stunning 80-71 loss at Chattanooga in the first game of Warlick's tenure as UT's head coach. The Lady Vols rebounded to seven games in a row and finished the season 27-8, advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight.

    Fast forward to 2013-14, and Tennessee will take its 1-0 record on the road to #12 North Carolina to play the Tar Heels on Monday, Nov. 11 at 9 p.m., as part of ESPN's 24-Hour Marathon of Basketball to kickoff the new season.
     



    Bulldogs Open Season With 76-68 Win At Houston

    HOUSTON, Texas – Mississippi State won its 10th straight season opener with a hard-earned 76-68 win over Houston in women’s basketball action Friday night at Hofheinz Pavilion.

    Freshman Breanna Richardson led the MSU offensive attack with 14 points. Kendra Grant added 13 points, including 11 in the second half, as MSU won while playing a season opener on the road for the first time since 2003.

    “I thought our kids really battled through some adversity and foul trouble tonight,” MSU second-year head coach Vic Schaefer said. “To have five kids in double figures speaks a lot to our balance and skill set. I was impressed that our kids, in their youth and inexperience, didn’t get rattled and hung in there all night.”

    Junior Savannah Carter added 12 points in her Maroon and White debut and fell one rebound shy of collecting a double-double. Sherise Williams added 11 points and nine bounds as well. Martha Alwal added 10 points and seven rebounds, despite fouling out in the early stages of the second half.

    The Bulldogs finished with a plus-10 rebounding advantage and never trailed after erasing an early 3-2 lead by the hosts.

    A bucket by Alwal put the Maroon and White in the lead for good and also sparked a 14-0 run. Richardson scored six of her eight first-half points during that run. The Bulldogs held the Cougars to one field goal over the first seven minutes-plus and led 16-3.

    Houston answered with a 9-0 run only to see MSU push the lead back to double digits with six points of its own. Down 22-11, the Cougars turned up the defensive pressure and benefited from foul issues for the Bulldogs to close within 31-29 at the intermission.

    Like they did in the opening half, the Bulldogs started the second stanza with a very strong push. MSU opened the half with a 14-3 run and ran the lead to 45-32 with 16:19 left.

    Carter and Grant each added four points during the run, which was capped by the first collegiate points from Dominique Dillingham, a native of nearby Spring, Texas.

    For MSU, Katia May set the tone from the point guard position. A senior from York, Ala., May had a career-high 11 assists with no turnovers.

    “It starts with your point guard and 11 assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes is a heck of a night,” Schaefer said. “I’m going to say she (May) is probably leading the country in assist-turnover ratio. That’s something (assistant coach) Aqua (Franklin) has worked very hard with her on. Our post players had 27 of our 31 points at halftime and (associated head coach) Johnnie Harris had done a really good job working with them.”

    For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 28 of 75 shots from the field (37.3 percent), 1 of 7 shots from 3-point range (14.3 percent) and 19 of 30 shots from the foul line (63.3 percent). The Cougars hit 18 of 57 shots from the field (31.6 percent), 7 of 14 shots from 3-point range (50.0 percent) and 25 of 39 shots from the free throw line (64.1 percent).

    MSU held a 54-44 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 19 assists and 17 turnovers, while the Cougars had 12 assists and 22 turnovers.

    Houston received 18 second-half points from Jessieka Parker, 12 points from Tyler Gilbert and 10 points from Marissa Ashton.

    MSU will open the home portion of its schedule by playing host to Jackson State Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.
     




    Alabama Women’s Basketball Drops Season Opener at Chattanooga, 82-70

    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Shafontaye Myers led four Alabama players in double figures with 19 points, but a big first half from Chattanooga helped the Lady Mocs hold on for the 82-70 win in women’s basketball action Friday night at McKenzie Arena. With the loss, the Crimson Tide starts its season 0-1, while the win puts Chattanooga at 1-0.

