The Women’s Bouncy Ball team got back to .500 in the SEC with a pair of wins before classes start.
After starting SEC play 0-2, Coach Blair talked about the importance of telling the team that there was still a long way to go. He pointed to the 2007-8 team that started Big 12 play 0-2 and was 1-4 in conference before getting hot, losing only one more time in conference. As Aggie Women’s Basketball fans know, that was the team that won the B12 tourney. The 2007-8 team got to the Elite 8, where they fell in an epic game to the eventual National Champions, a Tennessee Lady Vols team that featured All-time great Candace Parker. There are some obvious differences: the 07-08 team was full of juniors and senior stars. But the point is that it was way too early to panic.
The road back started in Nashville against a Vanderbilt team that’s been struggling all season. Already picked in the bottom group of the SEC, Vandy had lost one of their best players, guard Chelsie Hall, to injury. BC transfer post Mariella Fasoula has stepped up as the team leader and best player.
A&M got off to a fast start, helped by getting Fasoula into early foul trouble. It was 17-7 after the first quarter, but the game was a series of alternating bursts and scoring droughts by both teams. After Carter found N’dea Jones for a layup at the 7:59 mark, A&M got stuck on 19 points until there was just 2:17 left in the half. That allowed the ‘Dores to cut the halftime lead to 22-18.
The Ags would come out strong in the 3rd and build a 35-22 lead halfway through the period. But then A&M didn’t handle the box and one defense Vandy HC Stephanie White used to neutralize Carter, and the Commodores closed the gap to 35-32 going into the final 10 minutes.
Vandy would cut it to 1 early in the quarter. A&M would get the lead back up to 6 by halfway through the quarter, but each time the ‘Dores would bring it back to 2. Fasoula would foul Carter with 1:02 remaining for her 5th and that was pretty much the end of Vandy’s hopes for a comeback. After going 2-9 in the first half, Carter would score 20 in the second half (11 in the 4th quarter) on 8-14 shooting.
Final score: Ags 50 Commodores 43
The Crimson Tide came into Reed Arena less than 24 hours after the Aggie Men pulled off the shocker in Tuscaloosa. The two teams were both 1-2 in SEC play with a win against a team picked for the SEC cellar (Vandy for us, Florida for them), and a loss to South Carolina. Bama was on a 2 game losing streak after losing to Auburn while we had just broken ours. The two teams each had a Cier(r)a Johnson, where theirs has the extra r.
The rough week for Tide fans continued as A&M dominated from the start. Bama scored first on a second chance bucket by Cierra Johnson 92 seconds after the tip. They wouldn’t score again until 1:36 was left in the first quarter by which time the Ags led 15-6. At halftime the lead was 31-17. What was striking was that A&M built this lead with Carter having just 5 points on 1-10 shooting plus going 3-4 from the FT line.
It didn’t get better for the visitors in the second half. Bama did increase its offensive output to 14 points but gave up 22, without Carter scoring a single point in the period. Chennedy went to the bench with 4 minutes left in the quarter and the Aggie lead cut to 10 at 40-30. The team increased the lead with their star out, holding the Tide to just 1 FT made over 4 minutes, and the quarter ended with A&M up 53-31.
Coach Blair started the 4th with a strange lineup of two starters: Johnson and Carter, along with Cheah Rael-Whitsett, Jasmine Williams, and Aahliyah Jackson. Assistant Coach Amy Wright would talk afterward about how Williams, Jackson, and Jada Walton are all competing to be the first guard off the bench in the absence of Aaliyah Wilson, who was seen on crutches on the bench and going across the court to interact with someone. Williams is a fan favorite for her energy and enthusiasm - she’s the one who screams in the team intro and does the little dance moves with each starter as they’re introduced. So the crowd went wild when the 5-10 Jr blocked a shot by 6-3 Jasmine Walker.
By the end, everyone played.
Final score: Ags 70, Tide 43.
- The leading scorers for the two teams were Ciera Johnson with 18 and Cierra Johnson with 8. The Johnsons also led their respective teams in rebounding with 11 (tied) and 6.
- Ciera Johnson’s 18 points and 11 boards were good for her 5th double-double of the season.
- Shambria Washington had an A&M career high 14 points. She added 3 assists against only 1 turnover and had 3 steals.
- Georgia Bulldogs
- Sunday January
- Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, GA
- TV: ESPN2 Radio: 1620AM note the different than usual radio, presumably due to NFL playoffs.
The Ags get a midweek bye while the Lady Dawgs travel to Mizzou. Georgia is 12-5 overall and 3-1 in SEC play with their lone conference loss coming at #7 Mississippi State. On Sunday they overcame a 17 point first half deficit (12 at halftime) to beat #13 Tennessee. This has sent the usual “Fire Holly Warlick” furor among Lady Vols fans into overdrive, as it’s the first time in 33 years that the Tennessee women have lost 3 in a row. The previous two teams to beat Tennessee lost on Sunday in surprising upsets: Kentucky fell to Ole Miss, while Mizzou lost to Florida. That gave the Rebel Sharks or whatever they are and the Gators their first SEC wins.
- #4 6-3 Sr F Caliya Robinson leads the team in rebounding at 8 per game and is the second leading scorer by a tiny margin at 13 ppg. She’s extremely athletic and a shot blocker. She blocked two of Tennessee’s shot attempts in the late possession that could have pulled out the win on Sunday and she averages 2/game. This could be a problem for the Ags.
- #2 5-6 So G Gabby Connally is the leading scorer at 13.3 ppg. She’s lightning quick and killed the Ags in Reed last year.
- #0 5-8 RS Jr G Taja Cole averages 10.9 ppg
- #3 6-1 Jr F Stephanie Paul averages 7.7 ppg
- #1 5-11 Fr G Donnetta Johnson started vs Tennessee but hasn’t played much before that.
6-6 RS So C Jenna Staiti, a Maryland transfer, was on the floor in crunch time vs the Lady Vols.