The Women's Bouncy Ball team got another win on Saturday vs the University of Central Arkansas as the opener for a double header with the Men. Sugar Bears coach Sandra Rushing brought a short-handed team to Reed Arena. She had suspended six players for violation of team rules before their game with Central Baptist College on Thursday night. While four only sat that game, two starters, Kamry Orr and Kierra Johnson, were also held out of the game with the Ags at Reed.
So, with two starters missing from a team that was already an undersized underdog that we beat last year by 25 points, one might have been forgiven for thinking that this would be a good time to get lots of minutes for the bench. Especially coming off a couple of flawed performances with motivation to fix what's wrong. And at the start of the game it looked like the Ags would indeed run away with it. A&M ran out to an 11 point lead with 3:02 remaining in the first quarter, which ended with the Ags up 23-16.
The second quarter started with UCA going 1-2 from the FT line followed by the Ags going inside to Khaalia Hillsman to make it a 25-17 lead. Then the offense went into hibernation. A&M would go 2-14 for the rest of the half, much of it with Hillsman on the bench to give some minutes to Caylinne Martin. Central Arkansas wasn't exactly on fire either, but when you score 6 points in a quarter, it's not surprising that the other team can mount a comeback. The game was tied at 29 at halftime. The posts were putting the ball in the bucket when they got looks, for the most part. Hillsman was 3-5, Anriel Howard was 5-8, and Martin was 1-1. And the bigs only turned it over once; A&M only had a total of 4 turnovers in the half.
The problem was that the guards were shooting bricks. Danni Williams remained in her post-Naismith watch list slump, going 1-6. Chennedy Carter was also 1-6. Lulu McKinney came off the bench and went 0-2.
The second half began as it often does when this team comes out of the locker room: after a defensive stop, the Ags got the ball inside to Hillsman for a score. UCA tied it up but a 3 point play by Anriel would give A&M the lead for good. And yet, the Ags couldn't pull away. The Ags would go up 8 in the middle of the third, but poor defense allowed the Sugar Bears to cut it to 3 by the end of the quarter.
Carter hit a 3 pointer to open the final period but UCA answered with a pair of 3 pointers around a jumper by Jasmine Lumpkin cut it to 54-52. The lead bounced between 4 and 6 with Taylor Sells making some layups off crossover drives that left Ag defenders looking bad, while the inside game kept A&M in front. UCA finally ran out of gas in the middle of the fourth quarter, allowing the Ags to pull away for a 72-61 win that was closer than the score.
We've got to do a better job, but we are not a very good defensive team. We're making too many mistakes. We will get better, that's all I can promise you. - Gary Blair in the postgame
Listening to the postgame on the radio, Hillsman and Assistant Coach Amy Wright expressed similar frustrations. Wright said something to the effect of "We aren't getting better. We aren't good enough to think about stepping on another team's throat".
- Khaalia Hillsman led the Ags with 26 points. She had 6 rebounds, blocked 3 shots and only turned it over once.
- Anriel Howard tied Danielle Gant and Kelsey Bone for the career record for double doubles at 19. Anriel is just a junior and she's had 6 in 10 games this year, so it wouldn't surprise me if she doubles the record by the time she leaves.
- Chennedy Carter's double-digit scoring streak was kept alive by scoring 8 in the second half.
- Danni Williams is still in a slump. After going 1-6 in the first half, she only was 2-5 in the second. But she finished with 4 assists and it looked to me like she was working hard to get teammates open.
- UCA was led by two Taylors. Taylor Baudoin led the team with 18 points, while Taylor Sells, who Blair called the best player on the floor on Saturday, had 15.
- Univ of Southern California Trojans
- Friday Dec 15, 2017 9PM CST.
- Galen Center, Los Angeles, CA
- TV: Pac-12 Network Radio 1150AM/102.7FM
The Women of Troy are unbeaten in Mark Trakh's return to USC as head coach. Trakh coached USC from 2004-2009 when he resigned after going 17-15 (9-9 in conference). He took a couple of years off and returned to coaching the New Mexico State Aggies from 2011 through last season, having taken a WAC bottom feeder to 3 straight conference titles.
USC beat A&M last year on Elementary School Day at Reed. Likely starters:
- #35 6-2 Sr F Kristen Simon 18 ppg 8 rpg. Simon led all scorers last year vs A&M with 20. She's a Lisa Leslie watch list player and was All-Pac12.
- #03 5-8 So G Minyon Moore 15.6 ppg 4 rpg 5.5 assists/game. She played 29 minutes off the bench last year at Reed, scoring 7.
- #14 5-10 Sr G Sadie Edwards 14.5 ppg. She played 27 minutes at Reed and had 18 points.
- #215-9 Jr G Aliyah Mazyck 14.2 ppg. Mazyck started at Reed last year and had 2 points.
- #01 6-1 RS Gr. G Jordan Adams 5.0 ppg. Adams tore her ACL last year in the 5th game and got an extra medical redshirt after redshirting as freshman due to an injury.
Those 5 have started all 8 games for the Trojans, who will be coming off a long stretch without a game. Their last game was on Dec 1 vs Loyola Marymount. USC has won its games by an average of almost 20 points per game, scoring 73.5. The margin of victory is somewhat inflated by their opening 98-47 win against Montana State, but they haven't had a win by less than 10 points yet. But most of their opponents so far have losing records (7-2 Loyola Marymount is the exception), so A&M should be their toughest test so far… if the Ags can fix what needs fixing.