LSU outlasts Kats in season opener

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- The Sam Houston State Bearkats put three players in double figures and stayed right with the LSU Tigers in Tuesday’s season opener before falling, 66-52, at the Maravich Assembly Center.

In the debut of first-year head coach Ravon Justice, the Bearkats (0-1) trailed by 18 in the first quarter before nearly clawing all the way back, trailing by just three at the half and staying with the Tigers (1-0) until midway through the fourth quarter.

Freshman Amber Leggett showed well in her SHSU debut, putting in all 11 of her points in the first half while adding five rebounds. Dominique Maxwell and La’Sha Haynes each added 10 points, with Haynes coming up just one rebound shy of a double-double in her first game in a Bearkat uniform.

The Kats’ bench was key, outscoring LSU’s reserves by a 23-6 margin; however, the Tigers converted on 22-of-41 trips to the charity stripe while SHSU was just 11-of-22 from the stripe and 3-for-16 from 3-point range.

Ayana Mitchell turned in the biggest night for LSU, going for 20 points and 15 rebounds, five of which were on the offensive glass, to lead three Tigers in double-figure scoring.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Tigers built up a double-digit lead midway through the opening quarter, hitting eight of their first 11 shots from the field. A 3-point basket by Jenniffer Oramas and a jumper from Haynes got the Kats on the board in the opening period, but a 19-2 LSU was fueled by six SHSU turnovers that put them up 23-5 in the early going.

But then SHSU got going itself as a 3-pointer from Maxwell and a jumper from Leggett ignited a 9-0 Bearkat run to end the quarter, a run that would extend to 16-1 as it lasted midway through the second period. Leggett would eventually get the lead all the way down to just 24-21 when she converted a 3-point play to peak the run.

Leggett would put in all 11 of her points in the opening half, including each of SHSU’s final two buckets of the second quarter to push the Kats into the locker room down just 31-28.

The Tigers were able to open things up a bit in the third quarter, outscoring the Kats 21-13, while converting 11 of 14 tries at the foul line. Mitchell proved to be big in that quarter, collecting 12 points and eight boards in the third as the Tigers increased their lead to 11.

Sam Houston was still right there midway through the third after Jaylonn Walker nailed her only 3-point basket of the game, cutting the lead to 39-37 with 5:36 remaining; however, that would be the final field goal of the quarter for the Kats as LSU closed out the period on a 13-3 run.

LSU was able to keep the Kats at arm’s length the rest of the way with SHSU getting no closer than 58-47 on a short jumper by Haynes nearly four minutes into the game’s final stanza.

UP NEXT

The Kats will now return to Johnson Coliseum for their home debut, kicking off a men’s and women’s doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday against Jarvis Christian.