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WBB: Comeback Ags

Women's Bouncy Ball fell behind at halftime for the fifth game in a row but came back again to beat Ole Miss.

Courtney Williams took over in the second half vs Ole Miss
Courtney Williams took over in the second half vs Ole Miss
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Rebels came into Reed on a high after knocking off #18 Georgia in a thriller in Oxford. Meanwhile the Ags used the first of their two conference byes to rest, recover, and go to the movies together. Khaalia Hillsman got out of the hospital and started light practice on Thursday. Meanwhile, Coach Bond went down with the flu and was still fighting a fever that's kept her out since the LSU game. The coaches said the Ags had several good days of practice in the week before the game.

First Half

The Ags came out with a starting lineup of Jada Terry, Achiri Ade, Courtney Williams, Courtney Walker and Jordan Jones. For the Lady RebelBearAckbars, Shendricka Sessom was back in the starting lineup. Both teams came out in man-to-man defense and wanted to play at a fast pace. After hitting the first bucket of the  game on a nice lob from Jones to Williams, the Ags went into a first half shooting slump, missing a lot of open looks. This allowed Ole Miss to get a bit of a lead. Fols on the Rebs allowed the Ags to get into the 1 and 1 with more than 11 minutes left in the half. A second foul sent Tia Faleru to the bench with 9 minutes to go in the half with Ole Miss up 17-13.

The Ags tried Jada, Khaalia Hillsman, and Rachel Mitchell in the post in the first half. Although Rachel blocked 2 shots, intimidated some others, and tipped some rebounds to teammates, Coach decided to go small with about 6 minutes to go. It worked well enough to allow the Ags to retake the lead off a turnover 20-19 with 4:55 in the half. But Ole Miss took back the lead and stretched it to 6 through a combination of zone D and Shequila Joseph getting into the paint for rebounds leading to a putback and free throws. Joseph also hit a 3 and Erica Sisk had a layup during a 10-3 run.

Jada came back in at the end of the run to commit a foul that led to the final two free throws of the half for Ole Miss.With just under 20 seconds left CWill went one on and hit a pull up J from the left of the key. Ole Miss went down the lane to go for the last shot, but CWalk got a block/steal and ran it up the left side. She passed to JJ at the arc. Jones looked like she was going to shoot but then threaded a pass to Tori for a buzzer-beating layup to make it just a 2 point deficit.

The Ags shot only 30.8% from the fields but took advantage of the early bonus to have an 11-6 edge from the FT line. A&M committed 10 turnovers in the half, at least 3 of which came on overly ambitious passes from JJ and CWalk.  Ole Miss shot 28% but took 13 more shots, thanks to those turnovers and 10 offensive rebounds. A&M led overall rebounding 26-23 but only had 6 on the offensive glass.

Second Half

The Ags came out with the starters but began the half in a 2-3 zone. Both teams turned it over on their opening possessions of the second half. Ole Miss scored first, Then Coutrney Williams began to take over the game. At first she attacked the basket to draw fouls on two possessions. Then after an offensive board, she made a nice move, faking into the middle of the lane and then stepping through to lay it up on the left side. Walker hit a jumper to tie the game at 35. Then at 16:04, JJ was called for a foul on a pick where Faleru obviously pushed off while setting a pick. But Walker deflected the ball to Jones, who hit Jada on the break to give the Ags the lead for the first time in the second half. Ole Miss retook the lead and it was 41-38 Rebels when Erika Sisk fooled JJ on a backdoor cut for a wide open layup.

Blair went small again, putting Tavarsha Scott-Williams in for Jada Terry with 12:28 to go. But then the Ags went on an 11-0 run starting with CWalk scoring on a turnover and drawing Faleru's third foul and ending with Walker hitting one of two FTs after Coach Matt Insell got hit with a technical foul. During the run Tavarsha had 3 rebounds and a steal. She had a total of 4 boards in 13 minutes of play.

Both teams continued to play hard and Blair continued to mostly use small ball lineups.  Toward the end of the game he had a lineup with Achiri, Tavarsha, Taylor Cooper, Williams and Jones. After the 3:30 timeout Tori subbed for Taylor. Then Walker came in for Tavarsha. Ole Miss called a timeout with 2:10 left. The Ags came out with Curtyce Knox, Williams, Walker, Scott and Ade. JJ came back in for Curtyce with 1:36 left. After Ole Miss fouled Jones with 47.2 remaining down 8, Blair gave Achiri a curtain call by subbing in Chelsea Jennings.

