Feb. 18, 2010

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)--Katherine Graham scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds, helping No. 23 LSU win its third straight with a 55-39 victory over No. 25 Vanderbilt on Thursday night.

Allison Hightower scored 13, while LaSondra Barrett and Courtney Jones each scored 11 for the Lady Tigers (18-7, 7-6 Southeastern Conference), who never trailed.

Jence Rhoads led Vanderbilt (18-8, 7-6) with 12 points, but the Commodores had trouble coping with LSU's defense. Vanderbilt, which entered the game shooting 46.1 percent for the season, shot 37 percent (17 of 46) against the Lady Tigers and turned the ball over 20 times. Hannah Tuomi added 11 points for the Commodores and Merideth Marsh 10.

Although Vanderbilt never led, Marsh had a chance to tie it at 29 with a pair of free throws early in the second half. She missed one and LSU started to pull away for good when Jones drained a jumper and Destini Hughes followed with a 3.

After Rhoad's jumper made it 37-33, LSU went on a 18-6 run during the final 11:26 of the game to win with ease. Hightower scored on a pair of explosive runners during the final surge, when Jones, a reserve, scored six of her points.

Before tipoff, LSU presented Graham with a basketball commemorating her triple-double (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) on Feb. 7 against Mississippi -- the third triple-double in Lady Tigers' history and first since 1995.

The shooting guard hit from outside while also sneaking into the paint for key rebounds and some easy inside baskets.

She and Hightower gave LSU a quick double-digit cushion to start the game. Hightower scored five early points, including a putback as she was fouled, and Graham added three jumpers and a fast-break layup as the Lady Tigers raced to a 13-3 lead.

Barrett's 3 made it 18-7.

Vanderbilt began clawing back when Rhoads started connecting from outside. She had eight points in the first half, hitting a pair of jumpers during a 10-2 run that pulled the Commodores to 23-22.

Graham, who scored 10 in the first half, helped LSU start to rebuild its lead with a jumper, and Barrett followed with a basket inside.

Marsh, who came in averaging 14.6 points, was held to only one field goal through the first 19 minutes. She then hit a runner in the lane to pull Vanderbilt to 27-24 at halftime.