At the end of the 2014-15 season,6-5 freshman Khaalia Hillsman had established herself as the post of the future at Texas A&M in the eyes of the coaches, beating out 6-7 Jr Rachel Mitchell and 6-3 sophomore Jada Terry. Mitchell would stick around for her senior year but Terry, seeing her opportunity for playing time diminish despite some good performances, chose to transfer. She landed at Texas Tech and sat out last season. While she watched from the bench, the Lady Raiders finished 13-15 (3-15 in the Big 12). Joining Jada in transfer purgatory were UCLA transfer Recee’ Caldwell and Indiana transfer Larryn Brooks.
Fast forward to Thursday night. Terry, sporting a new blond ombre ponytail, and Caldwell started for Tech, along with 5-8 RS Sr. Ivonne Cook-Taylor, 5-6 So Japreece Dean, and 5-11 Fr Arella Guirantes. 3/5 starters didn’t play last season. The Ags countered with Khaalia Hillsman, Anriel Howard, Jasmine Lumpkin, Danni Williams, and Curtyce Knox.
Both teams really put on a show. Tech jumped out to a 7 point lead in middle of the first quarter, but the Ags reeled them back in and led 21-18 at the first break.
The Ags were up 8 in the middle of the second quarter, but Tech clawed back to take the lead at 31-30 with 3:01 left in the first half. A layup by Danni 14 seconds later regained the lead and the Ags went into halftime up 36-33. Caldwell had 12 points by halftime on 5/8 shooting (2/4 from 3), while Terry added 8 points and 6 rebounds. Danni led the Ags with 10 first half points, matching Caldwell from behind the arc. Tech played more of their bench, but only got 3 points from their reserves. Taylor Cooper scored 5 and Walnatia Wright scored 4 for A&M as subs. When Wright was in, she was active on both ends of the floor, but just wasn’t strong enough to keep from getting overpowered. Fortunately for the Ags, Tech didn’t press that advantage as much as they might have.
The Ags halftime lead reflected an edge on the glass. A&M outrebounded Tech 23-15. This meant that despite shooting only 38.9% to their 43.3%, A&M had a lead from taking 6 more shots.
The Ags lost the lead early in the 3rd quarter as Caldwell went on a 5-0 run before going to the bench for a brief rest at 6:25 with Tech up 45-41. Calwell was unconscious, putting on a memorable shooting display. She has a very quick release with a slight fadeaway, making it hard to for the guards to challenge her shot. Terry stretched the lead to 47-41 but the Ags fought back. Danni was hitting from distance and others were getting points in the paint. The photo is of Jaz Lumpkin making a nice bucket in the third quarter. The Ags went up 58-55 with 24 seconds left in the third before Caldwell hit yet another 3 pointer to tie it going into the 4th. That gave Caldwell 11 points for the quarter and 23 for the game.
The two teams traded the lead through the 4th quarter, with it being a 2 score game only once after Caldwell hit yet another 3 at 8:03 to make it 66-62. Taylor Cooper, known as a 3 point threat, made her mark in the paint in the middle of the 4th quarter, getting several layups in traffic. It was 69-68 Tech with 5:19 to go after another Caldwell bomb. After Anriel missed a layup, it looked like Tech might stretch the lead as Calwell got the ball in the left corner. But a double-team led to Curtyce stealing the ball, with Caldwell hitting the floor after the turnover. While she was down, Cooper got a putback of a Hillsman miss and there was a tech on Tech for something they said about an uncalled foul on the turnover. Danni got both FTs and instead of a 3-4 point TTU lead it was the Ags by 3. But Tech wasn’t done. They clawed back and went up 81-80 with 6 seconds left as Terry scored in the paint. Coach Blair called timeout to move the inbounds pass to the frontcourt. The ball went to Danni at the top of the arc and she let a 3 pointer fly... and banked it in.
The crowd went nuts, but there were still 2.7 seconds left. Tech used their last timeout to move the ball to the front court. The ball went to Caldwell and the Ags collapsed on her, leaving the freshman Guirantes open on the baseline. She got off the buzzer beater to send the game into OT.
I was somewhat concerned as the OT started. The Ags finished regulation with Anriel and Curtyce with 4 fouls, and Khaalia with 3. Tech had shot the lights out in the second half, going 21/29 (72.4%) including 6/8 from behind the arc. As in the first half, rebounding and turnovers helped the Ags take 6 more attempts, but A&M “only” shot 48.6%. Tech’s shooting % was a combination of Caldwell being unconscious, Terry beating the Ags in the paint, and some breakdowns on drives in the lane allowing layups. But there were definite positives from the second half. Curtyce and Khaalia were connecting on entry passes leading to layups, and the staff gave Jaz the assignment of defending Caldwell in the final 5 minutes and Lumpkin’s extra length seemed to limit the long game.
What happened was the Ags jumped out first in OT with Danni scoring on a jumper and a fast break. The teams traded buckets, but Curtyce had a key steal with 2:37 left, tipping a ball in the passing lane up and grabbing it. Anriel’s layup attempt was blocked, but she got her own rebound and Danni made it a 6 point lead with a second chance J with 2:13 to go. Anriel made it an 8 point lead at 1:27 and the rest of the way was about intentional fouls and free throws. The Ags made 5/6 in the final minute to make the final score 98-90.
This was an incredibly fun game to watch. The headliner for the Ags was obviously Danni who had a career high 32 points on 8/19 shooting (4/8 from 3) She also was 12/13 from the FT line. Of course, you’d expect career highs for a player who was behind Courtney Walker and Chelsea Jenning for her freshman year. After averaging 9.8 minutes per game last year, Williams has played 34 and 45 minutes in the first two games of this season. Still 30 point performances are notable in any case. Danni also had 2 assists and no turnovers.
But there were plenty of other excellent performances from other Ags in the final box score. Khaalia and Anriel both had double-doubles: They each had 17 points; Howard grabbed 16 boards; Hillsman 12. Jaz Lumpkin and Taylor Cooper were also in double figures with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Curtyce was solid at the point with 10 assists vs 1 turnover and adding 3 steals.
The Ags had a big edge in rebounding overall 45-34, and 22 offensive rebounds led to a massive 33-9 advantage in second chance points.
Caldwell was obviously the star for Tech with 38 points on 15/22 shooting (7/12 from 3). But Jada Terry shone in her return to Reed with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Jada’s 0/6 FT shooting will bother her, however, and Tech only got to the FT line 13 times vs 28 for the Ags.
- Stephen F Austin
- Sunday Nov 20, 2016 4PM CST at Reed Arena
- Streaming:SECN+ Radio 1150 AM/102.7 FM
The Ladyjacks are 1-1 with a road loss to S. Dakota and a 77-43 home win vs the Div 2 Oklahoma Panhandle State Aggies. Head Coach Mark Kellogg was 18-12 in his first season at SFA last year; before that he was head coach at Div 2 West Texas A&M. Likely starters
- 02 5-6 Sr G Taylor Ross was last season’s leading scorer and assists leader
- 04 5-8 So G Kennedy Harris averaged 4.1 ppg last year
- 21 6-0 Jr/Tr F Stevi Parker averaged 10.4 ppg last year and led the team in rebounds with 7.9 rpg.
- 22 5-5 Jr G Taylor Jackson is a JuCo transfer.
- 55 6-1 Sr C Adrienne Lewis averaged 6.3 ppg and 6.1 rpg