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WBB: Ags get a road win vs Ole Miss

The win streak hits seven, and 5-3 Mizzou is up next

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Spokane Regional
Kayla Wells got hot in the third quarter
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Women’s Bouncy Ball team spent Super Bowl Sunday in Oxford, and they had the right idea. They missed one of the worst Super Bowls of all time, and they grabbed a conference victory.

First Half

Ole Miss tried something unexpected by starting the game with leading scorer Crystal Allen on the bench. Allen came into the game at #2 in scoring behind our own Chennedy Carter, but had struggled in their most recent loss vs Auburn. The Ags started strong by getting an open jumper for N’dea Jones and led 11-8 at the first media timeout. 3 pointers by Ole Miss Senior Shandricka Sessom and turnovers by the Ags kept the margin from being larger and it didn’t look like Ole Miss could handle Cierra Johnson.But the sloppiness and turnovers continued and A&M would only score 3 more points in the quarter. This allowed the Rebels to take the lead into the first break at 17-14

The Ags never let Ole Miss get too far ahead and retook the lead in the middle of the second quarter. The advantage swung back and forth by plus or minus 3 points as several players spent significant time on the bench with 2 fouls in a game where it seemed like there were a lot of whistles. This meant that Jada Walton and Caylinne Martin got significant first half playing time and Cheah Real-Whitsett and Jasmine Williams also put in short appearances. At the end of the quarter it looked like the Ags might take the lead into the intermission, but a pair of missed 3 pointers by Carter turned into a layup by Jhileiya Dunlap and a buzzer beating basket by Sessom to restore the 3 point deficit at halftime.

Halftime Score: Ole Miss 37, Texas A&M 34

Second Half

A&M came out in the third quarter with a different level of determination and energy. The Ags started pressing on D and now it was Ole Miss committing turnovers. Kayla Wells, who had gone 1-5 from the field in the first half, got hot in the second half and gave the Ags the lead on a layup with 8:34 to go in the third. Dunlap would get the last Ole Miss lead of the day with a layup to make it 39-38 at the 6:45 mark. The Ags would go on a 9-0 run before Dunlap got the next score for Ole Miss. The Ags would outscore the Rebels 18-6 in the quarter and take a 52-43 lead into the final period.

Carter opened the final period by expanding the lead to 57-43 on a FT, a fastbreak assisted by Jones, and a jump shot in the lane. Kayla made it 59-43 before Ole Miss scored. Even this was bad for the Rebels as Crystal Allen only made one of two FTs, breaking her streak of consecutive made FTs at 47. The Ags pretty much coasted the rest of the way. Sham Washington got A&M’s only 3 pointer of the game with 3:30 left and then fouled out with 1:23 remaining. The end of the came was a lot of FTs by Carter, who seemed to be able to get defenders to foul her whenever the shot clock was close to running down.

Final score: Texas A&M 72, Ole Miss 60

Additional Notes

  • Chennedy Carter led all scorers with 28 points, half of which came from the FT line
  • Kayla Wells had 17 points, 14 coming in the second half.
  • Ciera Johnson had 13 points. N’dea Jones had 7 points and 10 rebounds
  • Sham Washington dished out 6 assists.
  • Sessom led Ole Miss with 17 points. Dunlap and La’Karis Salter were also in double figures scoring.

Although the Ags won by a healthy margin, Assistant Bob Starkey said afterwards something to the effect of the worst thing for a team is to play badly and still win. He thought the Ags hadn’t practiced well and the way the team played reflected them not having learned the scouting report well enough. Although Coach Blair spent much of the time since the Vandy game emphasizing how Ole Miss had upset the Ags in the recent past, I have to wonder if players were distracted by a combination of Super Bowl Sunday and looking ahead to next week’s game at Mizzou.

Up Next

  • Missouri TIgers
  • Thursday Feb 7, 2019 6PM CST
  • Mizzou Arena
  • Columbia, MO

Coach Robin Pingeton’s Mutigers have had an up and down season. Initially picked to finish 5th in the SEC, Mizzou was #16 in the preseason AP poll. But there were questions about how the Tigers would provide support for All-America candidate Sophie Cunningham after the graduation of forward Jordan Frericks and the medical retirement of post Cierra Porter. After getting upset in the NCAAs by Florida Gulf Coast, Pingeton talked about remodeling the Mizzou offense around FGCU’s philosophy: a fast, guard and 3-point shot oriented offense without a clear point guard as QB. A couple of early nonconference losses dropped Mizzou from the rankings. They climbed back in at #22 in week 6 but a home loss to S. Dakota in mid-December dropped them out again. They reentered the polls when we did, fell back out after losing to S. Carolina and Kentucky.

Porter would unretire in December and has now played in 9 games, starting 2. But the SEC schedule has been up and down as well. As of Sunday, the Tigers are in 4th place, 1.5 games behind the Ags. Mizzou and LSU play on Monday night.

At least one of the reporters covering the Mizzou women view them as offensively challenged, despite their ability to do things like take an 18-0 lead to open the game vs Auburn.

... the team has a tendency to go into scoring droughts that often last for minutes at a time. When these droughts happen, many of the Tigers turn to Cunningham and expect her to carry the offensive load on her own. It’s a burden that she handles as gracefully as she can, but considering virtually every one of Missouri’s opponents have had multiple defenders on the Tigers’ star guard, it’s a job she is sometimes unable to do. When that happens, Missouri ends up with lots of empty possessions characterized by a lack of movement.

Missouri’s problems with scoring droughts and its frequent ill-advised solution to them are not unique to this year’s team. But they’ve been worsened by the team’s lack of a strong scoring threat in the post, an unhealthy reliance on the 3-point shot and an inability to take care of the ball.

Mizzou also has had problems with turnovers. But this is still likely to be a different level of competition than we got from Vandy or Ole Miss.

Probable starters

  • #03 6-1 Sr G Sophie Cunningham is their Naismith and All-America Candidate. She’s been an AP-All America Honorable Mention as a soph and junior and was all SEC since arriving at Mizzou. She’s averaging 16.6 ppg and 5.9 rebounds. She is physical and has a history of getting under other teams’ skin.
  • #21 6-4 Sr F Cierra Porter is averaging 5.6 ppg and 4.1 rpg but these numbers are probably deceptive as she’s been reacclimating to D1 basketball after coming back onto the team in December.
  • #22 5-9 Jr G Jordan Roundtree averages 3.7 ppg. She came off the bench in her freshman and sophomore seasons, playing in every game.
  • #05 5-7 Rs Sr G Lauren Aldridge started every game after sitting out a year in 16-17 after transferring from Kansas, where she was a starter for two seasons. Last year she was the PG, but her role in the new offense is less clear. 89 of her 112 FGA have been from 3 point range.
  • #23 5-11 Jr G Amber Smith averages 7.3 rebounds/game and is the second-leading scorer at 13 ppg.