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WBB:Ags survive Red Wolf attack

The Women's Bouncy Ball team led wire to wire against the Arkansas State Red Wolves and won 80-62. The game was much tougher than the final score would suggest, as a scrappy Arkansas State team climbed back from a 19 point first half deficit to get within 6 with 5 minutes to go before the Ags were able to pull away.

Achiri Ade and Courtney Williams helped the Ags hold on to a win vs Arkansas State
Achiri Ade and Courtney Williams helped the Ags hold on to a win vs Arkansas State
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Blair returned to the starting lineup of Gilbert, Ade, Williams, Walker, and Jones.  The game started out sloppy, with A&M turning the ball over on the first possession of the game after winning the tip, and neither team scored until Courtney Walker put in a jumper just over 2 minutes into the contest.  The Ags warmed up first, going on a run to take an 11-2 lead into the first timeout.  Courtney Williams and Achiri Ade led the initial surge. Courtney Williams stayed hot after her career high vs La Tech, and had 14 by the intermission. Williams knifed through the D several times for acrobatic layups. She would finish with 27, her second career high in as many games. Ade continued to add intermediate jump shots to her energetic play around the glass. A&M kept the momentum going as Coach Blair substituted liberally. Curtyce Knox had a nice driving layup on one play, and used a similar penetration to set up an assist to Jada Terry to give the Ags their largest lead: 19 at 6:10 to go in the first half.

Both teams pressed, ran, and played man defense for most of the game. The pace was fast and furious as the Red Wolves, led by Aundrea Gamble, cut it to 14 at halftime, and then gradually eroded the lead in the second half. The lead was cut to single digits 3 times in the first 8 minutes of the second half. Williams and Jones stretched it back to 14 with 8:42 to go. A 3 pt play by Jalen O'Bannon cut the lead to 8 with 5:39 left. O'Bannon then converted Curtyce Knox's only turnover of the night into a layup to get within 6.

Ade then started the run that would seal the game by demonic rebounding. First she grabbed an offensive board on a Williams miss.  She missed a putback layup, grabbed her own rebound, and was fouled. Then, after missing both FTs, she got the rebound on the second miss and was fouled again.  She hit both charity shots this time.  It was only two points, but it was a momentum shift.  Knox found Tori Scott for a 3-pointer after a turnover. Tori then got the assist on a jumper by Williams after another turnover.  Scott missed a layup with 2:23 to go, but Walker picked off the outlet pass at the top of the key, drove, and hit Williams for a layup to make the lead 13. Overall, A&M outscored Arkansas State 16-4 to end the game.

The team as a whole played well, perhaps giving their best game of the season against a team that looked better than 6-6. Williams was brilliant. In the last few games she has shown why the coaches have put so much effort into getting her going; she's playing with verve and bravado. Ade finished with a double double: 13 pts 10 rebounds. For the game A& shot 52.2% from the field while holding Arkansas State to 37.7% shooting.  A stat that Coach Blair will be happy about: The Ags had 23 assists on 35 field goals. More breakdown:

  • Points in the paint-ASU 28,TAMU 44.
  • Points off turnovers-ASU 6,TAMU 21.
  • 2nd chance points-ASU 14,TAMU 18.
  • Fast break points-ASU 12,TAMU 14.
  • Bench points-ASU 14,TAMU 19.

The Ags outrebounded the Wolves 40-36, which means the visitors won the boards in the second half.  At the very end, Allison Chu grabbed two rebounds in just 34 seconds of play. One factor in Arkansas State's second half rebounding was that Coach Blair uses nonconference games as clinical trials for different lineups and schemes. In the second half we saw lots of small lineups with Karla on the bench. After playing pretty well against La Tech, Rachel Mitchell did not play.  Arkansas State was led by Gamble's 17 points.  Although Gamble had 17 on 50% shooting, it felt like a good defensive effort on the Red Wolves star, who was guarded by Jones, Walker, and Knox at different points in the game. Hanna Qedan and O'Bannan each scored 10.

The Ags end the 2013 part of the season at 9-4 (7-0 at home). 2014 brings one more out of conference game, which could be a challenge as 11-1 UTEP comes to Reed.  The Miners' gaudy W-L hasn't impressed the voters or computers yet, so A&M could tell us if UTEP is real or if the Miners are fool's gold.  The game is at 6PM CST on Thursday Jan 2.