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WBB: Ags avoid a trap at Auburn

Carter gets another game-winning late basket

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Spokane Regional
Carter had 28 as the Ags survive a late collapse of missed FTs
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Women’s Bouncy Ball team went to Auburn and escaped on a runner by Chennedy Carter with 4.6 seconds to go. A&M had returned to the top 25 after last weekend’s dominating road win at Georgia but hanging on to #24 and continuing to improve our chances for the Big Dance depended on continuing the winning streak.

Coach Blair had talked about his as being a potential trap game even though both teams came in at 3-2 in SEC play, Auburn was at home, and the Tigers had a slightly better W-L record at 15-3 vs 14-4 for the #24 Ags. Auburn’s problem is that while they’ve had respectable games vs ranked teams, they haven’t won vs Iowa State (now #20), Tennessee (#10 at the time, now unranked), or #7 Mississippi State. Auburn’s strength is in forcing turnovers and A&M has had problems with turnovers. But the Aggie women have never lost to Auburn in 11 games going back to 2007.5.

The Ags and Tigers traded the lead a couple of times in the first half. A&M was having trouble with turnovers, giving it up 6 times in the first quarter and 4 in the second. But a lot of these were traveling calls that were dead ball turnovers allowing the D to set up. That meant that altough Auburn got 9 points off turnovers in the first half, only 2 came off a single fast break. Auburn took the lead in the middle of the first quarter on 3 point shooting. The Ags came back to briefly take the lead in the second before the Tigers opened up a 30-22 halftime advantage. At that point the Ags were being outrebounded 18-16 with only 2 offensive boards and no second chance points.

A&M came out of the locker room determined to crash the boards and go inside. The Ags had a 8-2 run to open the second half, and all 4 FGs came off second chance putback by Johnson and Jones. The Ags would outscore Auburn 24-14 in the third period to take a 47-44 lead into the final period.

The Ags would stretch the lead to 11 several times in the final quarter. A&M was the more aggressive team and got into the bonus early in the quarter. A lot of points were coming from the FT line and with a 63-52 lead with just under 4 minutes to go it seemed like A&M would be able to coast to the win, especially after Kayla Wells was fouled after a Janiah McKay layup had cut the lead back to single digits. Wells, who is just under 80% from the line on the season missed both. Auburn started hitting shots again and the Ags kept missing one or both of their FTs when fouled. With 1:41 remaining, Crystal Primm stole the ball and was fouled by Jones. She made 1 of 2 FTs to tie the game at 65. The Ags were able to get stops but only get a 67-65 lead when Wells and Shambria Washington each made only one of two FTs after being fouled. Auburn ball with 22 seconds left. Timeout to advance the inbounds. Instead of holding for the last shot, Janiah McKay drove the lane to tie it at 67 with 17 seconds left.

That left too much time on the clock for Carter to counter. So this happened:

Before the game, Carter had done a segment with ESPN announcer Debbie Antonelli about how she uses ball screens by Ciera Johnson. After crossing the halfcourt line on the left side, Carter went to the right where Johnson was setting up a pick and roll on the edge of the FT line. Carter used the screen to get a step on two defenders and put up a runner that dropped for the game winner.

Final score: Ags 69 Tigers 67

  • Carter finished with 28 points.
  • 4 out of 5 starters had double figures in scoring. Shambria Washington didn’t score but ran the point and worked with Carter to break the press and played solid D. N’dea Jones finished with a double double. Ciera Johnson was one rebound shy of a double double and Kayla Wells ended with 19 points.
  • The Ags finished with 21 turnovers. Points off turnovers were worse in the second half
  • After trailing in rebounding at halftime, A&M ended up winning the battle of the glass 39-30.
  • Auburn also had 4 players in double figures scoring, led by Janiah McKay with 17. The Tigers outscored the Ags in the paint 34-28 and hit 8 3 pointers vs 6 for A&M. But despite the missed FTs at the end, A&M still had a 17-9 edge in FTs made and a 28-11 advantage in FTs attempted.

Up Next

  • #15 Kentucky Wildcats
  • Sunday January 27, 2019 4PM CST
  • Reed Arena
  • TV: SEC Network Radio 1150AM/102.7 FM
  • Sydney Carter bobblehead to the first 1,000 fans

The Ags will play Kentucky twice this season, once on Sunday and again on Feb 28 in the last conference road game. The Wildcats have been outperforming their preseason expectations. They were unranked in the preseason national polls and picked to finish 7th in the SEC. Now #15 in the AP, they’re actually higher (#12) in the coaches poll. The 17-3 Cats are currently ina 3 way tie for third in the SEC behind Mississippi State and S. Carolina. Kentucky has already played MSU, which is one of their conference losses. The other was an upset loss to Ole Miss when two of their best players were out for much or all of the game due to illness and injury.

Last year, the Ags beat UK at Reed. Not sure why we get them at home 2 years in a row, but I’ll take it.

Expected starters:

  • #4 6-0 Sr G Maci Morris leads the team in scoring at 16.3 ppg, barely edging out Freshman Rhyne Howard. Morris is a smart, tough player who is a 4 year starter. She’s only missed a couple of games in her career due to injuries or illnesses. She’s the kind of player you love if she’s on your team. She’ the kind of player who will get hit in the face and get a cut that requires stitches but be back on the floor in the same game. She had 22 points at Reed last January.
  • #24 5-6 Sr G Taylor Murray is the PG for the Cats. She’s the leader in assists and adds 8.5 ppg. She’s very quick and leads the team with 68 steals.
  • #10 6-2 Fr G Rhyne Howard is averaging 16.2 ppg and 7.2 rebounds/game. She was the Tennessee HS player of the year and a McDonalds nominee. She’s been added to the Wooden award watch list.
  • #14 6-2 So F Tatyana Wyatt averages 5.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg. She came off the bench last year at Reed.
  • #3 6-1 So F Keke McKinney came off the bench last year vs A&M. This season she’s started every game and contributed 5 ppg and 5 rpg. She leads the team in blocked shots.