BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU star Angel Reese couldn’t seem to make a shot, and the Tigers turned the ball over a season-high 24 times.

The defending champions just had to be thankful — if not relieved — that they’re good enough to overcome even that.

Reese overcame 1-of-7 shooting to finish with 10 points and 19 rebounds, and third-seeded LSU fended off a feisty performance by No. 14 seed Rice for a 70-60 victory Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“Ugly win. It’s March. Survive and advance,” said Reese, who scored eight points on foul shots. “I couldn’t make anything tonight. But it’s like that; it happens sometimes.

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“If you’re not impacting the game offensively, then there’s other things you can do,” Reese added. “Defense and rebounding is something that I also try to bring to the table as much as I can.”

Aneesah Morrow added 15 points, while Flau’Jae Johnson and Mikaylah Williams each scored 14 for the Tigers (29-5), who advanced to meet Middle Tennessee (30-4) in the second round Sunday.

LSU had a hard time putting the Owls (19-15) away. Reese turned the ball over six times. Williams and fellow guard Hailey Van Lith each committed five turnovers, and reserve point guard Last-Tear Poa, who was coming back from a concussion, had three turnovers.

“It almost became comical because I thought are they in a contest to see who has the most turnovers,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “To emphasize the good things, we did hold them below 39.9 [% shooting]. You’re going to win games when you do that. ... We got to the foul line, like we have all year.”

Rice got into the tournament by winning four straight in the American Athletic tournament after having lost its last five regular-season games. The Owls didn’t make anything easy on LSU, which never led by more than 11 and was up by just six after Maya Bokunewicz’s 3 and Sussy Ngulefac’s layup made it 62-56 with 1:56 left.

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“We were not afraid of the moment, and we were ready to play,” Rice coach Lindsay Edmonds said. “We proved that we were here and that we were not going to just be someone that they were going to be able to run over.”

Destiny Jackson scored 15 and Malia Fisher had 13 points and three steals for Rice. Ngulefac and Emily Klaczek each scored 10 points.

LSU never trailed and there were just two ties early in the second quarter, but the lead was just three at halftime after Klaczek’s 3 pulled Rice to 30-27. It was down to a single point on three occasions in the third quarter.

“They’re not a bad team. It shouldn’t have been that close though,” Johnson said, but added that she was “not concerned at all.”

“We just got to go watch film and go be better,” Johnson said. “A lot of this was self-inflicted. So we can fix it.”

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The frontcourt of Reese and Morrow has been too much for most opponents this season, and Rice was no exception. Reese registered her 24th double-double this season and 13th straight. The Tigers outrebounded Rice 42-29

LSU is in the second round for the third straight season. It is one victory away from advancing to the Albany 2 regional semifinals and two wins from possibly meeting Iowa and NCAA all-time leading scorer Caitlin Clark in a rematch of last season’s national title game.

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