Kim Mulkey says Hailey Van Lith discourse ‘needs to stop’ after LSU win

LSU coach Kim Mulkey addressed the recent criticism that guard Hailey Van Lith has received, calling for it to end as skeptics continue to question her role within the Tigers offense

LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey has blasted the complaints surrounding guard Hailey Van Lith as she adjusts to a new role for the Tigers.

Mulkey addressed the skepticism surrounding her point guard after the No. 13 ranked Tigers secured a 75-60 victory over Tennessee. Van Lith showcased her ability to command the offense by scoring a game-high 26 points.

“Hailey’s taken a lot of criticism, and it needs to stop,” Mulkey said. “She’s learning a new position. She’s on the top team in the country, the defending national champions. She’s having to play the point guard, and today, she moved to the off-guard. She had zero, and you write that big, she had zero turnovers in almost 37 minutes of play. That’s the most important stat in my eyes.”

Van Lith’s scoring output marked her highest tally of the season. Nine of her points were scored within the game’s final five minutes, confirming her coach’s belief that she can perform under pressure. Additionally, she contributed three assists and grabbed seven rebounds during the game.

Concerns surfaced within the Tigers fanbase regarding Van Lith’s ball control leading up to the Tennessee game. Observers of the team on social media have raised questions about her ability to effectively run the offense, find spacing while featuring Angel Reese, and her overall fit with the team.

Despite her struggles protecting the ball, the team has managed to maintain its streak, sitting second in the SEC standings. Throughout the team’s six-game winning stretch, the senior guard has committed 15 turnovers. Van Lith is currently averaging 2.9 turnovers per game this season, compared to 4.0 assists, both team highs.

Van Lith has shared primary ball-handling responsibilities with Last-Tear Poa, who has predominantly assumed the role this season. Poa has appeared in every game for the Tigers this season as a central point to the team’s performance.

Hailey Van Lith drives to the basket against Tennessee
Van Lith scored a season-high with zero turnovers against the Vols

In addition to Van Lith’s season-high performance, the game against Tennessee was also historic for Reese, as she became the sixth LSU player to surpass 2,000 points in her career. Reese achieved this milestone while recording a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 15 rebounds during the game.

Reese’s 2006 career points put just five players ahead of her on LSU’s all-time list. The notable list includes Joyce Walker [2,906 points], Seimone Augustus [2,702 points], Julie Gross [2,488 points], Cornelia Gayden [2,451 points], and Sylvia Fowles [2,234 points]. Reese achieved this milestone over two teams, solidifying her place among LSU’s all-time scoring greats.

Reese has consistently posted career statistics, averaging 18.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game. Before joining the Tigers, Reese played for Maryland, where she averaged 17.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.1 blocks during the 2021-22 season and 10 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 steals, and 1.3 blocks during the 2020-21 season.

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