LSU women face daunting defensive task with Oklahoma’s perimeter shooting up next

2 months ago The Advocate 0

LSU women’s basketball has always been a team that thrives on its defense, and this season the Lady Tigers are finding ways to let that defense drive their offense as well.

Forward Faustine Aifuwa said it’s all about getting stops and scoring on the other side of the court in transition. More stops equals more possessions, she said.

“Pace,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “We want to up-tempo, push the ball. Pace of the game is where we feel like what can maximize our potential in the half court. When we play with our post game, and that to me has been where we’ve got to get better.”

For Lady Tigers, No. 25 ranking represents a positive step — but only a step

That has driven the Lady Tigers to a seven-game win streak since a loss to No. 12 Florida State on Nov. 9. Fargas said that after the game, they were focused on the positive that they could take from it, instead of focusing on the loss itself.

Aifuwa said the loss felt like a “slap in the face” and they realized how close they were to playing like a complete team.

“We realized that we just have to put the extra work in and go play a little bit harder and fix the little things,” Aifuwa said. “Free throws, rebounds, getting our defensive execution. Making sure people don’t get shots off and being aware of the shooters. The little things like that and kind of taking care of it practice by practice and it shows in the game.”

Those little things include coming out in the third quarter with the same energy that they went into halftime with. Fargas said it’s just been a changed mindset for the Lady Tigers as they make a point to stick to the game plan.

Khayla Pointer leads LSU women to tournament title

The Tigers have a new challenge as they face Oklahoma (4-4) on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

This is the first time the two programs have met in women’s basketball and the Lady Tigers’ fourth year in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. They are 2-1 in these games with wins over TCU in 2016, Texas Tech in 2017 and a loss to Kansas in 2018.

Despite its record, Aifuwa said that Oklahoma is similar to many teams in the SEC because of how fast they play and how they run in transition. Oklahoma guards Taylor Robertson and Ana Llanusa are combining for 38.1 points per game.

“They’re obviously a well-coached team and they have players on the perimeter that can really shoot the ball well,” Fargas said. “We have to make sure that we’re doing our part because we’re playing a team that attempted 35 3’s a game.

“They’ve got a young lady — Robertson — that is probably the best 3-point specialist that we’ve faced this season. It doesn’t take a lot of time for her to get the shot off. She doesn’t need a lot of space, she has range. She’s shooting an unbelievable percentage from the 3-point line.”

LSU women’s basketball rolls past Nicholls State

LSU has struggled with defending the 3-point shot at points this season, but Aifuwa said it just comes down to a lack of awareness. The Tigers, when they’re locked in and have a game plan, have been able to defend the 3 easily and get stops.

“Taking care of the basketball is always going to be key,” Fargas said. “We’ve got to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball in transition. We’re turning the ball over way to many possessions in transition. I like that we’re running the basketball and multiple players are able to handle the basketball and I think that’s what makes our transition game so good. Then we’ve got to be very much in tune to having ball security.”