    Joining Myers in double-figure points for Alabama was Nikki Hegstetter with a career-high 16, Daisha Simmons, who had 15, and Ashley Williams, who contributed 10. Myers also notched a team-best six rebounds in addition to four assists. The Lady Mocs were led by Taylor Hall’s 24-point performance, while Faith Dupree collected the game’s lone double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

    Chattanooga led from the start, scoring its first basket at the 18:44 mark off a jumper from Hall. The game remained close until a slew of three-pointers gave the Mocs a 37-19 advantage with 3:54 remaining in half. Chattanooga would head into the break leading 45-21.

    In the second half, Alabama began to find its offensive groove and used an 18-7 run to pull within 12 before running out of clock. Alabama would outscore the Mocs 49-37 over the final 20 minutes of play.

    For the game, the Lady Mocs shot 48.3 percent (29-60) from the floor and were 81.8 percent (18-22) from the free throw line. The Tide hit 46.9 percent (30-64) if its attempts in the game, including 62.5 percent (20-32) in the second half. Chattanooga edged out Alabama in rebounds, 36-34.

    Next up, the Tide heads to Nebraska to take on the 17th-ranked Cornhuskers on Monday, Nov. 11. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 p.m. CT.
     




    Balanced attack and hot shooting carries 'Dores past Appalachian State

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. - On a day the Commodores honored Head Coach Melanie Balcomb before the game for becoming the school's all-time wins leader, it was only fitting that Vanderbilt would put together a textbook offensive game - something Commodore fans have become accustomed to under the 12th-year head coach.

    With five players scoring in double figures, led by freshman Rebekah Dahlman's 23, Vanderbilt (1-0) routed Appalachian State (0-1) 96-53 Friday at Memorial Gymnasium as the Commodores opened the 2013-14 season in resounding fashion. Vanderbilt led by 25 points in the first half and did not let off the gas in the second half, leading by as many as 48 points and rolling to its 28th straight win in a home opener. The Commodores have now won eight straight season openers.

    Balcomb became Vanderbilt's wins leader in last year's home finale against Auburn. The Commodores went on to finish 2012-13 with a 21-12 record after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Like any new season, there were questions after losing two starters off last year's squad.

    Although it was just one game, the answers to some of those questions seemed to become more apparent through the efforts of a balanced scoring attack that was not reliant on preseason All-SEC guards Christina Foggie and Jasmine Lister. The duo each scored 10 points, but played sparingly in the second half with the game out of reach.

    With the senior leaders on the bench, Vanderbilt got 23 points from Dahlman and 19 points from sophomore guard Jasmine Jenkins. Freshman forward Marqu'es Webb added 13 points and joined Dahlman in Vanderbilt's starting lineup.

    It was the first time Vanderbilt had five players in double figures since last January 3 against Mississippi State.

    It was a balanced attack, but it was Dahlman who stood out the most. She went 8-of-10 from the floor and 6-of-7 from long range. She also collected four rebounds and dished out two assists.

    "I was teasing (Rebekah) because I tell everyone what a great defender she is, about her engine and her energy, and I brought her here for her defense, but let's be real, she scored more points in Minnesota than any girl in their history," Balcomb said. "She just knows how to score, and she'll keep scoring if you let her, and they let her keep shooting. She has a lot of confidence on both ends of the floor and it was fun to watch."

    As a team, the Commodores shot a blistering 57.1 percent from the floor, including 66.7 percent from the three-point line. Additionally, Vanderbilt was able to get to the free-throw line 34 times and outscored Appalachian State 37-11 in points off turnovers. The Commodores forced 26 miscues, while committing 19.

    Vanderbilt not only got the job done on the offensive end, but also defensively. Appalachian State was held to just 29.7 percent shooting in the first half. Vanderbilt also held the Mountaineers without a field goal for nearly 11 minutes in a span that lasted from the 6:00 mark of the first half until 15:18 remained in the second half.

    But not all was perfect on this night for the Commodores. Appalachian State outrebounded Vanderbilt 37-36 and collected 22 offensive rebounds.

    "We have to check out, we have to know that we are going to rebound whether we're shooting the ball well or not," Balcomb added. "We gave up 14 offensive rebounds in that second half and we can't let that happen against a team that's obviously smaller than us and less athletic than us. We have to take more pride in our defense and taking care of the basketball."

