BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU coach Kim Mulkey has the Tigers one victory shy of tying the best start in program history in just her second season since leaving behind the powerhouse she built at Baylor to return to her native state.
Angel Reese had 21 points and 17 rebounds to maintain her streak of double-doubles in every game this season, and ninth-ranked LSU improved to 14-0 with an 88-63 victory over Vanderbilt on Sunday.
Mulkey sounds happy to be part of LSU history as long as no one on her staff or roster is focused on it, or really even talking about it.
“I don’t know that it means anything, honestly, other than we’re focused on the next game,” Mulkey said. “Should that happen, then y'all write about it. We won't do much talking about it in the locker room."
Alexis Morris had 15 points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Tigers (14-0, 2-0 SEC) a 70-47 lead early in the fourth quarter, to go with her career-high 12 assists and three steals.
“The challenge is having to switch my mindset and stop being so focused on scoring,” Morris said after her first career double-double. “I think I'm more happy with the assist stat line than just points. I have more fun when my teammates are scoring.
“I do still love scoring,” Marris added. “It's just not my role this year.”
That's because LSU is getting considerable offense from Reese, a Maryland transfer, and freshman guard Flau'jae Johnson, who scored 20 points, giving her 10 or more points in four of her last five games.
Reese produced despite being swarmed by Vanderbilt defenders and missing 10 of 18 shots.
“That's respect," Mulkey said of Vandy's defensive approach to Reese. "She still had a double-double. She still did her job. You miss some, so be it.”
Ciaja Harbison scored 27 points for Vanderbilt (9-7, 0-2), eclipsing the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season. But the Commodores struggled to find scoring otherwise, hitting 35.5% (22 of 62) of their shots.
LaDazhia Williams scored 12 points and blocked four shots for LSU, which dominated inside, outrebounding Vanderbilt 53-22 and outscoring the Commodores 48-18 in the paint.
“There are some things we are going to have to address if we’re going to continue to be competitive in our league. No. 1, obviously, is rebounding,” Vanderbilt coach Shae Ralph said, noting that the Commodores have been outrebounded by 20 or more in two straight games. “That’s just not acceptable.”
LSU took the lead for good when Reese's free throws made it 17-15 late in the first quarter.
The Tigers led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter when Jasmin Carson's 3-pointer made it 38-26 and held a 45-43 lead at halftime after Morris' free throws.
Vanderbilt: Harbison hit two of three 3-point attempts, scored seven of her points on nine free throws and also had seven assists. ... Jada Brown scored nine points, hitting three 3-pointers. ... Shot 9 of 21 from 3-point range as a team.
LSU: This is the third time LSU has opened a season with 14 victories and the first time since the 2005-06 season. The best start in program history is 15-0 in the 2002-03 season, when eight-time WNBA All-Star Seimone Augustus was a freshman. ... Shot 53% (34 of 64). ... LSU now has 12 victories by 20 or more points this season, including in each of its first two SEC games this season.
Vanderbilt: At Mississippi on Thursday.
LSU: Hosts Texas A&M on Thursday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25