BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)A bleeding upper lip with gauze stuffed under it and dislodged eyelash extension wasn’t exactly the look that the LSU sensation known as “Bayou Barbie” was going for.
Not that resembling a boxer was going to stop Angel Reese from delivering a ferocious, high-stakes performance that dismantled Michigan on both ends of the court.
“It’s always something,” said a smiling Reese, who earlier this season blocked a shot while holding one of her dislodged shoes in her other hand. “Either a lash, a contact – always got something going on – but I play through it.”
Reese had 25 points, 24 rebounds, six blocks, four assists and three steals to lead third-seeded LSU to a 66-42 victory over the No. 6 seed Wolverines on Sunday night in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
The 6-foot-3 All-America forward became the first player to have that many points and rebounds in the same NCAA Tournament game, and most of her production came after a shot to her mouth drew blood in the opening minutes.
“I knew my team needed me,” Reese said. “So, I did whatever it takes. A bloody lip and bloody mouth, I’ll figure it out.”
Alexis Morris scored 11 and LaDazhia Williams had 10 points and 10 rebounds for LSU (30-2), which never trailed and held Michigan (23-10) to its lowest point total this season.
In just their second season under coach Kim Mulkey, the Tigers advanced past the second round of the tournament for the first time since 2014 and will meet second seed Utah in the Greenville 2 regional semifinal.
“It’s not a championship, but it is definitely an accomplishment,” said Mulkey, who won three national titles as Baylor’s coach and last year coached LSU to the second round of the tournament.
“We have won one more (tournament) game than we won last year,” Mulkey continued. “And you better believe that that’s big for us in rebuilding this program.”
Laila Phelia scored 20 points for Michigan, which opened the second half with a 7-0 run to pull as close as eight points, but quickly went back down by double-digits for good after Reese’s layup and Kateri Poole’s 3.
Reese played with relentless determination, three times chasing driving Michigan players down the lane to swat their shots away from behind.
She was a menace to Michigan rebounders on both ends of the court. She grabbed 14 offensive rebounds. And after one, Emily Kiser was called for an intentional foul when she knocked Reese to the floor on a putback attempt.
LSU had 18 second-chance points to Michigan’s 2, and although both teams shot 35%, LSU got off 68 shots to Michigan’s 46.
“It was the offensive rebounding that really killed us,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “Emily is a little undersized and probably not nearly as strong as Angel, but she tried to get physical and then when she got physical, she got called for an intentional foul, which was something that she’s never gotten before in her career.”
The first quarter was a defensive struggle in which both teams looked prepared to exert as much physical force as officials would permit. After Reese got hit, she intermittently rubbed her lip and looked at her finger tips to check for blood for much the quarter. Later, she lost one of her eyelash extensions while tangled up inside with Kiser and Leigha Brown.
“I knew she was mad about her eyelashes,” said Poole, who has known Reese since before college and said she also made a remark to Reese during the game about her lip. “She’s very funny and I told her she looked like a beaver.”
Reese delivered punishment, too, flattening Kiser on a drive down the lane. Kiser drew the charge, but stayed down for several moments, placing her hand on the part of her upper body that took the blow, before teammates helped her up.
“It was super physical,” Kiser said of her matchup with Reese. “Definitely going to feel that tomorrow morning. Wish I did a better job. But yeah, she’s a great player.”
Michigan: After reaching the regional finals last season and and the regional semifinals in 2021, Michigan’s tournament ended in the second round for the first time since 2019. The Wolverines’ previous scoring low this season was 52 in a loss at Indiana on Feb. 16.
LSU: Mulkey is now 3-0 against Barnes Arico in the NCAA Tournament, with each meeting coming since 2018 and two while Mulkey was at Baylor. Outrebounded Michigan 46-26.
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