No. 1 South Carolina survived an intense battle against No. 9 LSU on Thursday, collecting a 76-70 comeback win to remain the nation’s lone undefeated team. The Gamecocks started the game a bit shaky, falling behind by five to mark their largest halftime deficit of the season, but once again showed they are a tough second-half team en route to a 28th straight road victory.
It was a nail-biting finish as the game was tied 70-70 with 1:37 remaining. South Carolina’s Bree Hall hit a 3-pointer to give the Gamecocks the lead with 1:14 to go, then Raven Johnson converted a layup with 24 seconds left to seal the deal. Hall was huge for the Gamecocks down the stretch, as she also drained a 3-pointer with 2:54 remaining to bring her team’s lead to 70-67.
LSU fed off the energy in Pete Maravich Assembly Center as they competed in front of an electric sold-out crowd. The Tigers took control right away and even saw a 9-0 run in the middle of the first quarter. They continued pushing and finished the first half with a 41-36 advantage, the largest halftime deficit South Carolina had seen all season.
The Gamecocks’ top two scorers, Kamilla Cardoso and Te-Hina Paopao, combined for just six points over the first two quarters. South Carolina as a whole struggled to move the ball and grab offensive rebounds before the break.
Whatever speech Dawn Staley gave her team at halftime certainly worked, however. Her team returned to the court with a lot more energy and focus in the second half. The Gamecocks kept pushing and eventually found a 63-61 lead with 5:58 remaining in the fourth quarter. Former Gamecock Aliyah Boston, now a WNBA star, was in the crowd and stood up to celebrate.
But LSU wasn’t ready to fold, and the teams continued to trade the lead. Unfortunately for Kim Mulkey’s squad, Angel Reese suffered a cramp as LSU held a 67-64 advantage. Reese was able to return to the court, but her struggles continued as she fouled out with 4:02 remaining. South Carolina outscored the Tigers 11-3 the rest of the way.
South Carolina had a balanced offensive effort with all five starters scoring in double figures, led by Chloe Kitts with 14 points. LSU also had their five starters in double digits, with Aneesah Morrow registering yet another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Reese had 15 points and eight rebounds before exiting the game.
South Carolina improved to 18-0 overall and 6-0 in the SEC, while LSU dropped to 18-3 and 5-2 in conference play.