Despite shooting 51 percent from the floor going into the fourth quarter, the LSU women’s basketball team committed a season-high 30 turnovers that led to 35 points for Florida as the Gators defeated the Lady Tigers, 82-56, Thursday evening in the final home game of the season.
With the loss, the Lady Tigers (9-19, 4-11) finished the season series, 0-2, against the Gators.
Senior Akilah Bethel recorded her 13th game with double figures this season, finishing with 10 points. Junior Alexis Hyder led the Lady Tigers in scoring and rebounding and recorded her ninth double-double of the season, finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Down 15 to begin the fourth quarter, the Lady Tigers struggled to score, shooting 1-for-12 from the floor. Florida outscored LSU, 16-5, and controlled the entire quarter.
For the game, the Lady Tigers shot 41 percent off 20-of-49 shooting from the floor and 64 percent from the free throw line. Rina Hill and Akilah Bethel also finished in double figures for LSU, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively.
The Gators (21-7, 9-6) shot 45 percent off 31-of-69 shooting from the field, 53 percent from the charity stripe and connected on 11 three-pointers. The Gators outscored the Lady Tigers in bench points (40-10), points in the paint (36-20) and second chance points (11-6) in the game. Cassie Peoples led the Gators in scoring with 22 points. Peoples went 8-of-11 from the floor and 4-of-6 from three point range. Ronni Williams and Eleanna Christinaki also finished in double figures for the Gators, scoring 13 and 12 points respectively.
The Gators jumped out to an early 13-6 lead to begin the game. The Lady Tigers started slow but gained more momentum as the quarter went on. With 4:40 to play, LSU scored five straight points to cut the Gators lead to 13-11. Florida’s Carlie Needles responded with a long three pointer to silence the Lady Tigers offensive run for the moment, putting the Gators up 16-11. LSU continued its good shooting run, shooting 75 percent from the floor. LSU trailed Florida, 24-19.
Down five to begin the second the quarter, the Lady Tigers used a pair of free throws from Jones and Pedersen and a jumper from Hyder to tie the game at 24 with 7:38 to play. Three-point shooting kept the Gators in the lead as Christinaki hit a three pointer to put Florida back up by three, 27-24.
With 4:50 remaining in the half, both teams continued to exchange baskets. Bethel hit a jumper to bring the Lady Tigers within three. The Gators responded with two layups and a free throw in the final 1:21 to take a 40-32 lead at the half.
For the first half, the Lady Tigers shot 54 percent off 13-of-24 shooting from the field and 67 percent (6-of-9) from the free throw line. LSU, however, committed 12 turnovers that led to 15 points for the Gators. Bethel led LSU in scoring with eight points.
Three-point shooting helped Florida maintain its lead as the Gators shot 40 percent (6-of-15) from three-point range in the first half. The Gators shot 41 percent from the field and outscored the Tigers in bench points and second chance points. Christinaki and Needles led Florida in scoring, combining for 16 of the Gators 40 points.
The Gators came out strong to begin the second half, scoring six of the first eight points of the half to take a 47-34 lead. Rhodes added a basket before the Gators scored eight consecutive points to take a 55-37 advantage. Following a timeout midway through the quarter, the Lady Tigers fought back and narrowed the deficit to 12.
Florida, again, used clutch three point shooting to build its lead in the game. Peoples and Simone Westbrook nailed two three pointers before Ronni Williams added a free throw to put the Gators up 66-47. Hill added a layup for the Tigers in the final seconds of the quarter. LSU trailed UF, 66-51, at the end of the third.
Ann Pedersen, Akilah Bethel and Ann Jones were recognized before the game in honor of senior night for the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Tigers will close out the regular season on Sunday at No. 3/2 South Carolina. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.