Reese, LSU overcome sloppy play to top Rice 70-60 in women’s NCAA tournament’s first round

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey calls out from the bench during the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Rice in the women's NCAA Tournament in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, March 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey calls out from the bench during the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Rice in the women’s NCAA Tournament in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, March 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Angel Reese had 10 points and 19 rebounds, and third-seeded LSU overcame a feisty performance by No. 14 seed Rice for a 70-60 victory on Friday in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

Aneesah Morrow added 15 points, while Flau’Jae Johnson and Mikaylah Williams each scored 14 for the defending national champion Tigers (29-5), who had a hard time putting the away the Owls (19-15), in no small part because they committed a season-high 24 turnovers.

Rice surprisingly got into the NCAA Tournament by winning four straight in the American Athletic tournament after having lost their last five regular season games. And they didn’t make anything easy on LSU, which didn’t lead by more than 11 all game and was up by just six after Maya Bokunewicz’s left side 3 and Sussy Ngulefac’s layup made it 62-56 with 1:56 left.

Destiny Jackson scored 15 and Malia Fisher had 13 points and three steals for Rice. Ngulefac and Emily Klaczek each scored 10 points.

LSU never trailed and there were just two ties early in the second quarter, but LSU’s lead was just three at halftime after Klaczek’s 3 pulled Rice to 30-27. The Tigers lead was down to a single point on three occasions in the third quarter.

BIG PICTURE

Rice: The Owls played like a team with nothing to lose, were relentless and opportunistic, turning LSU’s turnovers into 16 points. They just couldn’t quite overcome their size and skill deficit with star-laden LSU and were outshot 43% to 35%.

LSU: The frontcourt of Reese and Morrow has been too much for most opponents this season and Rice was no exception. Reese registered her 24th double-double this season and 13th straight. The Tigers outrebounded Rice 42-29

UP NEXT

LSU is in the second round for the third straight season. They’re one victory away from advancing to the Albany 2 regional semifinals and two wins from possibly meeting Iowa and NCAA all-time leading scorer Caitlin Clark in a rematch of last season’s national title game.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

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