The Lady Tigers (13-3) improved to 4-0 in Southeastern Conference play for the fifth time in school history and the first since the 2007-08 season. The 10-game winning streak is LSU's longest since winning 14 in a row in 2007-08. LSU is one of two unbeaten teams left in conference play after Kentucky defeated Tennessee in the final seconds on Thursday night.
"With us playing at home, we want to make sure that we're sending a message that the PMAC is a very difficult place to come here and play at," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "I'm really proud of this team in really being a defensive-minded team. I'm very pleased with our effort in the second half, considering we got off to a sluggish start. Krystal Forthan came in and gave us a spark, and Bianca Lutley was very calm and poised at the point. A lot of players did some good things. It was a great win for our program."
The Gamecocks (14-3, 3-1) saw an eight-game winning streak come to an end in surrendering a season-high 58 points to LSU. It was South Carolina's 11th straight loss in the Maravich Center, dropping to 1-12 all-time in Baton Rouge.
Thursday's game clashed the SEC's two best defenses as South Carolina entered the contest with the nation's second-best scoring defense, holding opponents to 45.2 points per game. LSU ranked third nationally allowing only 46.5 points per contest.
Barrett converted 8-of-10 from the free throw line, including six straight free throws in the final four minutes following a double-technical foul on Gamecock head coach Dawn Staley, who was ejected from the game at the 3:20 mark. LSU shot 20-of-25 from the line for the game for 80 percent.
Destini Hughes continued her recent scoring spree with 11 points and freshman Krystal Forthan grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds -- 10 of those coming in the second half. Bianca Lutley provided a spark off the bench with several key shots in a seven-point effort.
South Carolina turned a 27-20 halftime lead into a 10-point advantage in the first minute of the second half, but the Lady Tigers cut the deficit to 30-26 when Forthan grabbed her own miss and scored. LSU continued to chip at the score and finally knotted the game for the first time since it was 6-6 when Lutley converted an acrobatic layup in the lane with 11:39 to go.
With the score tied at 33, the Lady Tigers went on a 10-0 run in a span of two minutes with one hustle play after another. Lutley added another layup and Forthan's dominant second half included a steal at midcourt and a transition bucket from Courtney Jones. LSU led 39-33 with 10:02 remaining in the contest.
"Both teams did what they wanted to do defensively," said Caldwell. "The thing that I felt that separated us was when we changed up our defense and Courtney Jones was on the top of our press. Our pressure really picked up a notch, and we were able to turn them over and score the basketball."
South Carolina was able to come within a point, but a 12-0 LSU run starting at the 5:47 mark put the game away. Jones grabbed a Barrett missed free throw for a putback shot. Staley was then tossed from the game at the 3:20 mark and Barrett made six straight free throws to ice the game. LSU led 53-40 on Barrett's final free throw. Hughes accounted for LSU's final five points at the line.
LSU shot 42.2 percent and the Lady Tigers maintained the nation's second-best field goal percentage defense by holding the Gamecocks to 29.6 percent from the floor.
LSU plays its next two league games on the road beginning at Florida on Sunday. Tipoff from the O'Connell Center is noon CT and the game will be televised on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) and Cox Sports Television (CST).