After surviving a late scare at Auburn, the level of competition was raised again as the Women’s Bouncy Ball team hosted the #14 Kentucky Wildcats at Reed Arena on Sunday afternoon. It was one of the last games on the day’s schedule as #1 Notre Dame and #6 Stanford had already fallen in upsets against N. Carolina and at #21 Utah, respectively. We got to Reed Arena to snag our Sydney Carter bobblehead and the crowd was bolstered by a large contingent from the Corps of Cadets.
After controlling but almost fumbling the opening tip, Chennedy Carter gave first blood to th Ags by hitting a midrange jumper. After Tatyana Wyatt tied the game, UK would miss 8 shots in a row. Unfortunately these included several second and third chances so A&M only led 8-2 when Rhyne Howard would notch the Wildcats’ second FG from behind the arc. Overall, the patter in the first quarter was that A&M would stretch the lead going inside and Kentucke would counter from long range. By the end of the first quarter the score was 19-11 A&M.
UK’s Howard would continue her hot hand in the 2nd, hitting a pair of 3s before the Ags could score and cutting the lead to 19-18. Along the way, N’dea Jones picked up her second foul and was replaced by Jada Walton. Walton would quickly grab a pair of rebounds, get an assist, and drain a corner 3 pointer assisted by Carter. The lead was back to 8 at 31-23 with 2:52 left in the first half. But Kentucky answered with an 8-0 run to tie it at 31 with 1:23 left. Carter would get the last basket of the half to send the teams into the locker rooms with A&M up 33-31.
The Ags would surge ahead early in the third quarter, taking advantage of Ciera Johnson’s strong post play. The lead would grow to 50-40 on a pair of Aggie 3 pointers from Kayla Wells and Carter, leading to at Kentucky 30 second timeout. Carter got two quick fouls after that and went to the bench, replaced by Walton. Without their star, the Ags still maintained the lead. Johnson would be replaced by Aja Ellison after she was called for her third foul. It was 56-48 when Coach Blair put Carter back in; he would say later that he “got greedy”. But the move backfired as Carter was called for an offensive foul trying to force her way through the press on the left side. A putback layup by Jaida Roper cut the lead to 56-50 and a spectacular putback buzzer beater by Walton was waved off for being just late.
The Ags would start the final period with both Carter and Johnson on the bench. Kayla Wells opened the quarter with a 3 point play the old fashioned way. It would be the 4th foul on UK star Maci Morris, who went to the bench. With the two leading scorers for each team watching from the sidelines, A&M got the lead back to 10 with 6:46 remaining in the game. At that point Wildcats Coach Matthew Mitchell decided he needed his star on the floor. Morris would respond with a huge final push, scoring 12 straight points. In the meantime, Blair had brought back Carter. who hit a 3 of her own right off the bench. But Kentucky kept whittling away at the lead. An ill-advised 3 point shot by Carter led to a fast break layup by Keke McKinney that cut the lead to 72-69 with 1:40 left.
With 16 seconds left, the lead was 72-69. The Ags had fouls to give. But Kayla Wells was so desperate to use it that she fouled Rhyne Howard in the act of shooting from way behind the arc. Howard would only make 2 out of 3 preserving a 1 point lead. UK fouled Jones, who only made 1 to make it 73-71. UK called timeout to advance the ball. Morris took the ball out and everyone expected her to get it back to try a game-winning 3 pointer. But Sham Washington used the last foul to give to force the inbounds play to the other side of the court. This time the Ags took away Morris and Howard was forced into an off balance shot that missed. Carter rebounded and was fouled with less than 1 second left. She missed both FTs, but out of timeouts, UK could not advance the ball and a long heave at the buzzer was not close.
Final Score Texas A&M 73 Kentucky 71.
- Maci Morris and Rhyne Howard scored 22 and 21 respectively for UK, to lead all scorers. Kentucky won the rebounding battle 34-31. But the Ags got to the FT line more and shot a much higher FG%.
- Chennedy Carter and Kayla Wells led the Ags with 20 points each. Ciera Johnson was just behind at 19, and for me was a key to the win. N’dea Jones was limited in rebounding to 8 but led the eam in assists with 5, many of them to Johnson.
- The ability of A&M to maintain the lead with Carter on the bench with foul trouble was also important.
- Vanderbilt Commodores
- Thursday Jan 31, 2019 7:30 PM CST
- Reed Arena
- SEC Network 1150 AM/102.7 FM
Since we started the current winning streak at Vandy, the Dores got three players back of the injured list. Chelsie Hall, Jordyn Cambridge and Brinae Alexander played in Vandy’s first SEC win vs Ole Miss last Thursday. The Commodores have to play at S. Carolina on Monday.