The Florida Gators hosted the Ags in their newly remodeled O-dome, now branded as the Exactech Arena. Exactech was still under construction when the season started, and Sunday’s contest would only be the fourth game hosted by the Women of the Swamp.
The game featured the SEC’s top 2 scorers as our own Danni Williams led the Gators Ronni Williams going into the contest.
Both teams came out smoking hot from the field. Florida’s game plan was clearly to take away Khaalia Hillsman in the paint using a collapsing 2-3 zone. Blair was expecting full court pressure, but with both teams thin on the bench, the Gators didn’t press early. With the defense focused on denying the paint, Danni Williams and Curtyce Knox were left open for early 3 pointers. The Ags led 12-6 at 6:31 and Florida Coach Amanda Butler called a timeout to regroup.
Midway through the quarter the Ags went cold and Ronni Williams got hot. Florida was extending their defense and forcing turnovers. The Gators took the lead at 22-21 with 1:52 left but Knox answered with another 3 pointer to make it 24-22.
Score after the first: Texas A&M 26, Florida 24
The Gator D frustrated the Ags and allowed Florida to pull out to a 32-26 lead just past 3 minutes into the second quarter. A&M regrouped and only allowed 4 more points for the rest of the half. By the end of the half, the lead was down to 1. A&M had 10 turnovers at halftime. 5 were by Knox, but as Blair pointed out in his halftime interview, 2 of those came when Hillsman dropped good entry passes.
36-35 Gators at halftime
Florida scored first in the second half but a nice baseline drive by Jasmine Lumpkin cut the lead back to 1. Blair brought Taylor Cooper in for Lumpkin. Another 3 pointer by Tyce gave the Ags the lead with 7:06 remaining in the third. Haley Lorenzen would tie the game at 40 on the next possession, but the Ags took the lead for good on a 3 pointer by Danni after two offensive boards kept a possession alive.
Khaalia got her third foul with 4 minutes to go in the third but Blair left her in the game. Florida wasn’t able to exploit the foul trouble, though and Danni reminded the Florida crowd why she was leading their Williams in scoring as the Ags went up by as many as 9. Ronni scored last in the third to give the Ags a 7 point lead going into the final period.
54-47 Ags after 3
Florida scored first again to open the 4th as Ronni Williams got a layup. But the Ags pulled away after. It felt like the Ags weren’t going on runs as much as they were just wearing down the Gators. But looking back at the play by play, it was a 7-0 run that got the lead to +15 with 2:37 remaining. Florida did try some pressure and got a turnover, but the Ags were in control.
Final score 67-59
- Danni Williams led all scorers with 25 points. Importantly, after starting off a bit impatiently, she was an efficient 9-16 from the field; 5-9 from 3. 18 of her points came in the second half, which was more than half the Ags total scoring after the intermission.
- Curtyce Knox assist average and A/TO ratio suffered from a 5 assist 9 turnover outing. But that doesn’t reflect how well she controlled the game from the PG position. And of course, adding 16 points on 5-10 shooting with 4-5 from 3 was nice. Tyce and Danni played the full 40 minutes
If I don’t score off Tyce’s passes, I look like a fool - Khaalia Hillsman in the postgame
- Khaalia Hillsman had 15 points on 5/5 shooting despite Florida’s emphasis on stopping her. She was also 5/6 on FTs and did a good job of not picking up her 4th foul until very late in the game
- Ronni Williams led the Gators with 24 points. She had 12 in the second half out of Florida’s post-intermission total of 23.
- In the postgame, Assistant Coach Bob Starkey explained that the game plan was to dare Florida to shoot long jumpers by packing the paint. He didn’t think that Ags executed that, especially in the first half. By chasing players out to the arc, the Ags were dominated in points in the paint 44-20.
- Missouri Tigers
- 8PM CST Thursday, January 19, 2017
- Mizzou Arena
- TV: SECN Radio 1150AM/102.7FM
Like Sunday’s game vs Florida, this is the We Back Pat game for the Tigers. Mizzou was picked by the SEC coaches to finish just ahead of the Ags and was ranked in preseason polls. They were 10-4 in their nonconference schedule, combining a loss to a very good Washington team, a loss to Georgia Tech, and some surprising losses to mid-majors IUPUI and St Louis. They opened SEC play by beating Georgia, but then lost to Kentucky, Alabama, and LSU. They broke the losing skid at Vanderbilt on Sunday.
Missouri has been steadily improving over the 7 years Coach Robin Pingeton has been in Columbia. Last year they were 22-10, losing in the second round of the NCAA tourney to Texas in Austin. A preseason ACL injury to Jordan Frericks and the graduation of other key contributors will make it hard to match that. Likely starters (stats not including Sunday’s win).
- #03 6-1 So G Sophie Cunningham was last season’s SEC freshman of the year. She leads the team in scoring at 17.1 ppg, assists at 3.8/game and is second in rebounding at 5.1/game. Her conference numbers are higher than her overall average. She’s a high energy player who can drive and shoot the three. She missed a couple of games early but has started all 16 games when she was available.
- #11 6-0 RS Sr G Lindsay Cunningham (6.9 ppg/4.4 rpg) is Sophie’s older sister and is a good player in her own right. Started every game last year and this year. Last year she set a team record for 3 point %. She leads the team in minutes.
- #21 6-4 So F Cierra Porter (14.2 ppg/9.1 rpg) leads the team in rebounds and blocked shots. Coach Blair called her one of the two most improved posts in the SEC (Khaalia is the other), which is a little scary since she dropped 20 points on the Ags when we played last year.
- #24 5-10 Sr G Sierra Michaelis (14.2 ppg) is a 3 point threat. She has taken more than twice as many 3 point attempts than anyone else on the roster. That’s on a team where 3 other players would be second in 3FGA if they were on the Ags.
- #1 5-7 RS Sr G Lianna Doty (4.6 ppg, 3.6 assists/g) took over a starting PG position from freshman Amber Smith after the IUPUI loss. Mizzou’s style is less PG centric than many schools.
Mizzou’s offensive style under Pingeton has been live by the 3 pointer; die by the 3 pointer. They will run transition plays to set up 3 pointers instead of layups. In Sunday’s win at Vanderbilt, they were 13-28 from beyond the arc and 25-49 overall.