After slipping away from a group of turkey-sedated fellow diners, I was able to catch part of today's Paradise Jam streams. The streaming YouTube Live video from the Virgin Islands games was not bad, and audio was provided by radio announcers for one of the teams. The AggieAthletics Steve Miller and Bret Dark did the first game, while Syracuse's announcers did the second.
Game 1: Ags over Tigers 69-59
I predicted that the Ags would have a big advantage inside and I was partly right. Karla Gilbert got the first double-double of her career with 18 pts and 14 rebounds and no turnovers. Karla was a perfect 7/7 from the field and 4/4 from the free throw line. The Ags outrebounded the Tigers 40-29. But Achiri Ade had a rough night, going 0-6 from the field after coming in as the teams leading scorer. A&M got into foul trouble in the first half and had to go to a zone to open the second half. Defensive rotation problems left Memphis guard Mooriah Rowser open too much, and Rowser responded by leading all scorers with 21 points. Ariel Hearn, who I thought would be a focus of the Aggie D, beat her season average by adding 19, including 5 of 8 from behind the arc.
Fortunately for the Ags, Tori Scott came off the bench and blew away her career best scoring performance. Tori went 9 for 10 from the field, with the only miss being a three pointer (Scott also made a trey). After letting Memphis close to within 1 at 17:52 the second half, A&M went on a 10-2 run to build the lead to 9. That run was built mostly on rebounding and running the break. The lead would fluctuate after that, but that was the ball game.
The 11 day layoff showed up in the Ags not playing as cleanly as we expect from a Blair coached team. A&M had 19 turnovers, including 6 by Jordan Jones against only 4 assists. 19 turnovers on a night where there were zero from the post position is not good! Both the good and the bad can be seen in the highlight video:
The Ags will have to play better in the next two games. Other notes:
- Courtney Williams was back in the starting lineup
- Courtney Walker had another quiet but good game with 10 points on 5/9 shooting. CWalk also had 2 steals and a block.
- Rachel Mitchell is back with the team and looked lost in 4 minutes of play, or at least the part I saw.
- Jada Terry didn't see the floor. Overall 11 Ags played.
Game 2: Sips get Orange Crushed
I watched the first half of the tu-Syracuse game to get a sense of what we will be up against beyond the stat-gazing used in the preview. Texas let twice in this game: first when Chassidy Fussell opened the scoring with a 3 pointer that was her only scoring of the game, and second at 15-13 from 10:08 to 8:30 in the first half. Syracuse went on a 16-3 run from there. Texas showed a tiny bit of life and finished the half only down 29-24. Syracuse dominated the second half got the lead up to 21 with 3:52 to go before tu made the final a slightly less embarrassing 65-77. This is much closer than Syracuse's other opponents have done lately, but I expected the Horns to be a lot better than that.
Syracuse's 2-3 zone was combined with a half-court trap to hold tu to 36.8% shooting with 23 turnovers. Although Texas had the edge on the boards, the unburnt Orange did an outstanding job of frustrating the Horns bigs. Imani Stafford and Enempkpali had double figures, but were 3-11 and 5-14, respectively.
With 3 games in 3 days, it makes sense that all the teams are using their benches a lot. 6-5 Freshman post Kelsey Lang and 6-2 Sr forward had season highs in minutes played. Backup guard Brady Sanders led the sips in scoring with 13. All 4 of her FG were 3 pointers.
Despite the different results today, tu still presents potential problems for the Ags, especially up front. We just haven't faced anyone that rebounds as well yet this year. With Texas' size it will probably be hard for Karla to approach her game 1 performance. It would be nice to see Achiri regain her scoring touch, but I'll be happy if she just neutralizes Enempkali. This means more pressure to perform on the guards. I'd love for the Memphis game to be the start of a breakout season for Tori Scott, but we will need a good game from CWill. I expect JJ to have a better day for assists and turnovers, and CWalk to continue to be a Naismith watch player.
Texas showed the same propensity to go on scoring droughts as was seen vs Stanford. The Horns are also averaging 19 turnovers/game. This isn't just because of playing Stanford and Cuse; they turned it over 20 times against Texas State and 19 times vs UTSA.
I thought the announcers said this is the first time the two schools have played at anything since we moved to the SEC. So no pressure, ladies.
Game at 5CST. Live stream here.