Legacy Day for the Women’s Bouncy Ball team was last week vs Georgia, but a bunch of former players came back for Monday night’s game. Danielle Gant, Achiri Ade, Courtney Williams, and Tanisha Smith were in the crowd as the Ags took on LSU. I’m guessing that Gant must enjoy watching Anriel Howard play - going into this season Gant shared the career double-double record with Kelsey Bone with 19. Lashes has already blown by that number as a junior and her relentless rebounding as an undersized 4 is reminiscent of Gant.
LSU tweaked their starting lineup out of concern for the inside game of Khaalia Hillsman. The plan seemed to be physical with Hillsman and figure that even if a significant fraction of the contact was called, they had 3-4 players worth of fouls to use up. 6-5 RS Fr Faustine Aifuwa got just her 5th start and was subbed out by Coach Nikki Fargas when she fouled Hillsman just 1:13 into the game. She was replaced by 6-6 So Yasmine Bidikuindila, who fouled Hillsman at the 6:05 mark. Bidikuindila was replaced by 6-4 Fr Raven Farley. Farley got to stay in the game after fouling Howard but was replaced by Aifuwa before the end of the first quarter. Later, Coach Blair would say that if the Ags had stuck to the game plan, we could have fouled out most of their team. A&M was able to build a 9 point lead in the middle of the quarter, which was an offense to the concept of offense in basketball. Both teams shot terribly and the quarter ended with our girls up by a score of 13-8. Although the coaches had emphasized in the game prep that LSU loves turnovers, the Ags turned it over 6 times in the first quarter.
LSU would come back in the second quarter as A&M got impatient against the 2-3 zone and turned it over another 5 times while missing lots of midrange jumpers. LSU’s guards got hot and there were times when Raigyne Louis (nee Moncrief) just rose and shot over the shorter Carter. Still, a hot scoring quarter for LSU was only 18 points. With the Ags only getting 10 in the period, the net result was a 26-23 lead for the Bayou Kittens. The second quarter was still very physical, and the crowd was getting on the crew of Brian Enterline, Denise Brooks, and Sue Blauch for uncalled contact. Hillsman was also getting frustrated and got an unsportsmanlike technical for knocking down an LSU player. As the half ended, I noticed that Coach Blair stayed behind to work the refs while the team went to the locker room. Later, we would learn that a second tech had been called on Associate Head Coach Kelly Bond-White for using some magic words while complaining about a non-call at the buzzer.
A&M was only down 3 despite 11 turnovers and zero points from any of the guards. Chennedy Carter was 0-5 with 1 assist and 5 turnovers. Danni Williams was -0-2 with 3 turnovers. Lulu McKinney came in for 6 minutes in the first half when Carter got in foul trouble and went 0-1 with 1 assist and 2 turnovers. But Anriel Howard was doing her Danielle Gant impression by hitting mid range jumpers from the FT line and getting putbacks off the offensive glass. She almost had a double double by halftime. LSU was a mirror image: most of their production was from guards. Carter just looked off. She was losing her balance on her drives and dribbling the ball off of her body. She had some turnovers attempting cross court passes with a windup motion that was an obvious telegraphed INT before it left her hands. Coach Starkey in the post-game confirmed the speculation from the Bama TV crew in last Thursday’s game that Carter has been fighting off an illness.
The team would say later that they had an unusually succinct but tough halftime talking to.
LSU’s Chloe Jackson went 1-3 the technical free throws to start the second half and then we waited for what seemed like an eternity for the clock operators to reset the shot and game clocks to zero elapsed time. Why is that so hard? There are phone apps that work better than NCAA clocks.
As the third quarter got underway, it seemed like the refs were calling more of the contact in the paint, which made it look like it was a smart technical to take by Coach Bond. The Ags took better care of the ball and got it inside, taking advantage of the more stringent officiating to get to the FT line 13 times in the 3rd quarter. A pair of FTs by Carter, who was still struggling from the field, gave A&M the lead in the middle of the quarter. A pair of fouls on Raigyne Louis also meant she had to spend some time on the bench. A&M would outscore LSU 23-15 in the third.
With the Ags up 5 going into the final period, Fargas put Louis back in with 3 fouls. But the Senior leader had to leave again less than 30 seconds later after she fouled Anriel. The Ags kept LSU at bay for most of the fourth quarter. Carter would get her first FG of the game right after Jasmine Lumpkin had to go to the bench with her 4th foul with 6:45 remaining. Danni Williams picked off the inbounds pass from Raigyne Moncrief from the baseline toward the sideline by the LSU bench. Danni turned in midair to pass the ball back to Anriel, who hit a streaking Carter for a layup. That gave the Ags a 10 point lead. A couple of possessions later, the Ags were late in the shot clock and surprisingly fed the ball on the right baseline to Kayla Wells, who made a spectacular spin move for a basket in the lane while drawing a foul on Aifuwa, just beating the shot clock. Wells would be replaced by Lumpkin after making the FT - Starkey told her as she left the court that she did nothing wrong when she was pulled.
