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WBB: Defense takes the Ags to the SEC Tourney semifinals

The Women’s Bouncy Ball team shut down Missouri 62-48 in the SEC quarterfinals

NCAA Womens Basketball: Texas A&M at Tennessee
Anriel Howard led the Ags to the semis in the SEC WBB tourney
Saul Young-USA TODAY Sports

The Ags would play their second game in as many days, while #3 seed Missouri came to Greenville rested and on a 5 game win streak.

First quarter

The game tipped off a few minutes earlier than I (and my DVR) expected and Mizzou was already up 3-0 when I turned it on. 3 different Tigers hit 3s early, forcing Coach Blair to use a timeout. The Ags switched to a man to man defense but struggled to score as Missouri sagged off and dared Anriel to score. The Ags had Mizzou stuck on 11 points for a long stretch is the middle of the period, but a late burst got the lead back to 9.

Khaalia didn't get a single shot attempt and got very few touches. But the defense was a sign of things to come. The Ags forced 5 turnovers in the quarter and only a late 3 by Sierra Michaelis maintained the lead.

19-10 Mizzou after 1.

Second quarter

The teams traded baskets to keep the lead at 9 points with 8:26 to go in the half. After Danni and Cooper cut the lead to 5, Blair went small with Anriel, Jaz, Danni, Cooper, and Tyce. The smaller lineup kept the lead around 5-7 points. The margin was still 7 with 1:15 left when steals by Knox and Howard led to consecutive fast break buckets by Anriel.

Overall, A&M outscored Mizzou 14-8 in the quarter. So, despite trailing 5-0 from 3 and getting no FG attempts from Hillsman, and only shooting 33.3% from the field, for the second night in a row A&M went into the break just down 3.

Mizzou 27 Ags 24

Anriel had 11 points at half. Mizzou turned it over 9 times, leading to at least 3 fast breaks for A&M.

Third quarter

A 6-0 A&M run to start the half caused a Mizzou timeout. The great D continued to the media timeout; with 4:20 left in the third, A&M had outscored Mizzou 11-2 in the quarter. From then to the end Mizzou only scored 2 more. After holding Mizzou to 8 points in the second quarter, the D only allowed 4 in the third. Mizzou committed 6 turnovers in the period.

Ags 39 Mizzou 31 after 3

Fourth quarter

The Ags forced a turnover to start the quarter and Sophie C was T’d up for flipping Danni while wrestling for the ball. A 3 by Cooper made it 45-33 with 7:57 left. By the 5:58 media timeout the Ags led 47-37. Sophie and Lindsay Cunningham were both playing with 4 fouls. On the A&M side, Anriel had 4 fouls. As the clock wound down, the Ags continued to play with focus and Khaalia finally got some opportunities as Mizzou wore down and the sisters foul trouble made it harder to help. With Blair reminding the team of how the Tigers came back at the end in Columbia, the Ags never let Mizzou get closer than 8. A&M made FTs down the stretch and got a comfortable win.

Final score: Ags win 62-48

Overall

  • After shooting just 32.3% in the first half, the Ags shot 52.2% in the second. A&M outrebounded Mizzou 15-9 in the second half after losing the boards in the first half 15-17.
  • Anriel Howard led the team in scoring with 19 points. She was 1 rebound shy of a double-double and had 4 steals. Howard moved into a tie for second place for rebounds in a single season, passing Danielle Adams and tying Kelsey Bone with 326. Peggy Pope had 360 in 1978-79.
  • Curtyce Knox had 10 assists, adding to her all-time single season record for A&M. With 290, Tyce is in second place in the all-time SEC record for assists in a season, and needs just 4 more to tie Auburn’s Martha Monk from 1981 (which was before the SEC officially sponsored WBB).
  • Taylor Cooper tied her career high with 16 points. Coach Blair credited her with drawing up a play near the end of the game. Danni WIlliams added 12 points. Knox, Williams and Cooper played 40 minutes in the box score, although Tyce actually came out for less than a minute at the end so Alyssa Michalke could get on the floor.
  • This was the first time all season that Khaalia was held under 10 points.
  • Coach Blair’s postgame interview with the SECN crew is pretty funny.

Up Next

  • SEC WBB Semifinals
  • Mississippi State Bulldogs
  • Sat March 4, 2017, 6:15 PM CST
  • Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, SC
  • TV: ESPNU Radio 1150 AM/102.7 FM

This will be the third meeting for A&M and Miss State, with the Bulldogs overcoming A&M leads in both previous games. Coach Vic’s girls took care of LSU in the third game on Friday. It was closer than the 78-61 final would suggest. LSU had a lead late in the third quarter before MSU took it to another level and outscored the Tigers 41-22 the rest of the way. State was led by PG Morgan William’s 21 points. Star Victoria Vivians was limited to 5, but Ketara Chapel, who averages 3 ppg, scored 10.