Hightower leads No. 20 LSU over Miss. St., 76-47

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Allison Hightower scored 26 points in the last home game of her career, and No. 20 LSU closed its regular season with its fifth win in six games, 76-47 over Mississippi State on Sunday.

LaSondra Barrett added 14 points for LSU (20-8, 9-7 SEC), which raced to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes, led by 28 in the first half and 36 in the second.

Chanel Mokango scored 18 for Mississippi State (18-11, 9-7), which entered the game averaging 71.4 points but shot only 29.3 percent (17 of 58) and turned the ball over 18 times.

Mississippi State finished third and LSU fourth in the SEC, meaning both get first-round byes in the league tournament that begins Thursday.

LSU had to win to get its bye. Georgia and Vanderbilt also were 9-7 in the league, but finished out of the top four because of conference tiebreakers.

Hightower checked out of the game to a standing ovation shortly after scoring her final point on a free throw with about five minutes to go. She exchanged a high-five with head coach Van Chancellor and a hug with top assistant Bob Starkey.

The senior shooting guard from Arlington, Texas, has been LSU's leading scorer all season, averaging 18.2 points coming in. Against the Lady Bulldogs, she was 10 of 18 shooting, hitting a pair of 3s to go with an array of midrange jumpers, runners in the lane and driving layups.

Katherine Graham added nine points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Lady Tigers.

Armelie Lumanu scored 10 points for Mississippi State.

Coming out of halftime with a commanding 26-point lead, LSU kept pushing. Hightower and Barrett converted three-point plays on driving layups during a 12-0 run, capped by Graham's free throws that gave LSU a 56-20 lead with 12:45 to play.

Mississippi State went more than five minutes without a field goal during the run as the Lady Tigers turned in one of their best defensive performances of the season.

Barrett scored 11 of her points in the first half. Her first six points on a jumper, layup and free throws helped LSU jump out to a 12-0 lead.

Mississippi State did not score its first points until 14:22 remained in the first half. Little went right for the Lady Bulldogs, who shot 26 percent (7 of 27, including 0 of 5 from 3-point range) and turned the ball over 10 times in the first 20 minutes.

LSU grabbed its first 20-point lead on Destini Hughes' 3, which made it 28-8.

LSU shot 56 percent (14 of 25) and hit four of their six 3-point attempts in the first half, when Hightower scored 16 of her points. Hightower's short jumper, followed by Barrett's putback, gave LSU a 28-point lead at 42-14.

Mokango, who scored 10 points in the first half, hit her fourth inside field goal of the game to make it 42-16 at halftime.