A few thousand die-hard Women’s Bouncy Ball fans made it to Reed Arena to watch the women’s first game after getting dominated in the second half by Oregon. Old Blair buddy Joe Foley brought the UALR Trojans in for the pre-Thanksgiving game.
Apropos of the holiday, the Ags first half performance was kind of a turkey. Little Rock was out-hustling our Ags and after making the first points on a Khaalia Hillsman layup, the girls got outscored in the first quarter 22-14. The Ags missed 8 layups in that opening period and looked disorganized and out of sync.
Coach Blair had hoped to work on man defense in this game, but switched to zone in the second quarter. The offense only managed 16 points, but UALR was shut down against the zone. For much of the half, only Danni Williams was scoring relatively reliably and even she was uneven in her shot selection. A late burst from Chennedy Carter and a couple of FTs from Hillsman let the Ags go into the intermission tied at 30. But the half had been ugly: 34% shooting, 3 assists, 7 turnovers. A&M let UALR shoot 42.9% from the field and only outrebounded the shorter Trojans by 1.
In the post-game radio interview, Anriel Howard described the halftime as: “We got yelled at.”
The Ags responded by opening the third quarter with a 10-0 run, getting 3 UALR turnovers before the visitors scored. A&M increased the defensive pressure overall in the second half. With 4:21 to go in the third, this sweet fast break made the score 44-31
By the end of the third, the Ags had held UALR to 8 points in the quarter and the lead was 14. Coach Blair was finally able to play more of the bench by the end of the game. Kayla Wells and Jada Walton made it a 19 point lead with strong moves to the basket in the last minute before Yanina Inkina scored with 1 second left.
Final Score 66-49
Danni Williams led the Ags with 18 points. Chennedy Carter was just behind with 17. Anriel Howard and Khaalia Hillsman were also in double figures in points. Anriel had another double double by adding 12 board. Khaalia fell one rebound short.
I'll take all the blame for my offense in the first half. I'm trying to run too many sets to get Khaalia [Hillsman] isolated and we are throwing the ball away or she's travelling. We need to be more free-wheeling offense and get better up and down the court in transition. If we get it inside fine, but if not don't worry about it. Let's just keep attacking and do some other things. Hopefully we change before we get to Texas Tech. - Coach Blair
Khaalia Hillsman joined the 1000 point club in the second half, but wasn’t pleased with how she’s played so far. Some of it is her not being in mid-season form, but it also looks to me like she’s trying to force things when she does get the ball, even when it’s delivered late or in a suboptimal position on the block. Last year, Curtyce Knox was brilliant at getting the ball to Hillsman in ways that made it easier for her to score. Carter is an exceptionally talented freshman, but this is an aspect of her game that isn’t where we think it can eventually be yet.
- Texas Tech Lady Raiders
- Sunday Nov 26, 2017 2PM CST
- United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock, TX
- TV: Fox Sports Southwest Radio: 1150 AM/102.7 FM
The team will have a group Thankgiving meal with the staff and family members who have come to town. Then they head to Lubbock for their first road game of the season. Coach Candi Whitaker’s team took the Ags to OT last year in Reed Arena. Guard Recee Caldwell scored 38 and A&M Transfer Jada Terry had 24 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out. This summer, Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes joined the Tech coaching staff as Director of Player Development. The Lady Raiders are 3-1 for the season, with the loss coming in their opener vs Texas State. Likely starters:
- #0 6-1 Sr Tr F Brielle Blaire started out at Virginia Tech. She played last season, but not in our game. She’s averaging 12 ppg.
- #32 6-1 Sr F Dayo Olabode came off the bench and only played 6 minutes vs the Ags last time. But she’s averaging 11.8 ppg so far.
- #20 6-5 So F Brittany Brewer leads the team in scoring at 15.5 ppg. She came off the bench last year and played 30 minutes at Reed, blocking 5 shots.
- #4 5-9 Jr G Recee’ Caldwell started her career at UCLA. She lit up the Ags last year and was All B12 Honorable Mention on the season.
- #12 6-4 C Sr Tr Jada Terry started every game last season after sitting out 2015-16 following her transfer from A&M.
This should be an interesting test for the Ags. Like Oregon, Tech has more size than the other opponents we’ve faced so far, and it’s the first road trip. Lubbock is the closest the Ags will get to Danni Williams’ hometown of Clovis, NM, and the Ags should get some of her friends and family in the crowd on Sunday. For Tech, A&M is a major step up from their other opponents.