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WBB: Ags survive a scare at Rice 62-61

Carter with 29; Johnson with the game-winner

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Chicago Regional-Notre Dame vs Texas A&M
Ciera Johnson’s putback saved the day for the Ags
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

I thought about driving down for the Rice game but wound up paying for ESPN+ to get a pretty poor quality stream. I also had the A&M radio guys on after I got sick of the announcers on the freezing streaming.

Rice was picked to win their conference and was receiving votes in the polls. Then, in the middle of the week they went up to Dallas and blew a 4th quarter lead and lost by double digits to SMU. The box score in that game showed a triple double for Nancy Mulkey (15 pts, 11 rebounds, 11 blocks), 17 points for Erica Ogumwike, and a total of 11 points from everyone else. 23 turnovers didn’t help.

Things started well for the Ags. After Rice took an early lead, the Ags used points off turnovers and a hot hand from Carter to go up 24-14 after the first quarter. Carter had 17 at that point. The game seemed under control with Rice getting the lead below 10 and the Ags stretching it back out through the rest of the half. But after Carter made it 36-26 with under a minute to go, Rice’s Haylee Swayzee cut it to 7 with a 3 pointer with 13 seconds to go in the half.

Carter got the lead back to 10 early in the 3rd quarter but Rice went on a run to cut it to 2 at 39-37. Rice’s supporting cast players were hitting 3s and while A&M kept answering, the game felt like a tossup. Lauren Schwartz cut it to 1 with 2:09 left in the third and then Sydne Wiggins took the lead with a 3 pointer 57 seconds left in the quarter. Alexah Chrisman got a late layup off an Ogumwike assist to give the Owls a 4 point edge going into the final period. The Ags had been unable to score for the final 3:33 of the third.

Neither team scored for the first minute and a half of the fourth quarter. Kayla Wells, who was having a breakout scoring game had missed several 3s so she drove for a layup to cut the lead to 2. Ciera Johnson tied it up on a putback of a miss by N’dea Jones. Now it was Rice’s turn to rebuild the lead. They would get back up to +4 but the Ags fought back to tie it again, with points in the paint despite the shot altering effect of the 6-9 Mulkey. With 301 remaining, Cheah Rael-Whitsett blocked a shot giving the Ags possession. Johnson kicked the ball out to Shambria Washington who hit her only FG of the game, a 3 to give the Ags the lead.

Neither team could score again until Rice got possession after Carter traveled following a defensive rebound with 25 seconds left. There was some question about that call but the stream wasn’t good enough for me to tell. Ogumwike was able to convert the inbounds play to give Rice a 61-60 lead with 23 seconds left. Rice had used all its timeouts before that. A&M had a couple left, and Blair used one to advance the ball to the front court after setting up a play.

The ball came in to Carter who ran the clock down. With about 12 seconds left she found Washington in the left corner for an open look at a 3 pointer. As Wiggins flew by trying to defend, Sham’s shot drew iron and then bounced off the glass. Meanwhile, N’dea was battling Mulkey for position and displaced her closer to the basket opening space for Cierra to attack the left side of the lane. Ciera grabbed the ball at the top of her jump and kissed it off the glass for the go-ahead score with 9.3 seconds remaining. Not having a timeout came back to hurt Rice as Carter and Washington harassed Ogumwike without fouling as she tried to race the ball up the court. Ogumwike either fumbled the ball to Wiggins or made a desperate pass as she was falling down. Wiggins took a couple of dribbles as Carter and Washington and launched a desperation shot that fell short. Wells was boxing out Mulkey to prevent a putback.

  • Carter led all scorers with 29 points
  • Kayla Wells had a season high 19
  • The Ags shot 50% in the first quarter but the shooting % dropped dramatically after that.
  • The teams tied in rebounds. Remarkably, Mulkey didn’t get her first and only rebound until late in the 4th quarter.
  • In contrast to their performance at SMU, Lauren Schwartz and Syndne Wiggins led the Owls with 19 and 13 points, respectively,

It seemed to me like defense was key on both sides, as both teams had long scoring droughts. The Ags were able to force several shot clock violations and multiple 5 second calls on inbounds plays (although the ref seemed to have kind of a quick whistle on some of those). Every Rice player had at least one turnover, but the Owls took better care of the ball in the second half.

Up Next

The Ags don’t play a midweek game but head to the W. Coast for their next challenge

  • USC Trojans
  • Saturday Nov 23, 2019 7:30 PM CST
  • Galen Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • TV/Streaming: not clear. Radio 1150AM/92.7 FM

The Ags are 4-1 all time vs the Women of Troy. Last year we had a big win at Reed Arena vs a USC team that got better by the end of the season. In 2017 we played a barn burner at their place where Carter, then a freshman, broke Danielle Adams’ single game record by scoring 46, including the game winner.

USC is 3-0 so far this season with another rebuilding roster for Coach Mark Trakh after losing 4 key players to a combination of graduation and transfers. Conquest Chronicles previewed USC in October. Aliyah Mazyck and Mariya Moore graduating was expected. Junior Minyon Moore transferring to Oregon and Ja’Tavia Tapley transferring to Arizona State were surprising. But the transfer portal taketh but it also gives. Expected starters (with a lot of Texans!)

  • #15 6-5 Fr C Angel Jackson was a McDonalds AA.
  • #22 5-10 Fr G Kyra White played at Converse Judson, where she won the 6A title last year. Her grandfather is former Houston Rocket Rudy White.
  • #5 5-11 Gr Tr G Stephanie Watts is an incoming transfer from UNC, where she was a starter who averaged 15.2 ppg.
  • #24 5-8 So G Desiree Caldwell is the younger sister of Recee Caldwell, who lit up the Ags while she was at Tech. Desiree was on the USA U18 team in 2018 and played on the U16 team before that. She scored 10 against us last year.
  • #4 5-7 Fr G Endyia Rogers is another Texan. She played for DFW Elite and was 2019 Gatorade player of the year in Texas at Bishop Lynch HS.