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WBB: A Senior Day to celebrate

Everything clicks in a dominating win over #11 Mizzou

Senior Day 2018 for Aggie WBB
Senior Day pregame ceremonies. Coach Bond wore the colors for Whitney Young HS.
jimhu’s iPhone

It was Senior Day for the Women’s Bouncy Ball Team at Reed Arena as the #11 Missouri Tigers came to Texas for the final regular season game of 2017-18. The seniors, Lulu McKinney (technically a grad student), Jasmine Lumpkin, and Khaalia Hillsman were honored with a ceremony before the game as their teammates off to the side got teary with emotions. But then it was down to business.

Mizzou had a chance to clinch the last double bye in the SEC tourney, while the Ags needed to win and for LSU to lose to Bama. Both teams came out with high energy and the game felt like a NCAA tourney game. A huge turnout by the Corps filled the student section. Chennedy Carter looked extra psyched to me as the teams broke the pregame huddle. Good defense was matched against better offense at the start and the teams were deadlocked at 9, 11, 16, and 18 in the first quarter. Danni Williams opened the scoring with a 3 pointer and was on fire early. She would go 4-5 from the field in the opening period. Mizzou went inside to Jordan Frericks and Cierra Porter early and Sophie Cunningham added an early 3 pointer. A late 3 pointer by Carter would give A&M a 21-18 lead going into the second period.

The second quarter was perhaps the best quarter of matchup zone D from the Ags I’ve seen this season. Sure, we held other teams to single digit quarters, but not teams of the caliber of Mizzou. Our seats are across from the A&M bench, so we got a good look at how well the team was communicating, especially in always keeping track of where Sophie Cunningham was. The adjustment also provided more resistance to the inside game for Mizzou, so the Tigers took more 3 pointers in the second period, going 1-7 from beyond the arc. A&M was deflecting passes and got 7 turnovers in the second as well. Mizzou didn’t score until Cunningham hit a 3 pointer with 6:33 left in the second, and then got stuck on 21 until Frericks tipped in a miss with 1:14 left. The Ags were fortunate a couple of times when Tigers missed bunnies or fumbled a pass in the lane. But overall it was just a dominant defensive performance.

Meanwhile the A&M offense was still going strong. Mizzou was focusing on taking away Hillsman, and they kept her mostly off the scoreboard. But the turnovers led to 3 fast breaks and the guards continued to punish the zone. After focusing on getting her teammates involved in the first quarter, Carter took over the second. Carter would score 10 in the second quarter. Danni stayed hot and added 6 to her totals. And Danni made a very heady play late in the quarter while running a fast break off a Carter steal. Instead of taking the easiest shot, she baited Cunningham into committing her second foul. The Ags outscored Mizzou 22-7 in the quarter. When the half ended the score was Ags 43 Mizzou 25.

The crowd was happily stunned. An 18 point lead on the #11 team in the country… with Khaalia Hillsman only getting 2 points was not what any of us expected.

I expected Mizzou to come out fighting in the third quarter, and they did. Mizzou scored on their first 3 possessions, all involving getting second chances off of offensive rebounds. But despite going to a full court press, they weren’t getting enough stops and were only able to cut the lead to 15 at 47-32 with 7:43 left in the 3rd. After that the Ags reasserted the D and the Tigers were stuck on 32 until Frericks got a layup with 4:04 left in the quarter. That cut a 25 point lead to 23. The Ags would get it up to a 26 point margin before some late baskets by Mizzou made it 63-42 going into the final period.

Ags on D vs Mizzou 2018
Jordan Frericks tries a midrange J vs the Aggie D

After watching the men on Saturday, the fans knew better than to put this in the win column. And Cunningham got loose in the 4th to help cut into the lead. But it never got closer than 16 and when Sophie fouled out with 3:41 left and the lead at 73-56, the last hope for a Mizzou comeback was gone. Both coaches went to their benches; Blair manipulating subs to give each of the seniors an individual ovation.

Final Score Ags 82 Tigers 63.