FInal score 58-49 Ags.

Overall/Misc

  • CWill led all scorers with 21 points, 14 in the second half. She also had 8 boards. Achiri had another game where she was 1 pt short of a double double: 9 points and 13 boards. CWalk was in double figures again, but continues to struggle from the field. She was only 4-14 from the field. But, as usual, she did a lot of other things that contributed to the win. The offense was not terribly efficient overall. 30.8% shooting in the first half was followed by 31.3% in the second half.
  • Jordan Jones had 6 assists and 6 turnovers, but was 5A 1TO in the second half. She added 8 boards and 9 points.
  • Ole Miss was led by Erica Sisk, who had 15 points (10 in the first half). Faleru and Joseph were also in double digits scoring, with Faleru adding 12 boards for her umpteenth double-double. It looked to me like 9 FG attempts from Faleru for the game was a sign of both good Aggie D and inexperience from the Ole Miss teammates. The Lady RebelBearAkbars improved their shooting from 28.2% in the first half to 37.5% in the second, but could not overcome a massive 22-7 advantage for the Ags at the FT line. A&M shot 30 FTs to just 13 for Ole Miss, reflecting how the Rebs settled for too many jump shots and the Ags attacked the paint more in the second half. Gracie Frizzell, was held scoreless.
  • The Ags had a 10-4 turnover disadvantage at halftime, but had only 1 turnover in the second half, which happened with more than 19 minutes remaining. Meanwhile, Ole Miss had 12 second half turnovers, which were a big factor in the second half.
  • Although the small lineup did fine, I still wonder what's going on with the posts. All three of the three-headed center combo played in the first half, but only for a total of 16 minutes. The small-ball approach was even more striking in the second half, where only Jada got any PT, and she was only in for 7/20 minutes.
  • At halftime the families of the players were honored on the court. As each group was introduced, they got a rose. The rose for Tori Scott's family was received by Floyd Raven.
  • Last week, the Ags picked up a transfer from Michigan State. Jasmine Lumpkin, a 6-0 guard started 14 games as a freshman for Sparty. But after choosing Michigan State while living in Illinois, her family moved to Texas and now live close to A&M. She's starting school for the Spring semester, but since she played at least one conference game, I assume she will sit all of next year instead of being able to play in mid-season.

Up Next

  • Georgia
  • Thursday January 22, 2015 6PM CST
  • Stegman Coliseum, Athens, GA
  • SECN+ (streaming) and KZNE 1150 AM

While the Ags were getting ready for Ole Miss, the Lady Bulldogs were hosting Vandy. The Dawgs bounced back from their Thursday night upset loss at Ole Miss to pull away from the Commodores in the second half. Starters vs Vandy were:

  • #13 6-2 Jr F Merritt Hempe averages 7.9 ppg. In last year's OT game, she had 19 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out.
  • #15 5-11 Sr F Krista Donald averages 8.4 ppg and leads the team in rebounding average at 7.4.
  • #31 5-9 Sr G Erika Ford averages 5.2 ppg. As noted below, she's likely to go back to the bench in favor of Shacobia Barbee, who has started most of the season.
  • #24 5-8 Jr G Marjorie Butler leads the team in assists.
  • #3 5-7 Jr G Tiara Griffin scores 11.4 ppg.

5-10 Jr G/F Shacobia Barbee (second team all SEC and SEC All-Defensive team last season) usually starts and leads the team in min/g (27.8) and points/g (12.4). The change vs Vanderbilt probably reflected Erika Ford's 20 point performance off the bench vs Ole Miss. I would not be surprised to see Barbee take back the starting spot, but in either case we'll see a lot of both of them.

Overall, Coach Blair is 5-13 against the Lady Bulldogs, but the losses came before he moved to A&M. With the Ags, Coach Blair is 4-0 vs Georgia. Since the Ags and Dawgs didn't play at all before the 2011 season, the Ags are unbeaten in the all-time series. The first 3 weren't close. The most recent game went to OT in Reed, and involved Georgia blowing a 16 point lead. No wonder Coach Andy Landers always looks out of sorts when we play them.

I would love for the Ags to return to their pattern of blowing out Georgia in Athens, but both teams have talent and can be inconsistent (based on watching a bit of Georgia vs Ole Miss and vs Vandy). We've got to HoF coaches who are old-school about how they call plays and who like to play small ball. And the Ags have to guard against looking ahead to the game at S. Carolina the following Monday.

BTHO Georgia!