clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

WBB: The Post Office is open on Saturday

The Women's Bouncy Ballers ran away from the Houston Cougars in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader, as the Ags got outstanding play in the paint.

Rachel Mitchell had one of her best games as an Ag; but Khaalia Mitchell and Jada Terry kept up in the competition at the post
Rachel Mitchell had one of her best games as an Ag; but Khaalia Mitchell and Jada Terry kept up in the competition at the post
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

When we last looked in on the Aggie women, the team was an undefeated 10-0, good for #4 in the AP poll and #5 in the USA Today poll. But the Ags didn't look like a top 5 team, despite relatively uneventful wins against Northwestern State, TCU, and SMU. Returning to Reed Arena against a young and overmatched Houston squad gave the Ags a chance to work on execution and to avoid lapses into what the coaches and team both called "Rec-ball" in describing last week's wins.

First half

Coach Blair went with a starting lineup of Khaalia Hillsman, Courtney Williams, Chelsea Jennings, Courtney Walker and Jordan Jones.  Houston came out with a playing a tandem 2-3 zone: it looks like a 1-1-3 where one of the two guards on top sags into the lane to take away the high post and the drives that the Ags like to do in the zone gaps. Overall, this didn't stop the Ags from scoring, but in the first half it seemed to keep the team from setting up the posts inside.  The Cougars also pressed in the backcourt for much of the game, but the Ags did a pretty good job of breaking the pressure.

The Ags went on top early, but turnovers and 3 pointers by UH allowed them to briefly take a 13-12 lead before the Ags ramped up the pressure and went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good.   Walker had an off scoring night on Tuesday vs SMU, and she came out firing on Saturday. CWalk matched her 9 point output from the SMU game in the first 12 minutes of the game and finished the half with 17 points. Unfortunately she was also responsible for 4 turnovers in the half. Defense led to multiple turnovers and fast break points.

Halftime score: Ags 48, UH 30

Second half

The coaches made some adjustments to get the team to be more patient in attacking the tandem 2-3. Coach Blair had said that SMU was the first game where all 3 of his posts had not played well. Clearly they worked on post play during the week, although it didn't show so much in the first half. Rachel Mitchell started the second half and after an initial sequence where she missed some bunnies and then committed a foul, Rachel caught fire. She was grabbing boards, intimidating and blocking shots, and making layups on entries from Jones and Walker. She ended up with 8 points, 7 boards, and 2 blocks. Khaalia replaced Rachel and continued the dominance in the post. After only scoring 2 points on free throws in the first half, Khaalia scored 8 after the break and added a block. Not to be outdone, Jada Terry came in and continued the post parade by scoring 11, all in the second half.

Give us Chu!

With the Ags up by as many as 43 points in the second half, Coach had played 12 different Ags, all of whom had scored at least one basket. With a few minutes left, the crowd started chanting "We want Chu! We want Chu!" for walk-on Allison Chu. With a minute to go, Coach waved her into the game. In my preseason look at the Ags, I pointed out that Chu led the team last season in rebounds per minute. Allison has fallen off her rebounding pace, but in her one minute of play, she did grab a defensive board to give her 5 rebounds in 14 minutes of court time for her career.

Final score 94-55 Ags

Allison got the first post-game player interview on the radio, before Khaalia and Coach Bond.

Overall

  • The Ags were led by Walker's 19 points. Coach left her in to get 20, but CWalk, who is usually automatic from the line missed a pair of free throws. Coach felt she played better in the second half, despite only scoring one FG. Her D and ball handling were better, and she had several assists. CWalk was a perfect 6-6 from the field.
  • Jada Terry's 11 combined with 10 from Khaalia and 8 from Rachel to give the 3-headed post an overall line of 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks
  • Achiri was one rebound short of a double-double.
  • Courtney Williams had a bit of a rough game. She was held to 9 points and fouled out
  • Tori Scott scored 10 off the bench
  • JJ and Curtyce were great at the point. Jones had 7 assists and only one turnover (an ambitious outlet pass in the first half that was just a bit too long), while Knox had 4 assists and no turnovers.
  • A&M shot over 57% in both halves, finishing at 57.8% from the field. The Ags held the Cougars to 32.1% shooting in both halves. The team only committed 9 turnovers, while forcing 15.
  • The Ags outrebounded the Cougars 47-26. A&M dominated points in the paint, 54-12
It was the kind of dominant win you'd expect from a top team playing  a weaker opponent. Given the opponent it's hard to say the Ags finally looked like a #4 team, but they didn't play down to the opposition. Coach Blair gave himself a B for the game and gave the team a B+.

Up next: Texas in Little Rock

  • #3 Texas
  • 12:30 PM Sun Dec 21
  • Little Rock, AR
  • SEC Network
The game against tu is the front end of a doubleheader in Little Rock as part of an SEC/B12 WBB challenge. Arkansas plays OU after our game. The Horns play on Sunday afternoon (upcoming as I write this) but are unbeaten at 7-0 with notable wins against Stanford (in OT, in Palo Alto, a few days after the Cardinal upset UConn) and Tennessee. Not including Sunday game Texas has been winning its games by an average of 23.2 points/game, scoring 77.1 and giving up 53.9. The win over the Lady Vols was by 13.  With games against NW State and McNeese State between now and the showdown in Little Rock, Texas should be 9-0 when they face an 11-0 TAMU team.

I haven't had a chance to watch the Lady Sips this year. I do know that third-year coach Karen Alston has been doing a great job and has been killing it on the recruiting trail. The depth she's built in Austin has allowed the Horns to build their unbeaten record despite a key injury to preseason All-America candidate Imani Stafford-McGee, a 6-7 Jr Post. 6-5 Soph Kelsey Lang has been having an outstanding year taking over the starting spot in the post. 6-1 Sr F Nneka Enempkali is another All-America candidate. Lang and Enempkali account for a large part of the rebounding edge, but several of the guards are also good on the boards. Coach Blair considers Land and Enempkali to be the reason Texas is currently stronger than the Ags up front. Lang, Enempkali and 5-11 freshman G Ariel Atkins are all averaging double figures in scoring as well.  Atkins injured an ankle in practice this week; we'll see if she's back for A&M. The Vols SBN writers don't think of Texas as particularly big, and while they don't have the size of S. Carolina, Tennessee, or Duke their front line is going to present a different challenge to the Ags than the smaller teams we've been mostly playing.
Right now we've been playing small ball but we've got to play Big Sister ball.

- Chelsea Jennings
It seems like not that long ago that Coach Blair dominated Texas. The Ags had an 11 game win streak against Texas from 2007-2011, and were 13-1 from 2006-11. But the Ags last B12 team got swept by tu, and then lost badly in the only OOC rematch last year in the Virgin Islands. This means that none of the current Ags have ever beaten tu, and none of the current Horns have ever lost to the Ags.
I think it's going to be a war. Texas is playing as good as S. Carolina, as Connecticut right now. They've got depth, they've got post depth and they've got that swag about them right now
...
So we're going to have our hands full, but it will be a great final exam for us Dec 21 to see where we are. We passed it against Duke, we passed it against DePaul, now can we pass Microbiology or whatever it's gonna take against Texas.

- Gary Blair