LSU women's basketball silences Hawaii with dominant defense in March Madness win
BATON ROUGE – If LSU women's basketball and coach Kim Mulkey were committed to anything since a loss to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament semifinals nearly two weeks ago, it was to the defensive end.
From Angel Reese to freshman guard Flau'jae Johnson and to reserves Kateri Poole, the entire No. 3 Tigers squad was active on defense Friday, limiting No. 14 Hawaii's offense en route to rolling to a 73-50 victory in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU (29-2) advances to take on No. 6 Michigan (23-9) in the round of 32 Sunday (6:30 p.m., ESPN).
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Kim Mulkey touts defense. LSU women's basketball embodied it against Hawaii
Holding the Rainbow Wahine (18-15) to 30% shooting is one thing. But how the Tigers were doing it – and who – raises eyebrows considering the stage.
LSU forced the Wahine into more turnovers (12) than made field goals (eight) as it led 35-22 at halftime. In the opening period, Johnson had two steals, scoring four points off of them, and she had a block. Sophomore star forward Reese pitched in two of the Tigers' three blocks.
But Mulkey's bunch was forcing shot-clock violations and the steals disrupted Hawaii's offensive rhythm of putting up plenty of shots from the perimeter, where it went 7 of 32. Hawaii had 21 turnovers for the game.
Angel Reese helped Tigers break down the zone
The Rainbow Wahine knew they were at a severe disadvantage in the paint with Kallin Spiller trying to contend with what Reese brings to both ends of the floor.
The 6-4 forward allowed LSU to break down Hawaii's 2-3 zone defense with efficient offense, in which she recorded her 29th double-double on the season with 34 points and 14 rebounds, as senior guard Alexis Morris and others kept feeding her the ball inside.
Reese would find opportunities to pass out to open teammates, eventually leading to good shots.
What's next for LSU women's basketball in March Madness
Michigan defeated No. 11 UNLV 71-59 in the early game Friday.
A win by LSU sends the Tigers to regional site in Greenville, South Carolina, for the Sweet 16.
Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.