    Appalachian State kept the game close early and were within three with 13:41 remaining in the half before Vanderbilt went on an 11-2 run to take a 26-14 lead with 8:52 to go in the half. Vanderbilt would only widen the lead from there, outscoring the Mountaineers 17-4 heading into the locker room to hold a 51-26 advantage at the half. Vanderbilt led by as many as 27 points in the first half. Vanderbilt's advantage was aided by outscoring Appalachian State 18-0 off turnovers in the half.

    The Commodores were paced by Dahlman's 14 first-half points. Foggie also scored 10 in the half.

    Vanderbilt returns to the floor at 7 p.m. Monday when Western Kentucky visits Memorial Gym. In recognition of Veterans Day, Vanderbilt is offering all active and retired members of the armed forces free tickets to the game. Active and retired military personnel can secure their tickets to the game by emailing Allison Bradley at allison.bradley@vanderbilt.edu by noon on Monday.
     




    Lady Tigers Win Season Opener Over SFA, 86-58

    BATON ROUGE – Junior guard DaShawn Harden scored 20 points in her debut and led a balanced up-tempo attack as the 15th-ranked LSU women’s basketball team won the Sue Gunter Classic and advanced in the preseason WNIT with an 86-58 season-opening win over Stephen F. Austin on Friday night in the Maravich Center.

    The Lady Tigers (1-0) will now host St. Joseph’s in the second round of the preseason WNIT at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Hawks were an 85-57 winner over Mount St. Mary’s on Friday night in its opener.

    Harden was one of four Lady Tigers who finished with double-figure scoring as LSU shot 49.3 percent from the floor and dished out 19 assists. Harden, a junior college All-American a year ago, shot 8-of-14 from the perimeter and was 4-of-6 from three-point land.

    “She can put the ball in the hole, and she does a great job of making it easy for her teammates because she spaces well,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “For us to have 19 assists, I thought our guards did a good job of trying to find her.”

    Senior forward Theresa Plaisance, a 2014 National Player of the Year candidate, got off to a solid start making her first four shots and finishing with 18 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Danielle Ballard poured in 18 points and dished out six assists with three steals. Freshman Raigyne Moncrief added 10 points, six assists and three steals in her debut.

    Friday night’s season-opener was dedicated to the late Sue Gunter, who spent a combined 40 seasons as head coach at both Stephen F. Austin and LSU. The Naismith Hall of Famer won 708 games and led the Lady Tigers to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances.

    Gunter would have liked what she saw on Friday when the Lady Tigers built a 46-29 lead at the half. Harden nailed three treys in the first stanza. Senior center Shanece McKinney made the highlight play of the first half when she rejected a shot on the defensive end, ran the floor and converted an old-fashioned three-point play.

    The Ladyjacks (0-1) then showed why they are picked to win the Southland Conference with their experience as they crawled back from a 20-point deficit in the second half. LSU led 51-31 and managed only one field goal over the next five minutes. SFA put together an 18-5 spurt, a 9-0 run during that time to slice the Lady Tiger advantage to 53-48.

    Ballard then set the tone for the remainder of the game with her quickness and hustle plays. She scored five points during an 11-0 run as LSU took firm control. Freshman Rina Hill made a steal at the top of the key and raced the other way for a lay-up. Plaisance converted a three-point play. Harden’s three from the right wing put LSU up 74-52 with 6:27 to go. The Lady Tigers’ depth wore the Ladyjacks down the rest of the way.

    “Stephen F. Austin, they’re a very competitive team,” said Caldwell. “I thought they did an incredible job of attacking us off the bounce. I was proud of our team for adjusting. We were able to go deep into our bench. Rina Hill did well in the second half with her defensive presence. I also liked that we were able to use the most of our lineup.

    SFA shot 34.4 percent for the game and committed 23 turnovers, which led to 18 LSU points. The Lady Tigers racked up 12 steals and out-rebounded the Ladyjacks, 45-37.

    SFA’s Porsha Roberts finished with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds.