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WBB: Ags let one get away at Mizzou in OT

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Some key mistakes at the end by the Women’s Bouncy Ball team let Mizzou escape a second half comeback

Gary Blair
Gary Blair’s team couldn’t come away with another comeback win
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

The Women had clawed their way back into the rankings at #25, but a visit to Columbia would test the Ags. Mizzou is better than the two teams we just beat, and also presents matchup problems.

First quarter

The Ags scored first the first two baskets but then went cold from the field as Mizzou went on a 15-0 run, during which Sophie Cunningham scored 8. Mizzou’s zone defense was focused on preventing Curtyce from getting entry passes in to Khaalia mostly by sagging off of the forwards. The Ags were settling for jumpers and missing. The Ags were also struggling on D with stopping penetration as Khaalia was being drawn out to the perimeter. Porter was quick enough to beat Khaalia off the dribble in one case, but in others the Tigers were moving the ball so others could penetrate the area vacated. Anriel Howard went to the bench with a foul just over 3 minutes into the game and was replaced by Taylor Cooper. When Coach Blair put her back in at 3:15, she drew a second foul pretty quickly. Blair left her in for the rest of the half. Blair also tried putting in Walnatia Wright for Hillsman late in the quarter to get more offense.

A Cooper 3-pointer broke the Mizzou run, but after trading baskets to end the quarter the Ags were still down 8.

17-9 Missouri after 1

Second quarter

Coach Blair tried a couple of alternative lineups early before getting Hillsman back in the game. The Ags got the lead down to 5, but Missouri answered. By the end of the quarter the two teams had played evenly for the second 10 minutes, which meant that A&M went into the intermission still down 8.

30-22 Missouri at Halftime

Sophie Cunningham had 14 points by halftime. The Ags ineffectiveness at getting the ball through the sagging zone was reflected in Hillsman getting only 4 points in the first half. She was 2-2 on FGs, but just couldn’t get touches. Anriel led A&M with 6 points, but was 3-7 as Missouri dared her to take midrange jumpers. Danni was 2-9, Jaz 0-3, Curtyce 2-4.

Third quarter

Each team had scored only one FG (a 3 by Danni vs a layup by Sophie Cunningham) when Cierra Porter commited her 3rd foul and went to the bench. Against Porter’s backup, Khaalia was able to get better inside position, and the coaches must have told the Ags to feed Hillsman even with the sagging D. Khaalia was able to split the double team and score several times, allowing the Ags to get within 4 twice. But Mizzou and Sophie Cunningham were able to fight off the Ags and limit the damage in the quarter to just 2 points. Anriel was called for her third foul in the middle of the quarter and Blair continued to roll the dice and leave her in.

Mizzou 43 Ags 37 after the third

Fourth quarter

Porter made up the 2 points gained in the third right off the bat with a jumper, but Curtyce answered with a floater in the lane that started a run for the Ags. Taylor Cooper ran the baseline to hit an open look from the left side, but Anriel was called for her 4th foul jockeying for rebounding position. Blair left her in. Curtyce hit a 3. Cooper hit a 3 with 6:50 left to put the Ags up for the first time since 4-2 in the first. But on the next possession Anriel fouled out with 6:33 to go. It was the dreaded automatic minor contact while muggings go uncalled arm check call, and it was especially unfortunate because S Cunningham had already beaten her off the dribble and Anriel did it from behind.

Another 3 by Tyce gave the Ags a 5 point lead with 5:12 to go, but Mizzou clawed back to tie the game at 50. Cooper and Knox got it to 55-50 with 1:23 remaining. On the subsequent Tiger possession, Taylor came over to help on an entry pass to S Cunningham and knocked the ball out of bounds, but the refs said she committed a foul. On replay it looked clean to me. With Mizzou in the bonus, 2 FTs cut the lead to 55-52.

The Ags brought the ball down. Mizzou had fouls to give, so a reach in on Cunningham didn’t result in free throws. Curtyce ran the clock down and Khaalia came up to the top of the key to set a pick. Curtyce came off the pick and drove to penetrate the right side. I thought there was a lot of contact by Cunningham on the shot but no call. The rebound was fumbled around and Curtyce was called for a ticky tack foul diving for the loose ball. Lianna Doty hit both FTs to cut the A&M lead to 1.

Blair called timeout to advance the ball to the front court. Mizzou used one of their fouls to give and Curtyce took the ball out on the baseline. Mizzou defended the inbounds play well and Curtyce double clutched and inbounded the ball to Khaalia instead of throwing a longer pass to Danni. That hesitation led to a 5 second call. At first I thought there was no way because Blair had a time out to use to prevent that. But I replayed it and timed it twice and the call was correct, and in the postgame Kelly Bond called it a mental error.

