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WBB: Texas A&M takes down LSU 68-64

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The Women's Bouncy Ball team did just enough to put away LSU at Reed

Courtney Walker and Rachel Mitchell watch a shot by Chelsea Jennings
Courtney Walker and Rachel Mitchell watch a shot by Chelsea Jennings
jimhu's iPhone

The Ags usually wear white with pink trim for home breast cancer games, but they got new all-pink uniforms for Thursday night's game. The team was excited to see that instead of their last names, they had nicknames under their numbers on the backs of the jerseys.

First quarter

After missing two games, Jordan "JJ" Jones returned to the starting lineup along with Courtney "Cee Walk" Walker, Courtney "Cee Will" Williams, Anriel "Lashes" Howard, and Khaalia "Big Homie" Hillsman. LSU, in their white uniforms, went with Rina Hill, Akila Bethel, Alexis Hyder, Jasmine Rhodes, and Shanice Norton.  Both teams started slowly, with the first bucket coming at 7:36 on a jumper by CWill after Jones showed that she was her old self by taking a hard charge (as the crowed collectively cringed). It wasn't quite as bad as the first quarter in Baton Rouge, which ended 8-4 in favor of LSU, but there were a lot of missed layups inside.

It was 7-3 Ags when Coach Fargas subbed in Jenna Deemer, who saw her first playing time in several games. Deemer quickly hit a 3 to tie the game at 7. It was tied again at 9 and 11 before the Ags took the lead from the FT line after LSU fouls put A&M into the bonus.

14-11 after the first

Second quarter


With both Khaalia and Rachel "Ray" Mitchell having trouble taking advantage of their height advantage in the paint, Coach Blair went to a small lineup early in the second quarter. Through the quarter, Coach Blair used a bunch of different combinations off the bench, so that by the intermission 11 different Ags had seen the floor. The small lineup was able to build the lead up to 9 by the 7:50 mark. LSU cut it to 5 before the Ags went back up by 10 at the intermission. Curtyce "Tyce" Knox and Jasmine "Jazzi" Lumpkin had some good minutes, with Tyce hitting a 3 and Jazz making a strong move in the lane for a layup. JJ and Chelsea "CJ" Jennings also hit from 3, with Taylor "Coop" Cooper getting an assist on Jennings' bomb.

34-24 Ags at half.

CWill led all scorers with 9 points. Jones had 6, while Walker and Knox added 5 each. The Ags outrebounded LSU 20-15. Rina Hill led the Tigers with 8 points, mostly on mid-range jumpers, while Hyder added 7 and Deemer had 5 off the bench. Hyder and Shanice Norton both finished the half with 3 fouls.

Third quarter

The Ags opened the second half with a turnover, which is how A&M had opened the first quarter. A 3 point play cut the lead to 7. After Howard got it back to 9 with a pair of FTs, LSU wound up with a 4 point possession that could have been worse. Jasmine Rhodes scored and Khaalia and Ann Jones got involved in some tussle I couldn't see from our end of the court. It wound up as a foul on Jones plus a technical flagrant foul on Khaalia for throwing an elbow. Fortunately it wasn't an ejection for Big Homie, but Jones hit both FTs and LSU kept possession of the ball. Even though the Ags got a stop, the result was to cut the lead to 5. The lead fluctuated as A&M was flat on D and commited some questionable fouls. The Ags were able to get it back to a 9 point margin with 3:49 to go on a jumper by Jennings, and again at 3:00 on a Walker basket, but each time it seemed like the Ags should pull away, LSU clawed back. Deemer and Hyder got the lead back to 5 by the end of the quarter, which meant that LSU had outscored A&M 19-14.

48-43 Ags after 3.

Fourth quarter


The crowd was getting restless when LSU opened the final period by scoring on their first possession. Deemer hit a jumper to cut the lead to 3. Offensive boards gave the Ags 3 chances to answer, but Danni "D-Will" Williams missed a pair of 3 point attempts and Rachel committed an offensive foul away from the ball. LSU came down the court with a chance to cut the lead to 1 or tie with a 3 pointer. But after Ann Pederson missed and JJ grabbed the rebound, Coach went back to the small lineup. Jennings scored and then JJ turned a steal into a fast break, getting fouled by Hill with both players crashing into the area around the basket support. Jones hit 1 of 2, and LSU would not come within 6 again.

The Ags superior depth wore down the Tigers, along with the foul trouble that began in the first half. The Ags pulled away late.

Final score: 68-54 A&M d. LSU

Overall
In the post-game, the coaches and players all talked about how this was a subpar performance on defense and in rebounding. Defensively, the Ags man to man was having trouble with the switches LSU was forcing at the top of the key. Eventually, A&M switched to zone defenses and played a mix of 2-3 and 1-3-1 in the second half. On the boards, the Ags won the overall battle, but gave up too many offensive boards and second chance points.
  • CWill led all scorers with 17 points. She added 6 rebounds 2 assists, and a steal. Walker started slowly but finished with 14 points and 7 boards. Jennings had 13 points off the bench. Overall, the Ags shot 44.2% from the field.
  • In her return, Jones had 9 assists against just 2 turnovers.
  • LSU was led by Hill with 14 and Hyder with 13. Deemer and Bethel each had 9, leaving Bethel one point short of a double-double
  • While A&M and LSU were in the first half, Kentucky was finishing off a dominating win over Mississippi state in Starkville. The Ags were already in second place thanks to the tiebreaker with MSU, but now have a 1 game lead over MSU, Florida and Auburn, who are in a three-way tie for 3rd place in the SEC.

Up next

  • Vanderbilt Commodores
  • 4PM CST February 21, 2016
  • Memorial Gym, Nashville, TN
  • TV: SEC Network Radio KZNE 1150AM/102.7FM

Vanderbilt was picked to finish 11th in the preseason SEC WBB poll, in part because 4 significant contributors transferred in the off-season. In a season where everyone else below S. Carolina is off from the predictions, Vandy is in 11th after falling to Florida on Thursday. Probable starters

  • #33 5-11 So G Christa Reed  (10.7 ppg 3.1 rpg) is one of 2 players who has started 25 games. She leads the team in scoring.
  • #23 5-10 RS-Jr G Minta Spears (5.7 ppg, 4.2 asst/g) has also started 25 games.
  • #22 6-1 Jr F Marqu'es Webb (7.0 ppg 5.6 rpg) is the leading rebounder.
  • #25 5-10 Sr G Morgan Batey (6.7 ppg) has only started 7 games, but she started against both UK and Florida, and has had some good games vs A&M.
  • #3 5-10 So G Rachel Bell didn't start against Florida. She was replaced in the lineup by #41 5-7 So G Miaya Seawright, a walk-on, but Seawright only played 10 minutes to 18 for Bell. This last starting spot could also go to Rebekah Dahlman or Jasmine Jenkins.

Overall, 10 different players have started at least 1 game for Vandy, indicating that Coach Melanie Balcomb is trying to find a productive combination. After upsetting Kentucky at the end of January, Vandy is now on a 6 game losing streak. Most of the games haven't been very close. But the Coach Blair has not gotten a win at Vanderbilt since coming to A&M. He hates playing in their gym and the Ags have had some pretty horrific offensive performances there. This might be as good a chance as we'll see, but the combination of zone D and the weird layout at Memorial could be bad.

BTHO Vanderbilt!