The game was available as streaming video through the Big East Digital Network. Using the Fox Sports Go app I was able to stream it from my iPad to my TV via Airplay and an Apple TV. Having video at all for this was great, but also frustrating, as the stream froze or dropped several times. Both teams played hard and it was a real battle that was close until the Ags got the Demons in a must-foul situation at the very end.
Courtney Williams is still suspended and didn't travel with the team. A&M started Jada Terry at the post, Achiri Ade, Tori Scott, Courtney Walker and Jordan Jones, while DePaul went with a much smaller lineup with four guards and a 6-2 forward. But almost everyone had to play in the first half as several Ags had to go to the bench with foul trouble. Jordan Jones had 2 fouls before the middle of the half, and backup PG Curtyce Knox finished the half with 3 fouls. Toward the end of the half, newcomer Shlonte Allen was running the point in her first action as an Ag. Walker also finished the half with two fouls. The Ags were outrebounded and had 10 turnovers in the first half.
So with all that, you might be surprised to hear that A&M went into the intermission up by 1 at 37-36 and had led by as many as 8. The Ags did it with defense. DePaul shot under 30% in the half and was kept well below their normal rate of 3 point shooting. The Demons erased the 8 point A&M lead and led 36-32 with 2:13 to go in the half. But A&M shut out the DePaul for the rest of the half.
The starters returned in the second half and the pattern continued of the Ags taking a lead and DePaul fighting back. The Demons pressed for much of the game and the Ags trouble a couple of times getting the ball into the frontcourt. When DePaul tied the game at 66 with just 2:45 to go, the crowd was getting into the game and the home fans were thinking comeback win.
It looked like it might happen when Walker missed a layup and Chanise Jenkins got a steal after the defensive rebound. Jenkins fouled Chelsea Jennings. Despite missing her previous FT attempts, Jennings calmly drained both in crunch time to give A&M the lead for good. Jennings stole the ball on the next DePaul possession, allowing the Ags to run the clock down to 1:32 before JJ was called for a charge. DePaul was called for an offensive foul of their own as they tried to even the score. Walker then made a great move through a crowd on the right side for a layup late in the shot clock to make it a 2 possession game with a minute to go. Coming out of a timeout, the Demons were able to draw a foul on Walker with 39 seconds left. But Jessica January, who had a great game overall, was gassed and missed both FTs. Forced to foul, the Demons sent JJ and Walker to the line for A&M's last 6 points on perfect FT shooting in the final minute. DePaul was not able to cut the lead as the Ags got stops including a Jennings block of a Brittaney Hrynko 3 point attempt. The Demons did get the last 2 points on FTs after Curtyce Knox fouled out with 5 seconds left.
I'm sure there are lots of things the coaches will want to work on (rebounding, turnovers, no fast break points), but this was a very nice win for A&M: On the road vs a top 20 team picked to win the Big East, without one of our stars. Walker led the Ags with 25, while JJ and Khaalia each added 10 points. January countered with 24 for the Blue Demons who also had 3 players finish in double digits. Hrynko had 19 and Megan Rogowski added 10. The difference in the scoring came from the depth and balance across the rest of the A&M lineup. Ade and Allen had 7. Terry and Jennings had 6. Scott added 5. Meanwhile the rest of the Demons who scored only contributed 4, 4, 3, 2, and 2. Defense was intense: after holding DePaul to 29.3 in the first half, the Ags only relaxed to allow 33.3% in the second. There must have been a talk about rebounding at halftime; after trailing at intermission, A&M finished with a 50-39 edge on the glass. The Ags lost the turnover battle 24-14, but DePaul was only able win points off turnovers by 25-20.
A&M does miss Williams scoring. In the early competition at the 5 it looks like both of the younger posts are ahead of Rachel Mitchell. Rachel only saw the court for 2 minutes while Terry and Hillsman each played 18.
The Ags stay in Chicago for two more days of the Maggie Dixon Classic.
- Saturday: New Mexico at 4PM
- Sunday: UT-Pan Am at 2PM