The Ags were up 63-57 with 2:44 remaining when Hillsman got Aifuwa to foul out. LSU went small and had a good look but couldn’t convert. Carter ran the clock down and then drove the right side to get fouled. A pair of FTs kept her double figures scoring streak alive. A late turnover by Carter gave Louis a chance to cut it to 5, but she missed the layup. LSU chose not to foul with a minute to go and Howard hit a mid range shot to make it a 10 point lead again. LSU conceded the final possession after a last miss rebounded by Lumpkin and the Ags ran out the clock after a timeout to advance the inbounds pass to the front court.
Final score: Ags win 69-59
- Four Ags scored in double figures, led by Anriel Howard’s 21 points to go with 14 rebounds. Lashes was 7-9 from the field and 7-9 from the FT line.
- The other player of the game was Jasmine Lumpkin, who had 8 assists to go with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
- The only starter to fall short of double digits was Danni Williams but she was an efficient 4-9 (4-7 in the second half) with 2 steals and 4 rebounds.
- Carter had her worst scoring night of the season, going just 2-13 from the field with 7 turnovers. But Coach Starkey said in the postgame how the staff was proud of how she fought through her off shooting night by playing better D and doing other things. Blair said on Tuesday morning that Carter went back to the gym after game was over to work on improving.
- Going inside - and maybe the Bond technical - led to the Ags having a huge advantage from the FT line. A&M shot 24-32 from the charity stripe compared to 9-13 for LSU. And 4 of those were after the 2 technical fouls. A&M had 25 FT attempts in the second half.
- Raigyne Louis led LSU with 18 points on 9-18 shooting.
- My wife noticed in the scorecard that LSU only has one Louisiana player on their roster: A&M transfer Rakell Spencer, who is sitting out this season.
The win gave the Ags a 16-5 record (5-2 in the SEC). Texas A&M gained another spot in the polls last week and is now #15.
BTHO Bye. then…
- Vanderbilt Commodores
- Sunday Jan 28, 2018 2PM CST
- Memorial Gym, Nashville, TN
- TV: SEC Network Radio 1150 AM/102.7 FM
Last year, as the SEC season started, Coach Blair said he thought Vandy would be the most improved team in the conference under new coach Stephanie White, who had come to the college ranks after coaching the WNBA Indiana Fever for a season. The Ags need a big second half comeback to pull out the win at Reed, but that turned out to not be a sign of good things for the Commodore women. In 2015-16 Melanie Balcomb had coached Vandy to a 18-14 record (5-11 in the SEC). Vandy won 2 games in the SEC tourney before getting bounced by Miss State. Last year, White led Vandy to a 14-16 record (5-11 in the SEC) and lost to Bama in the first round of the SEC tourney. This season, the Dores have a 5-16 record and are 1-6 in SEC play. Their lone SEC win is vs a struggling Kentucky team.
But nothing is a gimme, and the game is in Nashville, where visiting coaches hate playing in the weird layout. It’s especially bad for Coach Blair, who calls plays from the bench. Probable starters are a bit hard to guess, as 5-11 Senior G Rachel Bell, who started 20 games to start the season and is second in scoring, went out of the S Carolina game after 6 minutes and didn’t play vs Bama. It’s not clear when she was hurt or what happened when I went back and watched the first bit of the SC game. She was playing in the zone D before a media timeout and didn’t come back after the commercials.
- #02 5-7 Fr G Chelsea Hall leads the team in scoring at 13 ppg.
- #10 5-8 So G Cierra Walker averages 9 ppg. 95 out of 139 FGA have been from 3.
- #24 6-2 Fr G Autumn Newby is the leading rebounder at 6.7 rpg. She scores 5.7/g and hasn’t attempted a 3 pointer.
- #33 5-11 Sr G Christa Reed is listed as a G but seems to like to post up on offense but can also hit the 3 pointer (27-60). She scores 9 ppg.
- #00 6-1 So F Kayla Overbeck is likely to play the post in the zone D.
Vandy leads the SEC in 3 point FG% at .401 but they’re only 5th in 3 point attempts. They’re giving up more turnovers per game than anyone else in the SEC.