I wasn’t sure how turnout would be with people preparing for their Super Bowl parties, but seeing the Corps at both ends of the court gave me confidence that the crowd would be loud enough at Reed for the 1PM tipoff.
Coach Blair went with Taylor Cooper in the starting lineup again, joining Hillsman, Howard, Williams, and Knox. Coach Flo countered with the expected lineup of Frerking, Montgomery McKay and the Jones twins. Auburn’s full court zone press tries to trap as the ball crosses midcourt, and falls back into a 2-3 zone. At the start of the opening quarter, it looked like the Ags were ready, as A&M took a quick 5-0 lead on a 3 pointer by Taylor and a jump shot by Anriel. The Cooper basket came on a sequence where the Ags got two offensive rebounds on the same possession.
Coach Flo called a quick timeout to make adjustments. The Ags turned it over on their next two possessions. The Auburn D got steadily tougher as the first quarter continued. Neither team could hit anything. A&M turned it over 7 times in the quarter and were settling for jump shots. Still, it looked like the Ags were in good shape when 3 pointers by Cooper and Knox gave A&M a decent lead.
Ags 15 Tigers 7 after 1.
A 3 pointer by Danni gave the Ags a 9 point lead with 8:09 to go in the half, but then Katie Frerking started to heat up for Auburn. Frerking would score 14 points in the quarter (12 after Danni’s 3). Auburn had cut the lead to 1 on a layup off a turnover by the 6:16 mark. Khaalia got it back to 3, but then a pair of layups by Jessica Jones gave the Tigers the lead. The Ags would retake the lead but a 3 pointer by Emari Jones tied the game at 28 with 1:24 remaining in the first half. It was still tied when Coach Blair called a timeout with 22 seconds left to set up the last shot. But instead of going into the locker room tied or ahead, the ball was tapped away from Curtyce as she tried to drive the right side (one could argue she was fouled twice before the turnover), leading to a 4 on 1 break and a buzzer beating layup for Frerking. Coach Blair stayed on the floor to work the refs before heading to the locker room.
Auburn 30, A&M 28 at halftime.
Frerking led all scorers with 16 points at half. Danni had 8 for the Ags. A&M turned it over 12 times before the break. A lot of these came from the way Auburn was fronting Khaalia and switching the assignment. One defender would leave Khaalia apparently open, fooling an Ag into feeding the post while a second defender stepped into the passing lane. Coach Blair would say later that the Ags were settling for jump shots and not being patient, but the press affected how much time each possession could take on the shot clock. The Ags dominance on the glass (29-14) compensated for tough shooting and turnovers.
A turnover let the Ags retake the lead on a 3 point play to Khaalia right away to start the second half, and the two teams traded the lead through the third quarter. The Ags came out more aggressive and the refs were suddenly calling a lot of close fouls on Auburn early in the quarter. The Ags got into the bonus by the 6:30 mark. But Auburn kept finding baskets. At the 4:36 media timeout, Coach Blair spent the entire time one on one with Curtyce coaching her up about focusing on the next play and not expressing frustration with the refs or her teammates. Auburn went up by 5 after Frerking blocked Curtyce’s shot. A teammate tapped the ball to Frerking for a fast break layup. But the Ags fought back to tie it at 42 with 2:27 left in the third.
It looked like the Ags would take the lead when a steal by Anriel got the ball. Danni missed a 3 pointer from the left corner but was fouled going after her own rebound as it bounced to the top of the key. But Danni missed 2 FTs. Then Taylor jumped a passing lane in the middle and ran out on a fast break... but missed the layup. Coach Blair would say later that those two plays made him think that maybe it just wasn’t the Ags day.
Brandy Montgomery gave Auburn a 3 point lead with a trey. A Frerking jumper canceled out 2 FTs by Cooper and the Ags got possession with 17 seconds left. The ball was deflected out with 2.2 seconds to go and Curtyce took the ball out in front of A&M’s bench. Tyce found Danni on the right side of the arc. Danni had time to fake, take one dribble, and hit a buzzer beating 3 to tie the game.
47-47 after 3 quarters.
Montgomery opened the final period with a 3 from the left quarter. The Ags retook the lead on a long 2 by Danni. The Ags had switched to a man defense from a 3-2 zone. Both teams struggled to score for several possessions. Another 3 pointer by Danni made it a 4 point lead. A layup by Khaalia after a Frerking FT made it a 5 point lead with 2:38 to go.
Auburn would cut it to 56-55 but Danni made it a 3 point lead with a turnaround jumper with 1:35 remaining off an inbounds play. After Janiah McKay missed a shot, Curtyce was fouled with 51.8 seconds to go. As Taylor took the ball out in front of the A&M bench and Curtyce and Anriel backed into the back court, I suspected Coach Blair and Amy Wright had called the same play that iced the LSU game. Sure enough, Khaalia set a pick for Danni and rolled to the basket. Auburn didn’t fall for it as badly as LSU, but Khaalia drew a foul and her 2 FTs made it a 5 point lead.
Blair was putting in Cooper for offense and Lumpkin for D. As Auburn used a timeout to advance the ball to the front court, Lumpkin was on Frerking and everyone in Reed expected the play would be for the 6-1 forward. Frerking got the ball at the top of the key, faked and went up for a 3 pointer. Jasmine ran past Frerking on the fake, recovered and jumped to block the shot with her right hand, getting all ball and slamming the ball off the floor. She then recovered the loose ball. The team rushed to congratulate her after Auburn had to foul Danni. That play was the ball game. Auburn would score again, but Danni and Taylor made their FTs to hold them off.
FInal score: Ags 66, Tigers 61
- Danni led the Ags with 25 points. In the postgame with the SEC Network, Coach Blair said he wants Danni to shoot whenever she’s open and that where the coaches are focusing with her is on improving her passing. Khaalia had yet another double-double (17 pts/15 rebounds). Taylor was 2-6 from behind the arc and 4-4 for FTs for 10 points. Anriel had 10 rebounds to make it 17 games this season with 10+ boards. Curtyce had 7 points, 6 assists, and 7 turnovers.
- Frerking led Auburn with a career high 32 points and also led the Tigers in rebounding.
- Lumpkin only played 15 minutes and didn’t score, but her block was huge... and it came on her birthday.
- A&M has never lost to Auburn in WBB.
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Thursday Feb 9, 2017 7PM CST
- Reed Arena
- Streaming SECN+ Radio 1150 AM/102.7 FM
Thursday’s game is the BTHO Breast Cancer game.
Bama lost at LSU on Sunday to fall to 3-7 in SEC play (15-8 overall). The Tide have beaten Ole Miss twice and Mizzou on the road, while losing to S. Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas, Miss State, Vandy, Auburn, and LSU. That means they are Vandy’s only win and are the only SEC team other than Vandy that’s lost to Arkansas. Bama has 3 unrelated girls named Knight and 2 Ashleys. Likely starters:
- #11 6-0 Jr G Hannah Cook (11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
- #15 5-8 Jr G Meoshonti Knight (9.8 ppg)
- #23 6-0 So F Shaquera Wade (9.1 ppg)
- #03 5-7 Fr G Jordan Lewis (8.7 ppg, 3.6 apg)
- #25 6-5 Fr F Ashley Knight (5.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
Against LSU, Bama only scored 41; 22 of those came from Lewis and A. Knight.