Sunday started with the Ags alone in second place in the SEC at 9-4, up a game on Miss State, Florida, and Auburn tied for third at 8-5. By the time the Ags and Commodores tipped off at 4PM, Florida and Auburn had lost to Georgia and Mizzou, respectively, and Kentucky had knocked off Arkansas. That meant a 5-way tie at 8-6 with MSU and A&M just starting their games. Tennessee, a team expected to be 8-6, was upset by cellar-dweller LSU on a wild ending (this made me feel slightly better about how long it took us to put away LSU on Thursday night).
Memorial Gym in Nashville is a venue where visitors generally hate to play (ask the Aggie men), and the Ags had never won there. Coach Blair had a grand total of one win in Memorial from his time as the HC of the Lady Razorbacks before he arrived in Aggieland.
Coach Blair went back to the starting lineup of Jones, Walker, CWill, Howard, and Hillsman. Vandy went with Jasmine Jenkins, Spears. Reed, Batey and Webb. The Ags started getting good looks but not hitting. Vandy turned it over 3 times in the frst 2 minutes and called a timeout at 7:49 after CWill scored the first basket of the game for either team. At that point the Ags were 1 for 5 and Vandy hadn't gotten a shot off.
Webb tied it up on Vandy's first shot after the timeout, and Vandy took the lead on a fast break.The Ags continued to struggle to put the ball in the hole and Blair went small replacing Khaalia with Jasmine Lumpkin. That didn't last long with Webb posting up, and Rachel came in. Vandy had an 8-0 run until CWill hit a jumper. Jennings hit from the baseline to cut it to 8-6. Vandy outhustled the Ags to go back up 11-8. Turnovers gave Vandy a possession that allowed Batey to take Jennings to the basket. Walker's short J was countered by a 3 from Rachel Bell. CWill couldn't put back a JJ miss at the buzzer.
16-10 Vandy after 1. Vandy dominated in the paint.
Jones picked up her second foul trying to draw a charge. Her feed were just on the restricted arc. Danni got her first bucket after a mass substitution following Jones' foul. Walker cut it to 3 but Reed hit another 3. Jenkins gave Vandy an 8 point lead and then Curtyce got called for her second foul defending a fast break after a miss by Danni with about 4:45 left. The Ags continued to struggle on offense but Vandy was unable to stretch the lead to double digits.
30-22 Vandy at halftime. Walker and Jennings led the Ags with 6 points each. CWill and Rachel had 4 apiece. Reed led all scorers with 8 for the Dores, while Webb had 6. The Ags were outrebounded 16-14.
The Ags started Jennings for Howard in the second half and cam e out in a 3-2 zone. Walker and Jennings cut the lead to 30-26. But Jones got called for an offensive foul but stayed in. It got sloppy in the middle of the quarter with both teams turning the ball over and players falling down. Khaalia drew Webb's 3rd foul with 5:08 left and hit 1 of 2 from the line to make it 34-31 before the media timeout.
Bell scored after the timeout with the shot clock running down. The Ags answered and got another turnover on an offensive foul, but Walker couldn't convert inside. Khaalia committed her 3rd foul on a rebounding attempt. Then Anriel was called for a foul to put Vandy into the bonus. Batey stretched the lead to 4, but Khaalia was able to score inside to make it a 37-35. A backdoor play got it back to 4 and the Ags missed and broke down on D to allow Vandy to make it 41-35.
Suddenly both teams scored at will and traded baskets. Khaalia got called for her 4th with 24.3 seconds left in the quarter. Blair went with Howard instead of Rachel and Webb hit both FTs. Walker scored late from the left side to end the quarter.
47-43 Vandy at the end of 3.
Jennings opened th quarter by cutting the lead to 2. The Ags went back to man D with Howard at the 5 and CWill at the 4. JJ drew a charge on Jenkins to give the Ags a chance to tie it, but Anriel couldn't score inside and the Ags gave up an easy bucket to Batey. CWill cut it back to 2 and then drew a charge on Webb. It was Webb's 4th foul. CWill tied it up at 49. The Ags got a stop and then JJ found Anriel underneath and the Ags took the lead for the first time since 2-0.
Jennings made a great defensive play and Walker gave the Ags their first 2 possession lead. Jones stole an inbounds play and then Walker drew a shooting foul. Vandy turned it over again. Jones drove and kicked it out to Jennings, who hit from the corner. Jennings hit another to make it a 10 point lead at 3:47. Timeout Vandy.
