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WBB: Ags advance by beating Wright State

Blair: Pinkygate is over

NCAA Womens Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament - Auburn vs Texas A&M
Shambria Washington (shown here during the SEC tourney) led the Ags in rebounds and had 7 assists vs Wright State
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Women’s Bouncy Ball team exploded for 31 points in the first quarter and led wire to wire to take care of a plucky but overmatched Wright State Raiders team in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Reed Arena on Friday afternoon.

The Raiders won the opening tip and grabbed two offensive boards before N’dea Jones grabbed a miss on their third shot attempt. Jones then got a putback to open the scoring. The teams were tied at 2 and 5. Then Chennedy Carter drained her second shot attempt from 3 point distance and everyone in maroon in Reed Arena simultaneously thought “I guess her pinky is OK”. Wright State’s early success on the offensive glass led Coach Blair to pull Jones and Johnson early. Seniors Caylinne Martin and Aja Ellison took over the 5 and the 4 positions and played a good chunk of the middle of the opening quarter. Ellison was notable in how well she boxed out when she was in for Jones. Meanwhile Wright was missing a lot of jump shots and the Ags weren’t. By the end of the opening period the score was 31-13 A&M, with the last A&M points coming on Martin’s favorite turnaround jump shot from the right block with 5 seconds left..

Wright State adjusted their defense in the second quarter and the Ags cooled off. The front line was getting beaten on the glass and frustrated on offense by shorter but more aggressive Wright State players. This led the underdogs to outscore the Ags 16-11 in the second period to go into the locker room with the lead at 42-29.

Wright State had outrebounded A&M in the half by 22-21. The offensive rebound margin was 11-5, which can partially be explained by A&M shooting 46.7% from the field and missing 16 shots, while the Raiders missed 27 FGA in the first half.

After being limited to 4 points and 2 boards in the first half. Ciera Johnson came out as the focus of the early offense in the third quarter. She was more aggressive and quickly got Wright’s posts into foul trouble. It also looked to us like Coach Blair started getting some calls by working the refs about how physical Wright State was in pushing our front line deep under the basket, allowing them to grab long rebounds. After letting the Raiders hang around with a 13-15 point margin, the Ags stretched the lead to 22 in the middle of the third quarter. It would grow to 27 by the middle of the 4th quarter before shrinking as the bench players came in.

Final Score Ags 84 Raiders 61

  • Carer led all scorers with 27 points.
  • 4 of 5 starters finished in double figures with Wells getting 17 points (She made 5 3 pointers), Johnson ending with 15, and Jones scoring 11.
  • Sham Washington only scored 6 points but led A&M in rebounding with 9 and had 7 assists and just 2 turnovers.
  • Everyone who was healthy played and everyone either scored or got a rebound.
  • Angel Baker came off the bench for Wright State to score 22 points. Symone Simmons led in rebounding with 13.
  • Wright State’s Senior Guard Emily Vogelpohl is a tough player. She logged 22 minutes playing with a brace on a fractured wrist that she broke in practice last Saturday. Her Coach said there wasn’t any doubt she’d play once the doctors had cleared her from the possibility of doing additional damage. After all, she had played several games as a freshman with a fractured knee.

Up Next

  • #18 (5 seed) Marquette Golden Eagles
  • Sunday March 24, 2019 1PM CDT
  • Reed Arena
  • TV: ESPN2

I went early to Reed on Friday to watch the first game between 12 seed Rice and 5 seed Marquette. It was a very entertaining game and a tough loss for the many Owl fans who made the trip to College Station. There was a large contingent of students and we spotted Chiney Ogumwike, (the WNBA star who was on the Stanford team we beat in the 2011 FF and sister of Rice guard Erica Ogumwike) in the next section.

Marquette has had injuries and other issues that mean their tallest starter is 6-2 RS Soph Lauren Van Kleunen. They got a few minutes from 6-2 sub Altia Anderson, but otherwise, they have a bunch of players who are 6-0 or shorter. For much of the game, this led to problems facing 6-9 Rice center Nancy Mulkey, who ended up blocking 5 shots. It seemed like Mulkey was in the Marquette players’ heads, so that they were double clutching and rushing layups even when she wasn’t a threat to block them. Mulkey in the middle also meant that Rice could play aggressively at the 3 point line out of a zone defense. Marquette would shoot 4-23 from behind the arc, and shot 33.8% overall.

When Rice went up by 9 with 2:46 to go, I thought the Owls were going to pull off the upset. But Rice went scoreless from there to the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. The scoreless streak continued until less than a minute was left in OT. Meanwhile, Marquette had only scored 4 points. But that was enough. Natisha Hiedeman added a couple of FTs to give the final 58-54 margin.

Likely Starters

  • #5 5-8 Sr G Natisha Hiedeman averages 18.2 ppg and leads the tam in assists. She is the Big East Player of the Year.
  • #1 5-5 Sr G Danielle King averages 12.1 ppg
  • #15 5-9 Sr G Amani Wilborn 11.4 ppg
  • #24 5-11 So G Selena Lott 7.0 ppg
  • #42 6-2 RS So G Lauren Van Kleunen 4.2 ppg

Yes, they’re all listed as guards.

Overall, Marquette is 27-7. They won the Big East regular season. Their loss in the Big East Tourney to DePaul may be a key reason we’re hosting and they aren’t. As a team Marquette averages 82.3 ppg and gives up 60.9. They used a full court press to help get back in the game vs Rice and they want a fast pace. They usually shoot better at 48.6%. They make 8.4 3 pointers per game. They’ll try to penetrate more against us than against Rice.

If the Ags can make Marquette play at the level they did for the majority of Friday’s game, we’ll win. Throughout the game on Friday, we kept saying how badly Marquette was playing but the lead was small until the end when Rice went on a run and then blew the 9 point lead. But nobody thinks they will play that badly. Assistant Coach Bob Starkey talked about how he’s scouted film on Marquette and this was the worst they’ve played. Marquette beat tourney teams in Michigan and DePaul (before losing the conf title to DePaul by 1) and lost to Miss State by just 5 in Starkville. They’ve also faced Notre Dame and Miami. When they’re good they are very good but they’ve had injuries and inconsistent play in the regular season.