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No. 1 South Carolina slips past LSU after Angel Reese fouls out

BATON ROUGE, La. – The key to South Carolina staying undefeated despite trailing for nearly 33 minutes Thursday night?

The 3 from Bree — Bree Hall, that is.

Two huge 3s from the junior guard — including one from the corner with 1:14 to play that broke a 70-70 tie and gave South Carolina the lead for good — helped lift the top-ranked Gamecocks to a 76-70 win over LSU in front of a packed house of 13,205.

Never mind that South Carolina, which improved to 18-0, looked out of sorts most the night, while LSU grooved to as much as an 11-point lead in a game the defending national champion Tigers mostly controlled. But when Angel Reese fouled out with 4:02 left, South Carolina saw an opening and dropped the hammer. The Gamecocks finished on an 11-3 run.

“We’re gonna play for 40 minutes, no matter if we’re down double-digits or up double-digits, we’re going to try to figure out ways to close the gap,’ South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.

‘Game came down to what it usually does: It’s just toughness, it’s experience,’ LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. ‘They made the plays to win it, it was just toughness. That was good for the SEC, two teams battling it out.’

Seven Gamecocks scored six points or more, led by Chloe Kitts, who had 14. It took Kamilla Cardoso 11 shot attempts to score 11 points, but the 6-foot-7 senior also grabbed eight rebounds, helping South Carolina win the battle of the boards 39-37. That was an especially surprising stat given that LSU dominated rebounding most of the game, but Reese’s absence definitely made a difference.

‘When you lose Angel, you lose a big part of what they do, because she touches the ball a lot and is part of them making decisions,’ Staley said.

LSU’s Flau’Jae Johnson agreed with Staley’s assessment that losing Reese hurt the Tigers. ‘That was a big hit for us. Four minutes left, that’s too much time, too much time to not have Angel Reese on the floor, she’s so experienced.’

Reese picked up her fourth foul with 8:20 left in the fourth quarter, LSU leading 57-52. She briefly hit the bench but returned only to foul out with just over four minutes to go. Mulkey said afterwards that she didn’t think she put Reese back into the game too early, but acknowledged that ‘When you don’t have Angel Reese on the floor (it) takes you out of your rhythm, takes you out of (your) confidence zone.’

Raven Johnson was also clutch for South Carolina, scoring 13, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing four assists. Her layup with 24 seconds to play made it a two possession game, and LSU freshman Mikaylah Williams couldn’t connect on a 3 to get the Tigers closer.

Johnson, who drew Reese’s fifth foul — and then hit both free throws to tie the game 67-67 — drew praise from Staley afterward.

“It was huge to get Angel out of the game,” Staley said, adding that on Johnson’s game-sealing layup “she went through her options, and then put her head down and made a play. She puts so much into the game, I’m glad the game found a way to repay her in that moment.”

Thursday was the only regular season meeting between the two teams; it’s likely they’ll meet in the SEC Tournament.

‘I’m not into moral victories, never have been. We had opportunities to win this game and we didn’t,’ Mulkey said. ‘I’m sure I’ll toss and turn all night, don’t know if I’ll sleep much.

‘We’ll learn from it. This is just one game.’

LSU vs. South Carolina highlights

LSU vs. South Carolina stats

Final score: No. 1 South Carolina 76, No. 9 LSU 70

Top-ranked South Carolina slipped past defending champion LSU in Baton Rouge, 76-70, to improve to 18-0 on the season.

LSU star Angel Reese was forced to the bench with 4:02 to go after picking up her fifth foul while attempting to stop a Raven Johnson drive. Johnson hit both free throws to tie the game, then Bree Hall knocked down a 3-pointer with 2:54 to go to put South Carolina up three. LSU’s Hailey Van Lith knotted up the game with her own 3-pointer with 1:42 to go, but Hall answered with another three on South Carolina’s next possession to put the Gamecocks up for good.

Johnson sealed the game with a layup with 24 seconds to go then knocked down a free throw with 9 seconds remaining to provide the final margin.

LSU dropped to 18-3 with the defeat. – Jace Evans

Angel Reese fouls out with 4:02 to go

Well, this might be an entirely different ball game now. Angel Reese picks up her fifth foul not a great decision to swipe at a Raven Johnson layup attempt and heads to the bench. Now the Tigers have two freshmen on the floor. Can they hold on? – Lindsay Schnell

LSU vs. South Carolina score update: Tigers jump back in front with 4:28 to go

LSU leads 67-65.

Does Mikaylah Williams know she’s a freshman? She certainly doesn’t play like one.

A 3 in the corner from Williams gives LSU a 67-65 lead after the teams traded scores. Is this game going down to the wire? – Lindsay Schnell

LSU vs. South Carolina score update: Gamecocks take first lead since game’s opening moments

South Carolina leads 63-61.

Well, after a little 6-0 Gamecocks run, South Carolina takes its first lead of the game since it went up 2-0 way back in the beginning.

