The Ags hoped to add to the list of upsets in Women's Bouncyball that happened over the weekend. Before the team took the floor in Columbia, S. Carolina, the weekend had already seen #5 Ohio State, #7 Miss State, #13 Tennessee, #17 UCLA, #20 Florida, #22 Duke, and #25 USCw all lose to either unranked or lower ranked teams. The number of these that involved SEC teams meant that by Sunday morning the #2 Gamecocks were alone and unbeaten in the early SEC standings, with Gary Blair's #15 Ags and former student Vic Shaeffer's #7 Mississippi State Bulldogs tied for second at 3-1. 7 teams were tied at 2-2.
The ESPN2 broadcast joined the game in progress. Jordan Jones returned to the starting lineup with Chelsea Jennings, Khaalia Hillsman, Anriel Howard, and Courtney Walker. The Ags jumped out to an early lead, using turnovers to generate a 9-0 run in the middle of the quarter and a 13-6 lead. S. Carolina answered with a run of their own to make it 13-12 at the first media timeout with 4:03 left in the quarter. At that point, the Ags were shooting at 60% from the field; Carolina was not far behind at 55.6%.
Rachel Mitchell came in after the timeout. Rachel set a pick that sent Khadija Sessions to the bench. Rachel then blocked a shot, but Cuevas gave SC the lead by stealing the ball from JJ and scoring on the solo fast break. Anriel committed her second foul on the next A&M possession and was replaced by Jasmine Lumpkin.
Turnovers and misses allowed S. Carolina to extend their run to 10-0 before Jones hit a jumper from the top of the key to keep the game within 1. Lumpkin hit an off balance shot in the lane and was fouled. She missed the FT, but the Ags wound up with a 1 point lead to end the quarter.
17-16 Ags after 1.
CWill got her first action in several games to start the second quarter. Blair also put Curtyce in to give Jones some rest. With Knox and CWill in, the Ags went to a zone. After the hot start in the first, neither team could hit anything to start the quarter. Jones and Sessions returned with just over 7 minutes left. S. Carolina got the first basket of the quarter at 6:44 on a drive by Tiffany Mitchell.
Jennings got the Ags in the scoring column for the quarter with a J from the left baseline. It was 20-19 at the 4:50 media timeout. The teams traded the lead and it looked like the Gamehens would take the lead into the break when Aj'a Wilson rejected CWill down low and came down the court with 14 seconds left. But Walker stole the ball from Sessions and scored on a 2-0 fast break to give A&M a 1 point lead at halftime.
27-26 Ags at halftime.
After the hot start, the Ags only shot 38.2% for the half. S. Carolina dropped to 41.4%. The Ags had a slight edge in rebounding 20-19, with 8 offensive boards to 5. Neither coach was likely to be happy with the turnover numbers as A&M committed 8 and S. Carolina 10 in the first half.
Aja Wilson led all scorers with 13. Jennings led the Ags with 10. Tiffany Mitchell had 9 for USCe and CWalk had 8 for A&M. I thought the Ags got some good performances off the bench that didn't show in the scoreboard. The Ags held their own with Curtyce Knox and Rachel Mitchell providing relief for Jones and Hillsman. Rachel 3 blocks, 5 boards, and a steal.
S. Carolina scored the first 4 points of the second half too easily, taking the ball inside, while the Ags looked disorganized on offense, leading Coach Blair to call an early timeout. Walker converted after the timeout. The Ags went zone but still couldn't keep Wilson from her third easy layup of the quarter. Howard tried to front Wilson, but Dozier was able to make the entry over the top.
It was 34-30 when Blair put Rachel back in to try to stop the inside game. Jones hit a 3 to cut the lead to 1 by the 4:26 media timeout.
An offensive board by Rachel allowed Jones to drive the lane and get a hoop and a foul. The 3 point play gave the Ags the lead again. But Jones picked up her 3rd foul with 1:31 to go. She was lucky that Jennings was called for a blocking foul later in the same possession where JJ could have been called for reaching in on the other side. A steal by Rachel led to a Jennings fast break.
38-36 Ags after 3 quarters.
A pair of FTs by Wilson tied the game to start the final quarter. Walker answered with a J from the top of the key to regain the lead. But Walker committed a foolish foul on Tiffany Mitchell shooting a 3 pointer. T MItchell was only able to hit 2 of 3 to tie it at 40. Cuevas hit a 3 to make it 43-40. Anriel got a nice feed to cut the lead to 1, but Wilson blocked the next attempt to retake the lead. Jennings had to foul Cuevas. Jones hit a J and a 3 to retake the lead and cause Dawn Staley to call a timeout with 5:53 to go in the game.
After the timeout, Carolina turned it over. But the Ags turned it over on their end, leading to another fast break for Cuevas. The Ags had some opportunities, but couldn't convert versus the Carolina size, and Jennings ended up getting called for her 4th foul. Carolina was in the bonus but Coates only hit 1 of 2. Sessions stretched it to 52-47 forcing Blair to call timeout with 4:11 left.
Williams came in for Howard and scored, S. Carolina kept it at a 5 point lead as the Ags couldn't stop Wilson from going to the hole. Jones committed her 4th foul. CWill was limping the whole time she was in, so Anriel came back in. It was 55-51 with 2 minutes remaining. Walker came off a Howard screen and cut it to 55-53. Wilson hit a tough shot while getting fouled by Hillsman to make it 57-53.
