When we last left the Women’s Bouncy Ball team, they had just finished demolishing Texas Tech in Lubbock. The Ags returned for back to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday night and came away with two wins vs Prairie View and Rice.
Tuesday: Prairie View
The Panthers had a serious size disadvantage but played hard. Even vs an overmatched team like Prairie View it would be hard to match A&M's 34-5 opening quarter in Lubbock, and the Ags only led 21-15 after the first. The halftime lead was 49-27 and the bench got a lot of minutes throughout the game. Prairie View outscored A&M in the third quarter but that only cut the lead to 72-54. A&M pulled away in the final period to win 98-70.
Despite the decisive win there was a sense that the Ags should have played better.
We definitely started way slower than we are supposed to. We sometimes play down to our opponents and that is not how we want to come out. We definitely have to change that. If we come out against Rice on a slow start, they are too good to do that against. So, I think we have to stop underestimating our opponents -- Khaalia Hillsman
Coach Blair was clearly experimenting with different combinations rather than just throwing line changes of bench players out there. He tried Khaalia and Caylinne Martin together as a two bigs lineup among other experiments. We're still playing a lot more zone than I expected and small quick guards are getting layups even when we have a size advantage. Shala Dobbins led the Panthers with 19 points.
For the Ags, Hillsman led the Ags with 20 points and 9 boards. Danni Williams scored 15. Jasmine Lumpkin had 13 and Chennedy Carter continued her streak of scoring 10+ points in every game of her young career with 12.
Rice basically plays a 4-5 guard lineup where everyone can hit 3-pointers. 6-1 Nicole Iademarco is listed as a G/F and is the tallest starter. She was joined by 5-9 Erica and 5-11 Olivia Ogumwike, 5-9 Wendy Knight and 5-7 Gabrielle Stanton.
The Ogumwike sisters grew up in Cypress and transferred from Pepperdine. If the family name sounds familiar it's because their older sisters, 6-2 Nneka and 6-3 Chiney were stars on the Stanford team that the Ags beat in the Final Four in 2011. Nneka and Chiney have gone on to be successful in the WNBA. So those two were not likely to be intimidated by size. Sure enough, after the Ags scored first, the Ogumwike sisters accounted for all the Rice points to gain a 9-4 lead just a bit over 2 and a half minutes into the game. By the middle of the quarter we could see the A&M coaches were not happy with how the team was playing.
Carter was pulled late in the first quarter and sat for the rest of the half and beyond. Lulu McKinney played the point to finish out the first quarter and into the second. Rice led 25-17 after 1. The Ags would cut into the lead and Assoc. Head Coach Kelly Bond-White would say later that McKinney's defense was part of what held Rice in check in the second quarter. But Lulu struggled on offense and Blair sent her to the bench with 4:53 to go in the half and the Ags still down 32-26. Walton seemed to spark the team despite a couple of freshman turnovers on ill-advised passes. She pushed the tempo, scored 6 on perfect 3-3 shooting in just 5 minutes before the intermission. She also had a steal in part of a surge that allowed the Ags to take the lead and go into the locker room up 36-33.
We noticed that Carter and Blair didn't come out when the team was doing second half warmups, and Carter was still in the locker room when the second half started with McKinney playing point. A&M got the lead to 7 twice, but each time Rice answered with a 3 pointer. Carter returned to the floor with 6:08 remaining in the third quarter and contributed 2 buckets in the period. But the Owls, who had shot 6-13 from behind the arc in the first half, drained 6 out of 7 bombs in the third quarter. The net result is that the Ags and the Owls went into the final period tied at 55.
Blair went to a small lineup to start the final period. But Rice recognized the weakness and with Khaalia out, the Owls used the threat of the 3 to run back door cuts and take a 62-57 lead. Spurred on by the crowd, the Ags increased their defensive pressure and tied it at 64 with 6:06 remaining. A&M took the lead a few minutes later. The Ogumwike's got it back to 1 but got stuck on 69 points long enough for the Ags to put the game away. A blocked shot by Khaalia turned into a jumper for Anriel Howard and Rice was forced to foul to stop the clock. The Ags would hit enough free throws to ice it and win 82-76.
I thought it was sweet how Erica Ogumwike went to hug Coach Blair on her way to the Rice bench after fouling out.
When we are on the road, we lose this game. Thank heavens our fans did not give up on us. Sometimes we were giving up on ourselves. Our defense was horrible the whole night. We made a couple of plays or they turned it over in crucial time and it really hurt them in the last quarter. Whether we were in man or we were in zone, we didn't understand switching; we didn't understand how to guard a 3-point shooter. Three games in four days, did that have something to do with it? It wasn't our legs; it was our decision making and when you have poor decision making on offense and defense. All that was, was a bump 2-3 zone. Khaalia Hillsman touched the ball one time in the second half. 3-for-5 and she didn't even shoot. She has got to learn to move and get herself open and we have to be able to feed the ball. But there is no excuse for no good shot attempts in the first half. - Gary Blair
Anriel Howard had a career high in scoring with 23 as part of yet another double double. Danni Williams had 19 points and played all 40 minutes. Despite being on the bench for all but 23 minutes, Chennedy Carter scored 17 to continue her streak of having double digit points in every game as an Ag.
Chennedy made some plays; she made some tough shots and got fouls but give her credit, it wasn't her best night. She knows it and that is why she was on the bench in the second quarter. But the kid responded in the second half and made some pretty good things on the offensive end. She was just like everyone else on the defensive end. She gave up as many as she scored. - Coach Blair
- #11 West Virginia Mountaineers
- Sunday Dec 3, 2017 7PM CST
- Reed Arena
- TV: ESPNU Streaming SECN+ Radio 1150AM/102.7 FM
West Virginia is 6-0 so far. Coach Bond describes them as like Rice in how they shoot the 3 but much more athletic. The Ags have played 3 games since the Mountaineers last played, beating Va Tech in the Paradise Jam. In that 79-61 win, the starters scored all the points.
Likely starters are all juniors and seniors from a team that surprised last season by winning the B12 tourney. As a 6 seed, the Mountaineers took care of Elon in the first round before falling to host 3 seed Maryland. 3 starters return from that team and a 4th saw 17.9 minutes per game. WVU did graduate Tynice Martin's 18.6 ppg and Lanay Montgomery's 10.6 ppg.
- 6-1 Sr F Teana Muldrow averaged 14.5 ppg as a junior and is averaging 23.8 ppg so far this year.
- 6-3 Sr F Kristina King was a major contributor off the bench last season. This year she's averaging 12 ppg and 7 rebounds per game. She is the only one who hasn't taken a 3 pointer so far.
- 5-9 Jr G Katrina Pardee averages 13.2 ppg. She's taken the most 3 point attempts so far at 35, making 10.
- 5-8 Sr G Chiana Ray is averaging 5.8 assists per game while scoring 11.2 ppg.
6-0 Jr G Naomi Davenport is the one newcomer among the starters, coming in as a Juco all American. 15.7 ppg. She leads team in rebounding with 8.8 per game.