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WBB: Ags roll the Tide 69-48

The Women’s Bouncy Ball hammered Bama on Thursday night in the BTHO Breast Cancer game.

BTHO breast cancer 2017
Breast cancer survivors were honored at halftime
jimhu’s iPhone

First half

This game was under control early, so I won’t bother to break things down by quarter. The Ags wore their hot pink uniforms while Bama came out in white with pink trim. The A&M uniforms had players’ nicknames instead of their last names, so the starting lineup for A&M was

  • Big Homie (Khaalia Hillsman)
  • Lashes (Anriel Howard)
  • Coop (Taylor Cooper)
  • Sweet Pea (Danni WIlliams)
  • Tyce (Curtyce Knox)

Sweet Pea was sweet to start the game, scoring the first 7 points for the Ags. With the score 7-2 something happened that caused Khaalia to limp off the court. Walnatia “B’-Naj” (I think that’s what it said) came in. Walnatia stretched the lead to 9-2, but Bama rallied to tie the game at 11-11 with 2:53 to go in the first. From there on it was all A&M. The Ags went on a 9-0 run to end the first quarter and continued dominating in the second quarter. Jasmine “Muscles” Williams got significant playing time in the second quarter.

Halftime score 34-20 A&M

Danni had 12 points on 5-8 shooting and 2 3 pointers. Khaalia had 8 points despite sitting out 4 minutes in the first quarter. Khaalia seemed to have problems with the special pink shoes; when she returned to the court she had white shoes on. The Ags out rebounded Bama 18-13 and held the Tide to 8-27 shooting.

Halftime of the BTHO Breast Cancer game started with a laser projection show on the floor; the picture for this post is from that. After that, cancer survivors were honored. When that was over, my wife and I decided to go to the concessions for a carcinogenic Aggie dog.

Second half

The Ags outscored Bama 18-11 in the third quarter, getting the lead to 24 at one point. By the end of the third, most of the roster had played. Coach Blair used Danni at point with Tyce on the bench for the last 5+ minutes. Alyssa “Commander” Michalke was the last eligible player to get on the court with 1:47 remaining. Even with the subs, Bama couldn’t gain any ground.

Overall

In February the favored team is supposed to win - Gary Blair in the postgame

  • Danni and Khaalia tied for the scoring lead with 19 points. Anriel was a couple of missed FTs from overtaking them. She finished with another double-double: 18 points and 10 rebounds. I thought Blair left Lashes in at the end with 4 fouls to get the last two boards needed for the double-double.
  • Curtyce had a quiet night scoring (2-8 for 4 points), but had 12 assists and just one turnover.
  • It was nice to see the bench play. Blair talked afterward about all of the freshmen being nervous entering the game. None of them scored or grabbed a rebound. I thought of the 3, Jasmine Williams had a bit of an edge. She had an assist and a steal along with 3 turnovers, and there was one point where she pulled the ball back instead of attacking against unfavorable odds that showed growth in her game.
  • Jasmine WIlliams and video coordinator Kristen Grant both lost mothers to cancer. Curtyce’s mom is a cancer survivor as is Coach Starkey’s wife.
  • The Ags clinched a first round bye in the SEC tournament

A couple of loose ends from earlier in the week:

During last Super Bowl Sunday’s game against Auburn, Aggie Women’s Bouncy Ball released their entry in ESPN’s #handclaphoopla challenge:

On Monday, Curtyce Knox was named a top 10 finalist for the Nancy Lieberman award, which goes to the top PG in the NCAA.

Up next

  • Tennessee Lady Vols
  • Sunday Feb 12, 2017 7PM CST
  • Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville TN
  • TV: ESPNU, Radio: 1150 AM/102.7 FM

Sunday’s game is the beginning of what is a brutal home stretch on the schedule.

For their fans, Tennessee has to be the most maddeningly inconsistent team in the SEC this season. The #24 Lady Vols 16-8 record includes wins against #8 Stanford, #7 Notre Dame, and #6 S. Carolina (current rankings), and losses to Ole Miss, Auburn, and Georgia. They’re 11-2 at home where they average just under 9,000 fans. Their roster is full of highly ranked players. Likely starters:

  • #21 6-6 RS Jr C Mercedes Russell (16.7 ppg/9.3 rpg/1.7 blocks/g) was the top recruit in the nation in 2013. She’s on the Naismith watch list and is likely to be All-SEC second team at worst.
  • #11 6-1 RS Jr G Diamond DeShields (18.5 ppg/6.8 rpg) was the #3 recruit in 2013 at N. Carolina, where she led the Tar Heels to the Elite 8 before transferring along with most of N. Carolina’s team from that season. DeShields is an incredibly talented and athletic player and she’s been on a hot streak in recent games.
  • #31 6-2 Jr G/F Jaime Nared (15.8 ppg/6.7 rpg) was the #6 recruit in 2014 and the #1 wing.
  • #00 5-11 Sr G Jordan Reynolds (6.9 ppg/4.3 asst/g) was the #42 recruit in 2013.
  • #33 5-9 Jr G Alexa Middleton (7.5 ppg) was the #28 recruit in 2014.

Tennessee has ESPN top 100 players coming off the bench. On paper, this should be a very difficult matchup for A&M. Tennessee’s players are not just higher in ranking from high school; they’re also bigger and athletic enough to defend the Ags differently than other opponents. Coach Blair expects more man D from the Vols than we’ve seen of late. On the offensive end, the Lady Vols have been had trouble with teams that force turnovers: Auburn, Miss State, and Ole Miss are all pressure defenses. While that is what Gary Blair built the program on, lack of depth has limited our ability to play pressure D.

But between the Vols inconsistency and how this Aggie WBB team has exceeded expectation, anything could happen Sunday in Knoxville.