After the Ohio State Buckeyes had to wait five days to know their NCAA Tournament first-round opponent, it only took a few hours for the second round to lock in. The Scarlet & Gray take on Louisiana State University, on the LSU Tigers’ home court. Tip off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
LSU didn’t have an easy road to get there. They had a scare against Jackson State University, an HBCU from Jackson University. Coming into the game, no team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference had won an NCAA Tournament game on the women’s side. In the second quarter, it looked like the continuation of that stat was a foregone conclusion.
The first quarter was close, with the Tigers of LSU allowing the Tigers of Jackson State to stay in the contest. Down just two going into the second quarter, LSU jumped into the driver’s seat and went on a six-point and 10-point run to enter the half up 13. That led into the second half, when LSU extended their lead to 17.
Then, with 8:44 left in the third quarter, SWAC Coach of the Year Tomekia Reed was assessed a technical foul. From there, Jackson State outscored LSU 28-10, on their way to a 10-point lead halfway into the fourth quarter.
LSU went on a 19-3 run where they even lost a player for too many fouls, but it didn’t matter. While Jackson State shocked the Tigers for much of the second half, the season of power five conference basketball showed LSU’s class on the court.
Leading the Tigers in the almost upset turned comeback was graduate guard Khayla Pointer. With 00:49 left on the clock, and the game tied, Pointer hit what would be the game-winning three. It was three of her 11 fourth-quarter points, which also included the 5-foot-7 guard grabbing four rebounds, dishing four assists, and grabbing two steals.
Alongside Pointer’s performance was a double-double game by center Faustine Aifuwa. The center ended the game with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and seven blocks. Of those seven, three came in the fourth quarter as the LSU Tigers went from being in a comfortable lead to clawing back to get back into the game.
Head coach Kim Mulkey’s LSU Tigers withstood a Jackson State side that wouldn’t quit, in front of a rowdy home crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. It’s a crowd that becomes part of the game and is one of the loudest in the country.
The Tigers’ nervy win was followed by another game that people within Ohio State were keeping an eye on. The No. 12 Belmont Bears took No. 5 Oregon into double overtime before winning 73-70. In the game, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Kevin McGuff’s daughter, freshman Kilyn McGuff, had an assist and rebound in seven minutes on the court.