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WBB: Ags overcome slow starts in Puerto Rico

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Wins over Georgia Tech and Montana State get A&M to 11-1

Coqui is the common name for tree frogs found in Puerto Rico
Wikimedia Commons: Cathybwl [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

The Women’s Basketball team headed to Puerto Rico for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday as part of the Coqui Classic along with Georgia Tech, Rice, Wichita State, Montana State, and Virginia Tech. The Classic is set up so each team plays twice with predetermined opponents. The Ags drew Georgia Tech on Friday and Montana State on Saturday. The games were both available as free streaming video via a YouTube channel (where replays are still available).

Ags vs Georgia Tech

A&M came out cold vs the Yellow Jackets and it was 7-1 for GT when Coach Blair called a time out to get his team a wake up call. Carter and Aaliyah Wilson off the bench got A&M back in the game, and the deficit was just 8-10 with 3:03 remaining in the first quarter after Wilson completed a 3 point play. But it didn’t look good when both Carter committed her second foul and went to the bench. The Ags would tie the game at 13 but the Jackets finished with the last 2 buckets of the opening quarter to take a 17-13 lead.

A&M would tie the game at 17 a minute and a half into the second quarter but then Wells picked up her second foul. Blair put Kayla on the bench and gambled that Carter could play the rest of the half without picking up her third foul. Neither team scored until Lorela Cubaj hit a 3 pointer with 6:46 left in the half. It would be the Yellow Jackets only score in the quarter. Meanwhile the Ags turned it up. N’dea Jones had a spectacular run getting four consecutive offensive rebounds on one possession before scoring. Aaliyah Wilson was having her best game of the season, scoring and blocking Georgia Tech’s Jasmine Carson twice. By the time halftime came, the Ags had outscored the Jackets 17-3 in the second quarter and went into the intermission with a 30-20 lead.

The Ags held off the Yellow Jackets through the second half. The lead got up to 14 and Georgia Tech never got closer than 8

Final Score: A&M 60, Georgia Tech 48

  • Carter led the Ags with 21 points. 50% (10-20) FG% despite going 0-5 from behind the arc.
  • Although Carter led in scoring as she does more often than not, I thought the heroes of the game were the others who stepped up. Aaliyah Wilson with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. N’dea Jones playing all 40 minutes and getting 12 boards. Ciera Johnson with 15 points.
  • GT was led by Lotta-Maj Lahteinen with 16 points. Although the Jackets did hit 7 3-pointers to 1 for A&M, while watching the game I thought that GT relied too much on the 3 pointer. They were 7-26 from behind the arc and 13-30 from closer in. That only yielded 1 FT attempt for them vs 17 for A&M.
  • Consistent with the previous: A&M led in points in the paint 30-16. The Ags also dominated transition with a 12-0 edge in fast break points.

Ags vs Montana State

I got the sense that the team and the fans watching at home (Morales Coliseum reported an attendance of 100 for Friday’s game) thought that the Montana State Bobcats would be the easier of the two opponents for the Coqui Classic. After all, Georgia Tech came in at 8-1 while Montana State was 4-4 after losing to Wichita State on Friday. Georgia Tech might not have had a high quality win, but they had at least beaten a couple of P5 teams, including Georgia in Athens and Wisconsin.

But coaches often talk about how their own team is the key, and after starting slowly against Georgia Tech, the Ags perhaps got off to an even worse start against Montana State. The Bobcats scored the first 7 points of the game and this time the Ags didn’t close out the quarter well. A&M missed 7 layups in the first quarter as part of shooting 4-15 overall. 3 of the 4 makes were 3 pointers by Carter and Wells, or it could have been worse. Meanwhile Montana State was 8-15 shooting with 3 3 ptrs of their own.

Once again the Ags rallied in the second quarter to take the lead. But A&M couldn’t put Montana State away. It took the almost whole second quarter to get back to even and the halftime lead was just 35-33 as Wells scored with 35 seconds remaining.

A 3 pointer by Fallyn Fredje got the lead back for the Bobcats, but it looked like the Ags would finally take control as the quarter went on. A&M went inside and took a 9 point lead into the final period. When Carter completed a 3 point play with 7:43 left in the game to make it 62-52, I think a lot of watchers thought it was over. But Montana State had other ideas and followed that score with an 8-0 run to force a Blair timeout that became the final media timeout. After the timeout, Carter took matters into her own hands and scored the next 8 A&M points, mostly off the kind of penetration that his her trademark. Montana State still was able to cut the lead to 3 twice before A&M finally pulled away in the last 3 minutes.

Final score A&M 78, Montana State 67

  • Carter led A&M with 27 points. She added 8 rebounds, which tied her with Johnson for the lead among all players. She had 6 assists and 3 turnovers. All this was despite playing with some minor injuries, according to Coach Bond in the post-game.
  • It was Ciera Johnson’s turn to play all 40 minutes after N’dea Jones did it on Friday. Johnson had 17 points and 8 boards.
  • Kayla Wells was also in double figures with 13 points and 5 rebounds.
  • The Bobcats had 3 players in double figures. Overall, the Bobcats were 7-29 on 3 pointers, which played a big part of their offense. The Bobcats did a good job of limiting the Ags in transition, or at least in countering with transition offense of their own. While A&M was 12-0 in fast breaks vs Georgia Tech, The edge vs Montana State was just 13-12.

Afterward, Kayla was asked about the halftime talk from the coaches and whether it reflected the Christmas spirit. She laughed and said no, not really. Coach Bond elaborated by saying that the coaches talked about how the Ags need to respect every opponent, including the ability of the opposing coaches to game plan vs A&M.

Up Next

The Ags get a Christmas break before returning to Reed Arena to finish off the year and the out of conference schedule

  • Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders
  • Sunday Dec 29, 2019 3PM CST
  • Reed Arena
  • Holiday Hoops discounted tickets
  • Streaming SECN+ Radio: 1620AM/94.5FM

TAMU-CC is 8-3 overall and is working on a 4 game winning streak after starting Southland Conference play 2-0 with wins over Nicholls State and Central Arkansas. Starters against UCA were

  • #12 5-7 Sr G Dae Dae Young missed a few games during the season but started 7 of the 8 she appeared in. She averages 6.1 ppg
  • #21 5-10 Sr G Emma Young has started 9 of 11 games and has played in all 11. She averages 9.3 ppg and is second in rebounding at 6.9 rpg.
  • #22 5-9 Sr G Dalesia Booth is the only Islander to start all 11 games. She leads the team in scoring at 12.8 ppg. She’s the only player averaging more than 30 minutes per game.
  • #2 6-3 Sr F Alexes Bryant has started 10/11 games. She’s second in scoring and leads in rebounding 7.1 rpg
  • #34 5-11 Sr F Tiara Matthews has appeared in 11 games and started 8 times. She’s averaging 5.9 ppg.

Head Coach Royce Chadwick has been at TAMU-CC since 2012. Before that he spent time as HC at Marshall and Stephen F Austin, where he followed Joe Curl, who coached SFA for 1 season after Blair left for Arkansas..