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WBB: Ags get Coach Blair into the 800 wins club

A&M took control early vs Houston

NCAA Photos Archive
Coach Blair after the most memorable of his 800 wins

The University of Houston Cougars came into Reed Arena on Sunday afternoon with everyone expecting them to be the victim for Coach Gary Blair’s 800th win of his Div-1 NCAA Women’s Basketball Career. Both team started a bit shakily: there were 5 alternating consecutive turnovers before Kayla Wells opened the scoring with a 3 pointer, but by the middle of the first quarter A&M had established that it was not going to let the Cougars spoil the special occasion.

Ciera Johnson not getting into foul trouble contributed to a 14-6 edge in points in the paint, but the Ags were also scoring in transition with Carter taking the ball aggressively to the bucket. After being tied at 5 at the 7:22 mark, A&M took the lead for good. It was 21-14 after the first quarter. Cheah Rael-Whitsitt and Aaliyah Wilson played in the first quarter and Blair gave others on his bench significant minutes in the second quarter as McKinzie Green and Jasmine Williams played off the bench. A&M was still able to extend the lead and go into the break up 44-26.

The third quarter started out badly as the Ags missed their first 9 shot attempts while turning the ball over 3 times in the first 4 minutes. Coach Blair yelled from the sidelines to “get it together” and told the team he would not call a timeout. He explained later that he expected his experienced starters to be able to solve the problems while playing, and the Ags did. Not calling a timeout was easier, of course, because while the offense was out of sync, the D continued to shut down UH. The Cougars were only able to get two baskets during that stretch and when the team started clicking again the lead extended to 23 with 3:23 left in the third. Blair went even deeper into the bench with a lineup of two starters, Washington and Wells, plus Cheah, Wilson, and Anna Dreimane. The lineup failed to score for the rest of the quarter, but UH could only score 1 FT in the same stretch of time.

  • Carter what phenomenal at getting through traffic for layups on Sunday and finished with 23 points. But what was better in my view is that she answered Coach Blair’s challenge to the guards to contribute more to rebounding by snagging 7 boards. She also shot 50% from the field and was positive in the A/TO numbers with 4 assists against 2 turnovers. She had 4 steals.
  • Johnson and Jones both ended up with double-doubles. Ciera had 16 points and 10 rebounds while N’dea contributed 12 points and 11 boards. N’dea was hitting her mid-range jump shots, which will help diversify the offense if she continues to get those consistently.
  • Kayla Wells made it 4 out of 5 starters in double figures with 11 points. Her 2 3 pointers where the only ones that fell for the Ags. Kayla was 2-5 from distance and the rest of the team was 0-3. Shambria Washington scored 6 points while dishing out 9 assists. Overall A&M shared the ball well and had 24 assists.
  • The Ags outrebounded Houston 50-36. Houston turned it over 21 times. Unfortunately A&M came close to that with 19 turnovers.
  • Houston had 3 players, Gladney, Branch, and Hill each score 10 points.

Afterward there was a ceremony to honor Blair for win #800 with video congratulations from the 3 active members of the 1000 win club for Division I: C. Vivian Stringer of Rutgers, Stanford’s Tara Vanderveer, and UConn’s Geno Auriemma.

Up Next

The Ags leave early Tuesday morning for Puerto Rico where they will play in the Puerto Rico Coqui Classic. They’ll play Georgia Tech on Friday evening and Montana State on Saturday afternoon before coming home for Xmas. Rice and Virginia Tech will also be in Puerto Rico for the event. The time difference means the games will both be relatively early here.

  • Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  • Friday Dec 20, 2019 3PM CST
  • Mario Morales Coliseum, Guaynabo, PR
  • Radio: 1150 AM/93.7 FM

Georgia Tech hired ESPN analyst Nell Fortner as their head coach after forcing out long-time coach MaChelle Joseph in an ugly situation where there were accusations of player abuse against Joseph while the Coach accused the school of sex discrimination and sued them for a Title IX violation after being fired. Fortner’s college coaching career got started as a grad assistant for Gary Blair at Stephen F Austin. Since then, in addition to time in the ESPN studios she has been HC at Purdue, coached the Olympic team, in the WNBA, and at Auburn.

Fortner has the Yellow Jackets at 8-1 so far with the one loss a close one in a Thansgiving tournament to now 10-1 Rutgers. Georgia Tech has already beaten SEC team Georgia, the first time the Jackets have won against their in-state rivals in Athens. Likely starters:

  • #33 6-1 Sr G Francesca Pan 14.9 ppg
  • #13 6-4 Jr F Lorela Cubaj 11.2 ppg. Cubaj is also the leading rebounder at 9.8 ppg
  • #31 5-7 So G Lotta-Maj Lahtinen 9.9 ppg
  • #41 5-9 Jr G Kierra Fletcher 8.8 ppg
  • #20 6-5 Fr C Nerea Hermosa 8 ppg

#02 5-10 So G Jasmine Carson averages 11.9 ppg off the bench. The question mark for Georgia Tech is the quality of the opposition, so playing A&M will be a major test for them. The Jackets have more size than most of our opponents so far.

  • Montana State Bobcats
  • Saturday Dec 21, 2019 12:30PM CST
  • Mario Morales Coliseum, Guaynabo, PR
  • Radio: 1620 AM/94.5 FM

The Bobcats are 4-3 with losses to some pretty good teams: S Dakota State, Minnesota, and #18 Gonzaga. They have to play Wichita State on Friday at what would be 9AM Mountain Time. These five have started all 7 games.

  • #35 6-0 Sr F Fallyn Freije is second in scoring with 11.4 ppg and leads in rebounding at 6.6 rpg.
  • #24 5-8 Sr G Oliana Squires leads the team at 12 ppg. She leads in assists but the assist numbers are pretty close among their top 3.
  • #33 6-2 Sr F Madeline Smith aveages 8.7 ppg
  • #02 5-6 Fr G Darian White averages 9.9 ppg
  • #15 5-11 Sr F Martha Kuderer averages 7.1 ppg