GREENVILLE, S.C. – In Coach Kim Mulkey’s second season in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana native has the Tigers on the doorstep of reaching the Final Four as LSU will face Miami Sunday at 6:10 p.m. CT on ESPN in the Elite Eight at Bon Secours Arena.
Alexis Morris, who made the game-clinching free throws late Friday against Utah, is the only returning contributor from last year’s team that went 26-6 and reached the second-round of the NCAA Tournament when Coach Mulkey was named AP National Coach of the Year. The Tigers added four freshmen and five transfers – nine new players – heading into her second season leading the program and the team has pieced it together to go further than any other LSU team throughout the past 15 years.
“They allow me to coach them, and I’ve got some strong personalities on this team,” Coach Mulkey said. “I’ve said it all along; I don’t care, just bring me a competitor. I can handle a strong personality. A lot of coaches don’t want to coach strong personalities. They don’t want to deal with things. I’ve been doing it long enough; I’ve seen it all. If they love basketball and they’re a competitor, I can coach them. We’ve got some competitors.”
ESPN will broadcast the game with Courtney Lyle, Carolyn Peck and Brooke Weisbrod. Patrick Wright and Shaeeta Williams will call the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network, 100.7 FM in Baton Rouge.
In addition to Morris, the freshmen and transfers have come together to form a team that is athletic, quick, skilled and physical. Angel Reese has been the star in her first season at LSU. In the Sweet Sixteen she recorded her 31st double-double of the season the tie the SEC record. With massive games also in the first two round of the tournament, Reese now has 76 points, 51 rebounds, 12 blocks and 7 steals in the NCAA Tournament – the only NBA, WNBA, men’s or women’s DI player to do such a thing in a three game stretch over the past 20 seasons.
“We keep believing and keep believing,” said Reese who was the top ranked transfer last offseason. “We’ve been through so much throughout the season and just being able to be in this moment right now, I’m having so much excitement, but knowing that there’s more. There’s more that can be done.”
LaDazhia Williams, also in her first year at LSU, played her best game at LSU on Friday in the Sweet Sixteen against Utah. She had 24 points on 11-14 shooting to guide the Tigers into the Elite Eight.
Miami, a nine-seed, is the lowest seeded team left in the tournament. The Hurricanes knocked off the No. 1 seed in the Greenville 1 region in round two, sending Indiana home. Now they are in the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
“I don’t like to use the word Cinderella because Katie (Meier) has been there a long time and has had good teams,” Coach Mulkey said. “But when you beat the No. 1 team on their floor like they did against Indiana, that grabs your attention. You’ve just got to prepare for a lot of things because of athleticism and quickness.”
The Hurricanes have a good defense that plays a full-court press most of the game. That press helped them move past Villanova on Friday in the Sweet Sixteen. Jasmyne Roberts had 26 points during Friday’s win and Destiny Harden, who made a last-second shot to defeat Indiana, had 15 points and nine rebounds on Friday.
(Press release provided by LSU Athletics)