Down Goes LSU – UALR Women Upset No. 24


BATON ROUGE, La. – The UALR women’s basketball team stayed with LSU shot for shot in the first half. In the second half, the Tigers couldn’t keep up with the Trojans.

UALR dominated No. 24 LSU in every facet of the game in the second half, leading to a 70-54 upset win over the Tigers at the Maravich Center on Friday afternoon.

“This type of win gives the kids instant belief in what you’re trying to accomplish especially when you do it against a top-25-caliber team,” Coach Joe Foley said. “There are a lot of ups and downs in the season. It’s a long season. You want to get off to a good start and that helps.”

The Trojans held LSU without a field goal for more than 12 minutes in the second half in the process of building a double-digit lead. Kaitlyn Pratt led all Trojans with 15 points while Alexius Dawn (12), Taylor Gault (12) and Ka’Nesheia Cobbins (10) all scored in double figures.

Keanna Keys led the team with a career-high nine rebounds, and Shanity James added seven. Cobbins, a Baton Rouge native who grew up attending Lady Tigers games, had a team-high six assists to go along with three steals and her 10 points.

“It felt really good to beat them in their home and my home as well,” Cobbins said. “It was a different view from watching to playing. I always figured one day I would be playing on that court. It happens to be in my last year, so it’s an even better experience for me.”

LSU held a two-point advantage at the start of the second half, and the Tigers got a 30-29 lead with 17:14 remaining in the contest.

But that was the last time the Tigers would lead. Over the next 10 minutes, the Trojans went on a 26-10 run that included multiple 3-pointers from Dawn, five LSUs turnovers and no LSU field goals. When Ann Jones finally hit a jumper with 4:00 on the clock to break a stretch of 13 consecutive LSU misses, UALR held a 14-point lead and the game was all but over.

The Trojans as a whole shot 54 percent in the second half and made 16 of its 22 free-throw attempts.

“From the first to second half, we kept our composure,” Cobbins said. “We kept focused on the little things and everything that we worked on in practice. We’re learning to trust each other, and keeping our composure was probably the biggest thing.”

Louisianan-native Pratt was a big factor in the massive Trojan run, making five field goals and going a perfect 5 of 5 from the free-throw line throughout the night. As a team, UALR shot 42 percent to just 32.6 percent by LSU. The Trojans forced a total of 20 Tiger turnovers and only allowed them to pick up three assists.

Dawn looked strong in her first game with the team, draining four 3-pointers. Cobbins, playing in her first game since the end of the 2013 season, was excellent as well distributing the ball and starting fast breaks. Lexus Williams also saw action for the team, starting in her first game with the Trojans after sitting out the 2013-14 season following a transfer from SMU.

“It just felt really good to be back on the court,” Cobbins said. “My rehab went well and my preparation with preseason to get back on the court was really good.”

The Trojans have now won their season opener for the last five years. The team is now 1-1 all-time against LSU, and it got its third-ever victory against a Southeastern Conference team. The victory was the team’s first win over a nationally ranked team since 2008 when it beat No. 17/19 Oklahoma State.

“A lot of credit goes to Arkansas-Little Rock,” LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “I thought they came in here, and they really did a nice job of executing their game plan. Their defensive pressure really disrupted our offensive action when we were trying to run. They did a nice job too of distributing the basketball and players making shots. When you’re on the road, we talk about our team about making sure that we bring our defense and our board play. I thought defensively they did a really nice job of disrupting us.”

After a shaky first half, Gault got hot in the second, making four baskets total including a 3-pointer. She is now only 40 points away from second all-time at UALR.

The first half saw a very tight game with neither team holding a lead larger than four points at any time. Both squads played very tight defense, and turnovers abounded as the Tigers committed 11 and the Trojans coughed it up eight times.

UALR led for nearly nine minutes in the middle of the period, but LSU crept back into the game when the UALR foul total started creeping upward. UALR committed 11 fouls in the half, sending LSU to the line 14 times. The Tigers made 11 free throws, and they would eventually take a 26-24 lead into the break.

“It helps if we learn from it,” LSU coach Caldwell said. “We’ve got to come back tomorrow and not do the same things we did today. If they can take the loss and learn from it, then we’ll be okay in the long run. If we come back tomorrow and we’re challenged again with dribble drive and we’re not guarding it like we’ve been practicing, then it becomes compounded. Now you’re looking at another loss and another loss. But if we can really say, ‘This is one game. This does not define who we are. This is not the end of the world. There are more games to be played, and there are more games to be won.’ Every day is another opportunity. Our next game is our biggest game of the season. If they can just stay in the moment and stay focused on the task at hand, we can move forward in a positive way.”

Pratt, Cobbins and Keys all had five points for the Trojans at halftime, and seven different players scored for UALR.

The Trojans open their home schedule on Tuesday when they take on Missouri State at the Jack Stephens Center at 7 p.m.

ualr women basketball upsets LSU


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