The Ags forced a shot clock violation at 28.2 down 57-53. Blair put Cooper in for offense. Sessions fouled Waker to put the Ags in the bonus with 20 seconds left. Walker made it 57-55. Howard fouled Tiffany Mitchell, who uncharacteristically missed both FTs. Blair called his final timeout with 13.3 remaining. Blair inserted both Cooper and Danni in the lineup for the inbuonds. S. Carolina was surprised (or just wanted to see what Blair did) and Staley called timeout. The Ags sent everyone out to the 3 point arc, clearing space in the middle. Jones drove the left side of the lane and was fouled by Wilson.
Jones missed the front end and fouled out with 3.4 seconds left. Sessions went to the line to shoot 2. She missed the first and made the second to give Carolina a 58-56 lead. Cooper took the ball out on the endline; with no timeouts remaining, the Ags could not advance the ball. Needing desperation offense, Blair had Cooper, Walker, Jennings, Howard, and Shlonte Allen in the game. Coopers first attempt to inbound the ball was blocked by S. Carolina. On the second attempt she hit a streaking Jennings on a post pattern for a game-tying layup with 0.9 seconds to go.
But as the Ags started to celebrate sending the game into OT, Allen lost track of the score and intentionally fouled Sessions in the backcourt. I haven't found a link to any post-game comments, but it seems like Allen must have been confused about the score. It also looked like the Ags could have been called for a technical for leaving the bench (both benches had been warned earlier) or for trying the Chris Webber "calling a timeout with none remaining" violation. Sessions again made one of two, but this time the inbounds from Rachel was intercepted to end the game.
Final score 59-58. S. Carolina escapes and stays unbeaten.
Despite the ending, it was a heck of a game and fans of Aggie WBB should be proud of the performance of the team. On the road, against undefeated #2, without a healthy CWill, the Ags gave S. Carolina fans a lot of heartburn today. It would have been great to take the game into OT, but it would still have been a difficult task to come away with the upset given that Jones had already fouled out and both Jennings and Howard finished the game with 4 fouls.
- Jordan Jones led the Ags with 17 points. JJ had 3 assists and 5 turnovers, stole the ball twice and had 5 turnovers before fouling out at the end. Walker had 16 points and played all 40 minutes. Jennings was also in double figures again with 14 points.
- Courtney Williams looked like she wasn't ready to come back. She ended up playing 6 minutes and looked like she was really in pain going up and down the court. I hope this didn't set back her physical recovery.
- Rachel deservedly got a lot of praise from the ESPN announcers for making an impact outside of scoring. Her 5 blocks moved her ahead of Danielle Adams in the all-time blocked shots list for the Ags. Her defense was important in forcing S. Carolina away from the 2-man post game they were starting to get going in the second half.
- A'ja Wilson led the Gamecocks with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 blocks. She was 11-19 from the floor, doing most of the damage on layups. Tiffany Mitchell had 11 points but overall the Ags did a pretty good job on Mitchell, the 2-time SEC POY. After shooting 50% in the first half, she was held to 2 points, both on FTs, in the second half. She was 0-5 from the floor.
- With Miss State having a bye, the loss dropped the Ags to 3-2 in conference and 13-5 overall. That puts A&M into a four way tie for 3rd in the SEC, along with Kentucky, Florida, and Arkansas. Arkansas got its 3rd win over a ranked team in SEC play on Sunday, knocking off Mizzou after previously upsetting the Ags and the Lady Vols.
- Missouri Tigers
- 7PM CST Thursday Jan 21, 2016
- Reed Arena
- Streaming: SECN+ Radio: KZNE 1150 AM/ 102.7 FM
Mizzou became the latest ranked victim of Jimmy Dykes' home court by falling to Arkansas on Sunday 64-52. That dropped the Mutigers below .500 in SEC play. As with all the early results, that isn't a bad record. They've beaten Georgia and upset Miss State, while losing to Tennessee and S. Carolina. Coach Robin Pingeton's Mutigers were undefeated before starting SEC play. They're still deadly from distance, but have added more strength in the paint as Pingeton has been building the program. Expected starters:
- #3 6-1 Fr G Sophie Cunningham (14.2 ppg) is the younger sister of starter Lindsay Cunningham. She was a McDonald's All-American coming out of High School and has started with a bang at Mizzou. She leads the team in scoring and minutes. She's second in a bunch of other categories.
- #22 6-1 Jr F Jordan Frericks (11.7 ppg/7.8 rpg) was last season's breakout star for Mizzou. She's the main paint presence for Missouri, leading the team in rebounding and blocked shots. She's the least likely of the starters to shoot from 3 point range.
- #24 5-10 Jr G Sierra Michaelis (10.5 ppg) has the most 3 point attempts.
- #11 6-0 RS-Jr G Lindsay Cunningham (4.8 ppg) is the only starter not averaging double figures in scoring, but the older Cunningham sister leads the team in assists.
- #21 6-4 Fr F Cierra Porter (10.3 ppg) is another newcomer who appears to share the paint responsibilities with Frericks.
In addition to the Cunningham sisters, the Stock family sends a pair of sisters off the bench. 6-1 Morgan and 6-0 Maddie are a pair of seniors who like to shoot from outside.
Thursday's game should be an interesting test for both teams in terms of being contenders in the SEC.