BATON ROUGE, La. – Sophomore Daisa Alexander scored 20 points in her first career start, but Auburn could not hold a second-half lead in a 59-56 loss at LSU Thursday night.
Auburn (10-8, 1-5 SEC) led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, but a season-high 27 turnovers – eight in the fourth quarter – proved the difference in a tough road loss.
“We did not do a very good job of taking care of the basketball,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We just didn’t handle the pressure. … The foul trouble really hurt us down the stretch, having both of your point guards in foul trouble takes your leaders off the floor to run the offense.”
Alexander’s 20 points led three Tigers in double figures. Unique Thompson scored 10 points in the second half to finish with 11, and Janiah McKay finished with 10. McKay and Alexander both battled foul trouble and played most of the fourth quarter with four fouls. Thompson led Auburn with seven rebounds.
Auburn led 22-20 at halftime after an opening 20 minutes that featured a combined 27 turnovers and 15 made field goals. Alexander had 11 points in the opening half that saw Auburn lead by as many as seven points when LSU went scoreless for nearly eight minutes.
After LSU (12-6, 4-2 SEC) scored the initial bucket of the third quarter to tie the game at 22-22, Auburn went on an 11-0 run over the next 4:15. LSU would cut the lead to seven by the end of the quarter at 42-35.
The teams traded buckets for most of the fourth quarter, and Auburn had a 54-49 lead after an Alexander jumper with 3:21 to play. But Auburn made just one field goal over the final three minutes and turned the ball over on five of its last eight possessions as LSU finished the game on a 10-2 run.
Thompson made a layup with exactly a minute to play to tie the game at 56-56, but LSU’s Ayana Mitchell drove straight to the basket to put LSU back ahead 58-56. A missed LSU free throw with :03 to play gave Auburn hope, but McKay’s half-court heave hit the front of the rim.
Auburn had a higher shooting percentage at 39.2 percent (20-51), just ahead of LSU’s 38.6 percent (22-57). The two worst 3-point shooting teams in the SEC were strong in limited attempts from beyond the arc; Auburn was 4-of-6 (66.7%) while LSU was 5-of-10 (50%). LSU had 37 rebounds, two more than Auburn’s 35.
Alexander and freshman Abigayle Jackson made their first career starts as Auburn made its first lineup changes since the ULM game on Nov. 29. Jackson had four points and four rebounds in 19 minutes of action.
LSU’s Chloe Jackson led all scorers with 26 points. Raigyne Louis added 11.
Auburn continues a two-game road swing Sunday when the Tigers travel to Athens, Ga., to face the Georgia Lady Bulldogs. Game time is 2 p.m. CT with the broadcast on SEC Network and WTGZ 93.9 FM.