The Ags arrived in Oxford to finish the regular season on Senior Day for the Rebels. Ole Miss Coach Matt Insell was playing the last game on his home court with his first group of recruits (unless they get a WNIT bid and get to host).
The two teams came out pretty fast for the first few minutes. The Ags looked like they were going to assert control at 7-6, having weathered a couple of early deep 3 pointers from Shequila Joseph. But then the Ags seemed to fall apart. 6 turnovers in the first quarter allowed Ole Miss to outscore A&M 13-2 after the first two minutes. Worse, Khaalia picked up two fouls in the first quarter. Freshman center Shelby Gibson was a force underneath.
19-9 Rebels after 1
Ole Miss has had problems in the second quarter all year, and A&M was able to get back into the game by holding the Rebels to just 4 points for the period. But more turnovers and shot selection meant that A&M was only able to score 11.
23-20 at halftime
Neither team shot well in the first half. The Ags were 8-24 (33.3%) while Ole Miss was 9-28 (32.1%). The Rebels outrebounded the Ags 21-17 and both teams had 9 turnovers.
A&M has come back from a variety of deficits all year, and the Ags started the third quarter strong. The Ags erased the lead and opened a 5 point margin while holding the Rebels scoreless for the first 4:45 of the second half. Ole Miss rallied and the teams traded the lead through the middle of the quarter.
Although it was still close, the Ags were still looking out of sorts and were wearing down. The Ags had several unforced turnovers in that stretch that led to possessions where there wasn’t even a shot attempt.After Anriel tied it at 32 with 1:37 left, Ole Miss scored the last 5 points of the quarter. Turnovers and offensive rebounds reflected fatigue taking its toll. Khaalia was called for an illegal pick with 58 seconds left, and then a Cooper turnover turned into a fast break for Bretta Hart.
Ole Miss 37, Ags 32 after 3.
The Ags would cut it to 3 twice early in the final period. But after Khaalia was called for her 4th foul, the Ags fell apart. Turnovers allowed Ole Miss to to open up a big lead. Walnatia wasn’t able to provide offense with Hillsman on the bench, and what Khaalia returned, she fouled out with over 4 minutes to go. It was ugly. Even before Khaalia fouled out, there was a point where Danni missed a pair of FTs in a way that looked like she was gassed.
Final score Ole Miss 62, Texas A&M 49.
It was pretty obvious that the Ole Miss game plan was based on how S. Carolina’s press had frustrated the Ags on Thursday night. Coach Insell confirmed that in his post-game and talked about how their plan was to get to the Ags legs and wear them down. A&M has been able to get a second wind most of the season, but it seemed like the team was suffering from a S. Carolina hangover from the start.
- Anriel Howard led the Ags in scoring with 14 and rebounding with 9. Khaalia scored 10. Danni was held to just 6 points on 3-13 shooting. Curtyce had 8 on 4-14 shooting. Given the season-low scoring output of 49 points (previous low was 53 vs SMU), it’s kind of impressive that Tyce still got 7 assists. But she had 8 of the 24 turnovers committed by the Ags in Oxford.
- After trailing in rebounding in the first half, the Ags won the boards in the second half 19-10. Unfortunately that partly reflected possessions where there was never a shot to rebound. Ole Miss shooting 60% in the second half also limited their offensive boards.
- Ole Miss was led by Shandricka Sessom with 13. Shequila Joseph and Taylor Manuel were also in double figures. Ole Miss was 8-16 from behind the arc. For the season they were only making 5.7 per game and shooting 31.3% from 3.
- The loss meant that Coach Blair’s string of consecutive seasons winning 10 or more regular season conference games was broken. That went back to the 2005-6 season, which was the first time he took A&M to the NCAAs.
- The win meant that Matt Insell has never lost at Ole Miss on Senior Day.
Up next: SEC Tourney
Going into Sunday, the Ags were already set to be either the 5 or 6 seed in the SEC tournament. Most of the games were done by the time the Ags and Rebels started playing, Tennessee and Miss. State tipped at the same time. As the Ags were losing, Tennessee was in the process of blowing out Vic’s Bulldogs in Starkville. That means we get the 6 seed. This may be a bit of a blessing, given how the bracket is set up.
As the 6 seed, we’re on the Miss State side of the bracket. But right now getting a third game vs Vic by getting through Mizzou is probably not as important as getting every possible minute of rest before playing on Thursday. The Ags will face the winner of Arkansas and Florida, who play on Wednesday. Our game will be the last one of the day on Thursday, while the Lady Vols get the Vandy-Bama winner in the midafternoon.
If A&M survives a Thursday upset, it does mean short rest vs Mizzou, who are one of the hottest teams in the SEC right now.