I wasn't able to make it to Reed due to business travel, so this recap is based on watching the SECN stream over a hotel wifi.
Just to make sure it would be loud enough, it was Corps of Cadets night at Reed Arena on Thursday night. In the pregame, Coach Blair talked about how Jordan Jones had not been cleared to play from the concussion protocol following her injury late in the 4th quarter against the Lady Vols.
With Jones out, Coach Blair went with Hillsman, CWill, Howard, Walker, and Curtyce Knox. Coach Vic countered with Victoria Vivians, Ketara Chapel, Dominique Dillingham, Chinwe Okorie, and Morgan William. Walker and Vivians came into the game ranked 1, 2 in the SEC in scoring average.
Both teams struggled to finish early. Coach Blair subbed in Chelsea Jennings and Shlonte Allen for CWill and Knox in the middle of the first quarter with the score just 4-3. It was still 4-3 by the first media timeout at 4:32. The Ags were 1-9 plus a FT, while the Bulldogs were 2-9. A lot of the misses were blown layups.
Dillingham hit a 3 with the shot clock running out and then Walker answered with a pair of buckets to tie it at 7. Vic called timeout. It stayed tied until Vivians hit a buzzer beating 3 at the end of the quarter.
10-7 State. Ordinarily, holding an opponent to 23.5% shooting would be great. But the Ags only shot 17.6%. Walker and Hillsman had all the FGs.
Rachel Mitchell started the second quarter. Vivians hit another long three from the straight away early. She was almost on El Paso in the Texas Map. Once again, Walker answered with consecutive buckets to cut it to 13-11. Coach put Taylor Cooper into the game in the hope of stimulating some offense, but the Ags continued to shoot bricks. It was 15-11 at 6:20 when the officials stopped play to review a play where Rachel and Teaira McCowan got tangled up. It was called as fouls on both players. The one on Rachel was a T, so a pair of FTs and a score on the possession allowed MSU to go up 19-11. The Ags got a 4 pt possession when CWill scored and drew a foul and CWalk scored on a long offensive rebound.
Both teams struggled, but MSU was able to get up by 11 and that was the lead when William hit a pair of FTs with 47 seconds remaining in the half. Neither team did a good job of managing the clock to close out the half, but it worked out for the Ags as Danni Williams drew a foul on Dillingham to get a pair of FTs after a bunch of offensive rebounds, and then Taylor Cooper ended the half with a 3 pointer.
32-26 MSU at halftime.
The Ags improved their FG% to 31.4% for the half while MSU ended the half at 31.3%. The difference in the score came from a 4-1 edge in 3 pointers and a 8-3 edge from the FT line. Both teams had 11 offensive rebounds but MSU had the edge on the defensive glass 16-12. MSU had 11 turnovers to 9 for A&M. Walker led the Ags with 10 points. CWill continued to struggle early but warmed up a bit late to get 7 points. Morgan William led Miss State with 10. Dillingham had 7 while Vivians and Richardson added 6 apiece. Jennings and Allen had 2 fouls by halftime for A&M. On Vic's side, Dilligham and both posts had 2 fouls.
The Ags cut into the lead to start the quarter, but Vivians hit a 3 behind an Okorie screen to go back up 39-32 with 5:38 to go. Williams and Walker cut the lead to 3 around the media timeout, but McCowan was able to put back an offensive board to stretch the lead. But Walker got it to 3 and then a steal by Curtyce triggered a 2 on 1 fast break with CWill and Howard. Anriel cut the lead to 1.
Once again, Vivians answered. Khaalia finally hit a layup to make it 43-42. Curtyce got into the scoring column running off a screen by Rachel. CWill gave the Ags their first lead in a long time with 1:32 but Dillingham drove the right side to go back up quickly. But after the teams traded empty possessions, CWill took Dillingham off the right side and William couldn't hit the 3/4 court buzzer beater.
48-47 Ags. End of the 3rd.
CWill opened the final quarter with a 3 from the left corner off an assist from Walker. Vic went zone but Shlonte hit a long jumper to make it 53-47. Timeout MSU. A stop turned into a fast break from CWill to Walker leading to Dillingham getting called for her 3rd foul. State didn't score in the quarter until Richardson it a pair of FTs with 6:40 to go. It was 55-51 at the media timeout with 4:41 remaining. CWill and Dillingham traded baskets and Vic called another timeout with 3:11 to go.
William drew a foul on CWill and made a pair of FTs, but Knox and CWill made it 62-55 as the time went under a minute. Vivians cut the lead to 5. The Ags ran some clock but turned it over. Knox got called for a total BS call as Richardson ran out on the turnover. Richardson made both, but the time was down to 19.2 seconds remaining with the score 62-58. Timeout Ags to move the inbounds up into the forecourt.
Danni got tied up but the Ags had the arrow. Vic had to foul but wasn't in the bonus until Dillingham fouled out sending Shlonte to the FT line with 4.2 left. Allen hit both and Miss State couldn't score on the final play. Curtyce and Shlonte each had a clutch bucket down the stretch.
Final score: 64-58 Ags
- Courtney Williams broke out of her struggles after coming back from the stress reaction in her back to lead the team with 22 points. Courtney Walker had yet another 20 point performance, which means the CW network accounted for 42 of A&M's total of 64. Walker also spent a lot of the game defending Vivians very well.
- The two PGs struggled early to get the ball to the right players on offense, but they played a solid game, combining for 10 points (4 for Knox, 6 for Allen) and most importantly they had 6 assists (5 for Knox) against just 2 turnover (1 apiece). Coach Blair and Coach Vic both praised the backups after the game and Blair called Curtyce's late basket a key to the win.
- In the second half, the Ags shot 60% from the field and outrebounded State 16-15. Coach Blair talked about how without Jones, having the offense closer to the bench allowed him to communicate better.
- Morgan William led Miss. State with 18. Vivians had a subpar for her 13 on 5-20 shooting with 3 3-pointers.
- Before she came and helped the Ags to their 2011 National Championship, Danielle Adams was a JC star. She was named to the National Junior College Athletics Association Hall of Fame on Monday. Based on a comment made on the radio by Associate HC Kelly Bond-White, it sounds like Adams has been helping the Ags prepare by playing on the practice squad.
- This was an important win to keep the Ags chances alive to get the extra bye in the SEC tourney and to host in the NCAAs. With S. Carolina beating Florida, the Ags stayed in 4th place with the same W-L record as the Gators, but Florida has the tiebreaker thanks to their win over the Ags in Gainesville.
- Ole Miss
- 6PM CST, February 15, 2016
- Oxford MS
- SEC Network KZNE 1150AM/102.7FM
Since the two teams last played at Reed, the Rebels have an upset win over Kentucky. Unfortunately for Matt Insell's team, that was their only win since they played the Ags. Ole Miss is now 2-9 in conference play and tied with LSU for the cellar. And LSU has the head to head tiebreaker. On Thursday night Ole Miss lost to Auburn at home, blowing a 7 point lead after 3 quarters by getting outscored 20-8 in the fourth quarter.
Coach Insell is saying that his team is still playing hard, and while the Ags should be heavily favored, it would be easy to have a letdown after a run of close games and the emotional nature of the last two wins. Ole Miss likes to play pressure D and are very quick. They might not be deep enough yet to sustain their style of play through an SEC schedule, but we've also seen the Ags go on scoring droughts. And if Jones is still out, it will be the first road test for the team without JJ.
Let's sweep the Magnolia State. BTHO Ole Miss!!