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WBB: Dogs bite Ags 76-55

Miss State clinches the SEC regular season

NCAA Womens Basketball: Women's Final Four-Mississippi State vs Connecticut
Miss State fans have been selling out the Hump for WBB. On Sunday they lined up 4 hours early. Remind me why people think we can get Vic to come back to A&M.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Women’s Bouncy Ball team went to StarkVegas on Sunday with a long shot to upset the undefeated #2 Mississippi State Bulldogs. The combination of stellar play from Vic Schaefer’s team and self-inflicted wounds by the Ags gave the sellout crowd a chance to party with their first SEC regular season crown.

The first bad sign happened before the ball was even tipped off. Regular starters Anriel Howard, Jasmine Lumpkin, and Danni Williams were joined on the court by Kayla Wells and Caylinne Martin. Khaalia Hillsman and Chennedy Carter were on the bench serving a suspension for violation of team rules. With the recent events on the Men’s side, I was actually thankful to hear that it was just for the start and that the violation was for being late for a team event.

We will never know how the game might have started with Hillsman and Carter in from the start. But Victoria Vivians started things off with a 3 pointer, and the Ags had 3 turnovers before even getting off a shot: a Kayla Wells baseline jumper that was blocked. I warned the few readers of WBB posts that Ro Johnson tends to be overlooked by casual fans in the preview. She hit a pair of 3 pointers to make it 11-0 to start the game. Timeout Ags just 3:10 into the contest. Carter and Hillsman in for Wells and Martin. Carter would get the Ags on the scoreboard with 6:12 left in the quarter. The Ags would only score 9 points in the first period. Carter had 4. Anriel had 4. Danni went 1-2 from the FT line. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs put up 24.

The second quarter was the only relative high point for A&M. After MSU got the lead to 17, the Ags (mostly Carter) chipped away at it and got within 6 when Khaalia got her only points of the half with 2:06 remaining. The crowd was getting quieter (at least it sounded that way on TV). But then Vivians went on 5-0 run to get the lead back to double digits. Anriel cut it to 9 with under a minute left, but McCowan answered with 25 seconds left.

Halftime score: MSU 36, Ags 25. Rebounds were even with MSU having 1 more on the offensive glass. Despite 8 turnovers, Miss State only got 5 points off turnovers in the first half. A&M actually shot a slightly higher FG% 42.3 to 41.9. Both teams had gone 3-4 from the FT line. The biggest difference? MSU was 7-11 from 3 point distance while A&M was 0-4. And that was with Blair Schaefer only going 1-2 from distance. But that makes it sound closer than it was. Of A&M’s 25 points, Carter had 16. And 4 of the usual starters went to the locker room with 2 fouls.

The usual starters were in for the opening of the second half. Hillsman scored early, but then the Bulldogs took control again. By halfway through the quarter, Hillsman was on the bench with her 3rd foul. Jaz and Carter were playing with 3 fouls. The already struggling defense got worse as Lumpkin and Carter tried to avoid picking up #4. The MSU lead was 19 by the start of the final period.

The Ags couldn’t do much in the final period. Howard picked up fouls 4 and 5 within a minute of each other in the middle of the period. She was the main scorer other than Carter.

Final score Bulldogs 76 Ags 55

  • Chennedy Carter finished with 31 points. It was her 5th time to break 30 points in a game. She now has 605 points on the season, which puts her 3rd on the all-time single season list. She will almost certainly pass Jaynetta Saunders’ 611 this week. Danielle Adams has the #1 spot at 847 in the 2010-2011 season. The bad news is that she only had 1 assist against 3 turnovers. She was 12-29 from the field, which means she took more than half of the Ags 57 FG attempts. Does this reflect selfish play or the inability of the rest of the team to get open and score? Or both?
  • Anriel Howard got another double double before fouling out: 14 points 10 boards. She had 1 assist and 2 turnovers.
  • The rest of the Ags were MIA. Credit the SecDef’s D for a lot of that, but still:
  • Hillsman 4 points 8 rebounds 2 turnovers.
  • Williams 1 point 0 assists 3 turnovers
  • Lumpkin 3 points 7 rebounds 1 assist 5 turnovers
  • All 5 Miss State starters finished in double figures, led by Vivians with 26.

Again, a lot of credit goes to the Bulldogs. But it might be interesting to see what Coach has to say on Monday.

Big picture

Miss State clinches the SEC regular season title as expected. S. Carolina is 3 games back with 2 to play. LSU and Mizzou are tied for third at 10-4. Georgia, which plays bottom-dweller Ole Miss on Monday is a half game back in fifth. The Ags are in a tie with Tennessee for sixth thanks to Mizzou knocking off the Lady Vols before the A&M-MSU game started.

Because Miss State was heavily favored, I don’t think the loss hurts our NCAA hosting chances too much. But a win would have helped a lot. It does mean the slim chances of a double bye in the SEC tourney are much, much slimmer.

The NCAA will reveal their top 16 as of the weekend on Monday.

Up Next

  • Arkansas Razorbacks
  • Thursday Feb 22, 2018 7PM CST
  • Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville AR
  • No TV. Streaming on SECN+. Radio 1150AM/102.7FM

Arkansas pulled the plug on the ill-advised Jimmy Dykes experiment at the end of last season. The Hogs went out and hired Arkansas alum Mike Neighbors away from his job as HC at the University of Washington, where he coached all-time scoring leader Kelsey Plum. Neighbors and Blair are old friends; Neighbors worked for Blair when GB was HC at Arkansas. Neighbors describes himself as serving as “Gary Blair’s Diet Coke guy”.

The Dykes disaster left the roster thin as several players transferred, including Jordan Danberry, who played for Vic briefly on Sunday off the bench, and Aaliyah Wilson, who is sitting out her transfer redshirt on our bench. This means the Hogs are very young and even the veterans are learning Neighbors system. The rebuilding has meant an overall 12-15 record (3-11 in the SEC). The SEC wins came against Ole Miss, Auburn, and Bama. Last year the Ags dominated the Hogs at Reed. And the leading scorer for the Hogs in that game is now sitting on our bench. But even in rebuilding mode, and after the graduation of their best player, Arkansas is unlikely to be as bad as it was under Dykes.

Probable starters

  • #3 5-5 Jr G Malica Monk had 16 points in 26 minutes at Reed last year. She leads the Ladybacks this year with an average of 16 ppg. She also leads the team in assists.
  • #21 5-10 Gr G Devin Cosper was a JC transfer who came with 3 years of eligibility in 2015. She started last year but only played 15 minutes, scoring 2 points. This season she’s averaging 14.4 ppg
  • #`14 5-9 So PG Jailyn Mason started vs the Ags last year. She had 6 points and 2 assists. This sason she’s averaging 10.7 ppg.
  • #10 6-1 So F/C Kiara WIllams played 20 games last season but missed the Ags. She leads the team in rebounds (7 per game) and blocked shots.
  • #22 6-0 Jr G/F Bailey Zimmerman played 20 minutes at Reed and went 0-6. She’s averaging 4.4 ppg.