With Angel Reese on the bench, LSU has taken a couple bad shots and South Carolina has been able to get into the paint easier. Reese is back in, too. – Lindsay Schnell

LSU star Angel Reese picks up fourth foul 

Now it’s getting interesting. With LSU leading 57-52, Angel Reese has just picked up her fourth foul. How long will coach Kim Mulkey keep her on the bench? Reese isn’t just the game’s leading scorer with 15 points, but a player who loves the big moment. Can South Carolina take advantage? – Lindsay Schnell

End of third quarter: LSU 56, South Carolina 52

The reason LSU is winning this game? The Tigers are going at the tempo they want, not the tempo South Carolina wants (and it’s not close).

The Gamecocks just look out of sorts, whereas the Tigers look relaxed and in a groove. There’s just one shot attempt difference between them (LSU has taken 52 shots, South Carolina 51), but LSU’s six blocks have definitely made a difference.

Kamilla Cardoso only has nine points (on nine attempts). She has to get the ball more — without burying herself too deep — if South Carolina is going to win this game. LSU, meanwhile, just needs to continue to take smart shots. It really is that simple. Continuing to win the rebounding battle (LSU is up 33 to 27 in that category) will help, too. – Lindsay Schnell

LSU vs. South Carolina score update: 3:43, third quarter

LSU leads 51-46.

South Carolina cut it to one with 7:25 to play, but LSU answered on the other end and Angel Reese blocked South Carolina’s next attempt and scored on a layup shortly after that. It seems that every time South Carolina gets close, LSU has an answer — and then some. Chloe Kitts, who has 14 points, already four over her average, is the only reliable scorer for the Gamecocks right now.

But: Reese (15 points, eight rebounds) just picked up her third foul, and might need to hang on the bench for awhile. – Lindsay Schnell

Halftime: LSU 41, South Carolina 36

In Baton Rouge, locals call LSU women’s basketball games “The Show.” It’s tough to get tickets to The Show — and based on how the Tigers played the first half vs. South Carolina, it’s understandable why.

The Tigers put on quite the show in the first half, out-rebounding South Carolina 25-17 and scoring 11 second-chance points to take a five-point halftime lead. But a buzzer-beating 3 from MiLaysia Fulwiley, who has eight points, gives South Carolina a bit of momentum. Kamilla Cardoso scored her first basket with 28 seconds left in the half, a much-needed confidence boost going into the break. The Gamecocks are going to need a lot more from her in the second half if they’re going to stay undefeated.

Also of note: The teams are a combined 3-of-11 from the free throw line. Yikes. – Lindsay Schnell

LSU vs. South Carolina score update: 4:49, second quarter

LSU leads, 34-25.

Hitting four of five field goals is a good way to stretch your lead — and that’s exactly what LSU did the first half of the second quarter. Of note: Both teams are shooting 48% from the field, but LSU has eight more shot attempts than South Carolina.

LSU star Angel Reese might have a double-double at halftime the way she’s going: The junior forward already has 11 points and seven rebounds. (Shaq would be proud.) Meanwhile, Aneesah Morrow picked up her second foul with 5:30 to play, which means we probably won’t see her again until the second half. – Lindsay Schnell

End of first quarter: LSU 24, South Carolina 18

A little 12-2 run toward the end of the quarter gives LSU a 24-18 edge after the first period, but a 3 from South Carolina guard Te-Hina Paopao at the buzzer might be what the Gamecocks need to get going.

What they also need: More scoring from Kamilla Cardoso, who averages 13.3 but has 0. (After spending last season as a super sub, Cardoso has become one of the stars for the undefeated Gamecocks this year.) Meanwhile every LSU starter has scored, led by transfer guard Aneesah Morrow, who has 10 points after 10 minutes of play.

Also of note: LSU is winning the battle of the boards early, outrebounding South Carolina 12-8, including grabbing six offensive rebounds. You know Dawn Staley is talking about that in the huddle right now. – Lindsay Schnell

LSU vs. South Carolina score update: 4:12, first quarter

Despite turning the ball over three times in the first few minutes, South Carolina trails just 12-11 at the first media timeout. LSU has gotten the Gamecocks out of rhythm a couple times on offense, but South Carolina is already shooting 71% (5-of-7) from the field. Chloe Kitts has already scored seven quick points for South Carolina. – Lindsay Schnell

Kim Mulkey outfit vs. South Carolina

Kim Mulkey, as usual, is making a statement with her outfit.

The third-year LSU coach is wearing a jacket with a design from Becky Fos, a New Orleans-based artist who has done some custom work for the Tigers’ locker room, and has a piece displayed in Mulkey’s office. Mulkey’s outfit is also a nod to Coca-Cola, the official game sponsor. 