Webb returned to the floor after the timeout, and Blair put Curtyce in to give JJ some rest. Jennings stole the inbounds pass and scored to make it 61-49. Webb took Anriel inside to break Vandy's scoring drought, but Walker drew another shooting foul and kept the lead at 12. Hillsman came back in, but was knocked down, allowing Webb to score easily. But Webb had to play carefully on D, allowing Khaalia to get a putback.
Vandy started fouling with 1:59 left to extend the game. JJ converted, but Dahlman hit a 3 to make it 66-56. Vandy fouled Williams, who missed both. Dahlman hit another 3. Walker missed one of two. Bell missed and sent CWalk back to the FT line with 1:19 remaining. This time CWalk hit both. Bell missed an open 3 and the Ags got possession as the ball went out of bounds. Curtyce was fouled before the inbounds pass and hit both. Webb fouled out on an illegal screen with 1:02 remaining. Spears fouled Walker. CWalk had another uncharacteristic miss but hit the second. Reed got a putback to make it 72-61 with 48.8 to go.
Vandy continued to foul before the inbounds pass, so the clock was only running on Vanderbilt possessions. Blair had his late game FT team in with JJ taking the ball out and Walker, Jennings, Curtyce, and Danni on the floor. The last minute seemed to take forever, but with the Ags hitting just enough FTs, the Dores eventually conceded and allowed the clock to run out.
Final score: Ags win 75-63.
- Courtney Walker led the Ags with 22 points on 6-11 shooting, combined with going 10 of 12 from the FT line. Walker also led the Ags in rebounds with 6. It was her 19th straight game in double figures. Chelsea Jennings had 20 coming off the bench on 7-10 shooting. Courtney Williams had 10 points and 3 assists. Jordan Jones only scored 1 point, but had 11 assists (8 in the second half). She also drew 3 charges.
- After turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, the Ags only had 3 in the second half. Meanwhile, the Aggie D forced the Dores into 25 turnovers, 14 of which came in the second half. During the 16-0 run in the 4th quarter, Vanderbilt only got off 2 shots.
- Morgan Batey led Vanderbilt with 15, while Christa Reed and Marqu'es Webb each scored 12. Rebekah Dahlman had 11, including a couple of 3 pointers at the end as Vandy tried to come back. Dahlman and Rachel Bell accounted for all of Vandy's 20 points from their bench.
- With the win, the Ags clinched a 6 seed or better for the SEC tourney. It was the first time the women had ever won at Memorial, and only the second time ever for Coach Blair. The win also marked the 11th straight year the Ags have had 20+ wins for the season.
- The Ags stayed a game up on MSU, which beat Ole Miss in Oxford.
- Auburn Tigers
- 6:30 PM CST, February 25, 2016
- Auburn AL
- TV: SEC Network whiparound coverage. Use the stream to watch the whole game. Radio: KZNE 1150AM/102.7FM
Auburn and Florida are the two biggest surprises of the season, and until Sunday's loss to Mizzou, the Tigers were the hottest team in the SEC, capping a 5 game win streak with a win against Florida. But 4 of those wins came against the weaker teams in the conference (LSU, Vandy, Bama, and Ole Miss) so it's hard to know just how good Auburn really is. Mizzou led from wire to wire, but their formula for getting the win is not something the Ags are likely to use: Mizzou was 8-17 from behind the arc, which helped overcome 22 turnovers. Auburn's style is to press and play zone on D. They are averaging 11.6 steals/game. Likely starters:
- #10 5-10 Jr G Brandy Montgomery (14.6 ppg) is the leading scorer. She's started every game and is a 3 point threat.
- #44 6-3 Sr F/C Tra'Cee Tanner (12.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg). Tanner is the younger of a pair of sisters who played together at Auburn. She's the leading rebounder by a large margin, and also leads the team in blocked shots, averaging 1/game.
- #13 6-1 Jr W Katie Frerking (12.4 ppg) was SEC player of the week last week. Frerking left the Mizzou game early with an elbow injury that required stitches. Frerking had a double double against the Ags in last seasons's SEC. tournament.
- #33 5-6 Fr G Janiah McKay (8.9 ppg). McKay appears to have taken over the PG position from Khady Dieng, who is more naturally a 2 guard but had to play point last season.
- #15 6-2 So F Jazmine Jones (5.6 ppg) doesn't score a lot, but her FG% is .500. She seems to do most of her work inside the arc, as she's only attempted 1 3-pointer all season. She's also fouled out more than any other player on the roster.
The Ags beat Auburn pretty easily twice last season, but this team may be much more dangerous, especially if Frerking isn't limited by the injury.
I will be on the road for work-related stuff for the Auburn game and for Senior Day vs Kentucky. If I can watch, I'll do a recap, but this trip will be in an area where it may not happen.