Mizzou couldn’t convert their possession, though and the Mizzou had to foul Danni on the rebound 8 second to go. But Danni only could hit 1 of 2 FTs to make it a 2 point lead. The Ags deflected the inbounds pass but it went straight to Cunningham, who drove for the tying layup. It almost seemed like the Ags reacted to the deflection in a way that took them out of position to defend the drive. A desperation heave by Danni didn’t go.

56-56 after regulation

Overtime

The older Cunningham opened the scoring in OT with a 3 pointer. The Ags continued to fight and held Mizzou without a FG until Porter hit a layup at 1:09. But fouls kept sending Sophie Cunningham to the FT line, where she hit 6-6 before the Ags fell into foul to extend the clock mode. Danni and Khaalia cut the OT lead to 1 4 times (twice each), but the Ags couldn’t get over the hump. Both teams seemed to be gassed as the OT wound down and Sierra Michaelis gave A&M one last chance by fouling Curtyce with 11 seconds left with Missouri up 74-71. Curtyce was only able to make 1 of 2, continuing a night of woes from the FT line for A&M. A Knox jumper kept the Ags barely alive at 76-73 with 6 seconds left, but A&M couldn’t get a turnover and Danni had to foul out with 2 second remaining, joining Anriel and Jasmine as players to foul out. Lindsay Cunningham hit two more FTs to ice the win. The final score was closer thanks to Curtyce hitting a halfcourt heave.

Overall

  • The main story of this game was Sophie Cunningham. Even with some home cooking from the refs, the sophomore had a huge performance and the Ags just couldn’t find an answer for her. 36 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. 14-15 from the FT line. 43 minutes, stayed out of foul trouble, and having to defend her affected Anriel and Jasmine. Mizzou was able to get several situations where she was able to post up a much smaller Curtyce.
  • The second big takeaway is the outstanding job Robin Pingeton did in coming up with a game plan on both ends. The 15-0 run in the first quarter was built on the design of the Missouri zone, which took away our inside game. Some of that was on the Ags not adjusting until the second half, but give Missouri credit too.
  • Knox was only credited with 4 assists, but this is because most of Khaalia’s second half production involved having to put the ball on the floor while turning left. Curtyce had 25 points on 10-17 shooting. Khaalia had another double double with 19 points and 11 boards. Danni had an off night, going 5-16 from the floor (1-6 from 3). I thought she tried to help the team in other ways after starting 2-9 in the first half. She only took 3 shots in the second half while having 2 of the Ags 5 assists. It was not a good night for Howard (6 points on 3-10 shooting, 5 rebounds) and Lumpkin (2 points on 0-8 shooting, 6 rebounds). Taylor Cooper made up for some of that production by playing 36 minutes and scoring 11 on 4-9 shooting (3-7 from 3) and 6 boards.
  • Unusually poor FT shooting was coupled by a big disparity in FT attempts. A&M was 9-20 from the line, while Mizzou was 27-33.
  • Paul Sunderland is a horrible play by play announcer. He’s called two Aggie women’s games in a row now and he’s just bad. He has a mellifluous voice, but he’s simply inaccurate and easily confused. He would be better if he took the Dave South “that guy” approach instead of repeatedly misidentifying who committed fouls, getting the score wrong, and saying things like “So Texas A&M strikes first to start the fourth quarter” on the third basket of the period.

The loss drops the Ags to 14-5 (4-2), which is still good for a tie with Auburn for 4th in the SEC, behind S. Carolina and Miss State at 6-0 and 4-1 Auburn. Auburn shocked Tennessee on Thursday night, overcoming a big first half lead by the Lady Vols, who had come into the game feeling good about their upset win over #6 Notre Dame. While it’s good to still be in the upper tier of the standings, that should be tempered by the knowledge that the toughest part of our conference SoS lies ahead.

Up Next

  • LSU Tigers
  • Sunday Jan 22, 2017 4PM CST
  • Reed Arena
  • TV: SEC Network Radio: 1550 AM. The radio station is different due to NFL coverage on KZNE 1150

LSU is vastly improved from last year, when key injuries really affected their ability to hang with other teams and the Ags beat them handily twice. They are 3-3 in conference but their losses are to Miss State, Kentucky and S. Carolina. They beat the Mizzou team we just lost to. Expect a lot of zone and pressure. Likely starters

  • #0 5-9 So G Chloe Jackson 14.8 ppg
  • #11 5-10 Jr Raigyne Moncrief 14.8 ppg has a team leading 67 steals. Her injury last year was a big part of LSU’s struggles in 15-16.
  • #20 5-11 Sr F Alexis Hyder 8.4 ppg
  • #5 6-2 RS Fr F Ayana Mitchell 7.6 ppg
  • #13 5-7 Sr G Rina Hill 5.8 ppg is the kind of player you love if she’s on your team but hate when she’s on the other side. High energy, takes lots of charges.

Avoiding turnovers and getting the inside game going should be key. LSU is getting outrebounded for the season, but is +7.5 in turnovers/game. They’re averaging 13.5 steals per game.