We stuck around for the War Hymn as the team went into the stands to saw em off with the Corps. Recently the radio postgame has been played inside Reed. I’m glad they started doing that; a lot of us had gotten in the habit of racing to our cars to hear the postgame interviews instead of staying to celebrate wins back when Vic was here.

  • Chennedy Carter led the Ags with 23 points. She had 3 assists, 2 turnovers 4 steals and a blocked shot. She was 8-15 from the field; 2-2 from 3. Carter was 5-5 from the FT line.
  • Danni WIlliams had 20 points on 7-9 shooting; 2-3 from 3. She was 4-4 from the FT line.
  • Anriel Howard had another double double: 16 points and 10 rebounds. She got the last rebound in the 4th quarter playing with 4 fouls. In the middle of the second half, she became the all-time career rebounding leader for Aggie WBB, breaking Prissy Sharpe’s record of 920. She’s at 923 now, and she’s a junior. Howard already has the career double-double record. She tied Peggy Pope’s single season record of 360, which has stood since 1978-9.
  • Khaalia Hillsman had 11 points; Jasmine Lumpkin had 9.
  • Mizzou was led by Cunningham with 19 points. Frericks (12) and Porter (11) were also in double figures.
  • Mizzou won the rebounding battle 34-30, but as Blair said in the postgame, that was partly because the Ags shot 55.6% for the game, which meant A&M had 23 defensive boards while only getting 7 offensive rebounds. Mizzou’s total broke out as 15-19.
  • The Seniors had not won on Senior Day before Sunday. 2017: Lost to MSU. 2016: Lost to Kentucky. 2015: Lost to Mizzou (Jordan Jones’ knee injury). The Ags did win on senior day 2014 vs Arkansas (J. Jones’ triple double).

Up Next: SEC Tourney in Nashville

The rest of the SEC was jockeying for seeds in the upcoming tournament on Sunday afternoon. The win gave A&M and Missouri in a tie at 11-5 with the Ags holding the head to head tiebreaker. Before the Ags and Tigers tipped off, Georgia had clinched the 3 seed. S Carolina-Tennessee and Bama-LSU were in progress during our game. A’ja Wilson didn’t travel to Knoxville, contributing to the Lady Vols getting a 65-46 win. So whether we would get a 4 or a 5 would depend on Bama and LSU. LSU is better at home, but for the second game in a row, Bama had a good chance for an upset but couldn’t quite finish. Facing a 16 point deficit at the start of the 4th quarter, the Tide came all the way back and had a 2 point lead when Hannah Cook hit a contested mid range jumper with 3.5 seconds to go in regulation. Timeout LSU to advance the ball. Bama committed a foul with 1.9 seconds to go but they had a foul to give. But Bama didn’t contest the inbounds pass and let Ayana Mitchell post up and take the inbounds pass from the sideline. Mitchell hit a layup with 0.3 seconds remaining to send the game into OT. The Bama defender seemed determined not to foul, which is odd because 1) they had a foul to give and 2) Mitchell isn’t a great FT shooter. The OT was close most of the way, but FT shooting bit Bama again as a miss in the middle of OT meant that trading buckets left the Tide down a point. Bama still had a good chance at the win down 1 with the ball and 25 seconds left. They went miss, offensive board, miss, offensive board, miss, offensive board, timeout. 9.4 seconds left. Mitchell blocked a shot in the lane to give LSU the 79-78 win and the 4 seed.

Final standings:

  1. Miss State
  2. S. Carolina
  3. Georgia
  4. LSU
  5. Ags
  6. Mizzou
  7. Lady Vols
  8. Bama
  9. Kentucky
  10. Auburn
  11. Florida
  12. Vandy
  13. Arkansas
  14. Ole MIss

The SEC tourney starts Wednesday in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville with Arkansas and Vandy playing at 11AM, followed by Ole Miss Florida. We get the winner of Arkansas-Vandy on Thursday at around 2:30 CST. LSU awaits the winner of that game.