I think we’d all like to see those outfits. – Lindsay Schnell

How to watch LSU vs. South Carolina

The game begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Predictions for LSU vs. South Carolina

Earlier this week, a bunch of experts from around the USA TODAY Network made their predictions for LSU-South Carolina, including giving a final score. I was the only one to pick the Tigers. Clearly, after a week in Baton Rouge, I’ve drank the sequined Kool-Aid.

The key to the Tigers handing the Gamecocks their first loss? I think true freshman Mikaylah Williams has to play big — and not like a freshman (which she’s been doing most of the season already, averaging 16.5 points and 5.1 rebounds). – Lindsay Schnell

South Carolina is No. 1; LSU is No. 9

The Gamecocks are ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll and have wins against four ranked opponents, by an average of 20.8 points. They are the last remaining undefeated women’s team.

LSU, who played without Angel Reese for four games earlier in the season, is ranked No. 9 and has two losses – against Colorado on Nov. 6 and Auburn on Jan. 14. – Lindsay Schnell

Caitlin Clark is ‘overrated,’ according to LSU student section

The LSU student section didn’t take too kindly to Caitlin Clark highlights being played during pregame while ESPN’s College Gameday previews the LSU-South Carolina matchup.

Fans were so irritated, in fact, that they started chanting ‘overrated!’ As you’ll remember, LSU, led by trash-talking double-double queen Angel Reese, beat Clark and Iowa for the national championship last season.

Both Clark and Reese are finalists for national player of the year. Clark, as you’ve probably heard, is on pace to break not only the NCAA women’s scoring record, but also the all-time NCAA scoring record, held by LSU legend Pete Maravich (who this arena is named after!) – Lindsay Schnell

Angel Reese says Shaq is mentor, father figure

Where’s Angel Reese? 

That was the question on everyone’s mind in November, when the Most Outstanding Player from LSU’s national title run last season went missing from the basketball court, fueling wild speculation. The Tigers went 4-0 without Reese as LSU coach Kim Mulkey, famously prickly and private, refused to give the scoop on her star player. So where was Reese? 

Probably talking to Shaq. Yes Shaq as in, Shaquille O’Neal, who at 7-foot-1, 325 pounds, is larger than life in both stature and personality, and who remains the pride of this southeastern Louisiana college town even though he hasn’t played here since 1992. They’re a natural pairing, when you think about it. – Lindsay Schnell

Read the complete story here.

Amazon Prime NIL documentary will star Angel Reese, Flau’Jae Johnson

Prime Video announced a new docuseries titled ‘The Money Game’ on Thursday. The show will follow LSU athletics with an emphasis on NIL and stars Angel Reese, Livvy Dunne, Flau’Jae Johnson and Jayden Daniels.

The docuseries is being created by Campfire Studios, Axios Entertainment and Jersey Legends, Shaquille O’Neal’s production division through Authentic Studios.

According to a news release, LSU boasts three of the top-10 NIL earners in college athletics. – Lindsay Schnell

Read more here.

Court-storming coming? LSU preparing for all scenarios

A court-storming incident last weekend involving Iowa’s Caitlin Clark − where the star guard was accidentally knocked over by an Ohio State fan sprinting to join the celebration after the No. 15 Buckeyes upset the No. 2 Hawkeyes − has sparked an interesting discussion. 

Given the growing parity and interest in women’s college basketball and how common upsets are becoming, should extra security at games be considered? 

Thursday, No. 9 LSU hosts No. 1 South Carolina in a game expected to draw a sellout crown of more than 13,000 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Secondary market tickets close to the court are listed for upwards of $1,000 and have been priced as high as $4,000. College GameDay will be on site for its pregame show. Kim Mulkey, coach of the defending national champion Tigers, said she expects “one heck of an atmosphere.” But she didn’t express concern about a potential postgame celebration getting out of hand. 

On her Tuesday radio show, she told fans: “You’re the defending national champions. Act like you’ve been there.” – Lindsay Schnell

Read the full story here.

LSU women’s basketball tickets: Not cheap

This season, after winning the 2023 national championship, LSU sold almost twice as many season tickets as it did for 2022-23. As such, the LSU-South Carolina game, arguably the biggest matchup of the regular season in all of women’s basketball, has been sold out for months.

You can still get tickets to this game — which tips in about 80 minutes — if you want. But it’s going to cost you. Good views are close to $2,000 on secondary ticket sites.

Most people will tell you that if you’re willing to wait until right before the start of an event, the prices will drop, often dramatically. But it’s a risk. – Lindsay Schnell

Gamecock great Aliyah Boston in the house

Fans are starting to stream in and we’re officially an hour from tip off.

One of the fans who got in early: Former South Carolina standout Aliyah Boston, now of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever.

Last season, after Iowa upset Boston and USC, I wrote that Boston should use her COVID year and come back for a super senior season. Instead, she was the No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft and a 2023 All-Star. She was also named the 2023 Rookie of the Year. Seems like it worked out pretty well for her. – Lindsay Schnell

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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