Landers’ No. 9 Lady Bulldogs were hustling, but struggling to execute and getting frustrated.
Georgia had trouble containing LSU’s 6-foot-5 Theresa Plaisance, who had 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, and the Lady Bulldogs saw their four-game winning streak snapped, 62-54 on Sunday.
“There’s no question we played hard, and for most of the day, we played smart,” Landers said. “We didn’t hit shots and missed some good looks at the basket.
“It’s not like we played horrible, but you have to give LSU credit,” he added.
Jasmine Hassell led Georgia with 18 points and tied a career high with 12 rebounds. Tiaria Griffin had 10 points, but was one of only two double-digit scorers for Georgia, which shot only 30.1 percent (22-of-73).
Plaisance, whose late-game failure at the foul line marred an otherwise dominant 20-point outing in a last-second loss to Tennessee on Thursday, came through in the clutch this time.
She converted a strong inside move with 1:33 left to give the Lady Tigers (14-10, 5-6 Southeastern Conference) a 55-52 lead, and her defensive rebound inside the final minute forced the Lady Bulldogs (20-4, 8-3) to start fouling.
“These past couple games we’ve been playing the toughest teams in the country, and we’ve hung in there for every game and fallen short, and we finally pulled this one out,” Plaisance said. “Coming out and beating a team like Georgia is great motivation and very uplifting, and hopefully it’s going to keep us trucking for the rest of the season.”
Jeanne Kenney closed an 11-point performance with six free throws in the final 1:04 to help seal the victory after LSU had come up short in competitive outings against both the 12th-ranked Lady Vols and No. 14 Texas A&M in the previous seven days.
“We got better and better and that’s the process,” Kenney said. “We did a great job capitalizing on the good we did against Tennessee.”
LSU’s Danielle Ballard had a career-high 15 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end to keep possessions going. Adrienne Webb scored 12 points and had a pair of steals.
“We couldn’t have done it without Danielle’s rebounds, and Webb’s (scoring), and Webb’s and Danielle’s defense at the top of the key to mess them up,” Kenney said. “(The Lady Bulldogs) couldn’t figure out what to do. That’s a testament to everybody playing up top and everybody rebounding.”
LSU clung to a single-digit lead for nearly the entire second half, but had to regroup after going more than three minutes without a basket while the Lady Bulldogs used an 8-0 run to briefly surge into the lead, 40-38. Griffin’s jumper started Georgia’s run, then the Lady Bulldogs turned three straight steals into fast break layups.
Shacobia Barbee accounted for two of the steals and Hassell made two of the layups.
Plaisance, who leads the SEC in scoring, then hit a baseline jumper that sent LSU on an 8-0 run of its own.
Georgia pulled to 51-50 on Hassell’s putback, and was still as close as 53-52 when Anne Marie Armstrong scored inside with 1:47 left.
LSU shot 33.9 percent (21-of-62) but still finished with nearly nine more points than Georgia’s opponent scoring average of 53.5. The Lady Tigers also outrebounded Georgia 53-45 and outscored the Lady Bulldogs at the foul line 17-7.
Georgia was plagued by poor shooting early. Normally hitting close to 42 percent from the field, the Lady Bulldogs were only 9-of-35 (25.7 percent) in the first half, when they also had seven turnovers.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t start this game locked in like we wanted,” Landers said.
The Lady Tigers held a slim lead much of the first half before scoring six straight on Shanece McKinney’s layup, Ballard’s free throws and Derreyal Youngblood’s putback to go up by as much as 31-23 late in the period.
Webb had eight of her points in the period, hitting two 3-pointers. Youngblood, a 6-4 freshman, twice scored on putbacks in the period, once while being fouled for a three-point play, and had seven early points.
Hassell, as usual, was a force inside with five offensive rebounds and eight points in the opening 20 minutes, and the Lady Bulldogs could have been in a bigger hole if not for 13 offensive rebounds producing 17 second-chance points. But Georgia didn’t make its ninth field goal until Armstrong’s short bank shot 3 seconds before halftime, which cut LSU’s lead to 31-25.