It's always tough for a program like McNeese to come into Reed and compete. But with #8 Duke coming in on Sunday, it was even worse for the visiting Cowgirls, as the Ags did not let up for the whole game. It almost seemed unfair when Coach put in a twin towers lineup several times, but it was clearly more about preparation for a big Duke team than anything to do with McNeese.
Courtney Williams returned to the starting lineup in her second game back as Coach Blair went with Jada Terry, Achiri Ade, Williams, Wooden and Wade award watchlist member Courtney Walker, and Jordan Jones. The Ags scored first. McNeese tied it at 2-2. After that the Ags never looked back. By halftime, A&M led 54-14, and 12 players had at least 5 minutes on the floor. Williams had 15 points in the first half, on her way to leading all scorers with 19. McNeese was completely overmatched, but the Ags met Coach Blair's goal of playing at the level they will need against stiffer competition (starting on Sunday).
It's always good to love your team the night before Thanksgiving... this team finally showed up tonight and showed what were capable of doing regardless of opponent.
- Coach Blair
McNeese was overmatched in talent and experience, and it probably won't be this easy again. But despite double digit wins in previous games, the Ags have not looked as connected as they did on Wednesday night against teams that McNeese could probably hang with.
- When you hold anyone to 27 points, the D was obviously great. It was a high-energy defense that created turnovers and transition points. The Cowgirls were held to 17.9% shooting and turned it over 16 times.
- In addition to Williams' 19, Courtney Walker, Rachel Mitchell, and Chelsea Jennings each had 11.
- Jennings had another nice game off the bench. 2 of Jennings career-high (I think) 11 points came on a behind the back pass on a fast break from Curtyce Knox. She also hit several mid-range jumpers. Chelsea led the team in rebounds with 8 and blocked a shot.
- The posts combined for 23 points: Rachel 11, Jada 8, Khaalia 4. They also had 13 rebounds and 7 blocks. Mitchell continued to show growth in her game. In 10 minutes of play, she shot 3/5 from the field and 5/7 from the FT line. She grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 2 shots. She intimidated several more that don't show up in the stats. It was especially nice to see Rachel grab several rebounds by high-pointing the ball, taking full advantage of her height in a way that we didn't see too often in the past.
- The point guards had an exceptional game. Jordan had 10 assists and no turnovers. She added 7 points on 3-5 shooting plus a FT. Curtyce had 7 assists and 1 turnover. Knox didn't have her best shooting night, going just 1 for 7, but she handled the point and her defense very well.
It was a big eye-opener for our young team; a great experience. It certainly wasn't a positive experience but it was a good learning experience.
- McNeese Coach Brooks Donald-Williams
The WBB record book doesn't track records for defensive performances or margin of victory. I may have missed some, but from my scan of the year by year records, this ties last year's 77-27 win over PVAMU for 3rd on the list of all-time lowest opponent scores. The 2012-13 team beat La Tech 77-26. Way back in Women's Bouncy Ball's 1974-75 inaugural season at A&M, Coach Kay Don's girls beat Rice 99-16. I figure that has to hold the record for margin of victory (not counting a 124-29 exhibition win in 2010). This game is probably second.
Up Next: Duke
- Reed Arena
- Noon CST on Sunday
- SEC Network
The degree of difficulty takes a massive jump on Sunday as the Blue Devils take on the Ags at Noon. Duke was upset in last year's second round DePaul, avoiding a Sweet 16 conflict with last year's team. In the offseason, Duke lost Alexis Jones, their talented starting PG, who transferred to Baylor to be closer to her home in Texas. This transfer, plus the graduation of 5 seniors, including WNBA first rounders Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston put Duke under the radar among the 2014-15 favorites. But Duke returns one of the best players in the nation in post Elizabeth Williams, and added the #3 recruiting class for 2014 (4 5-star frontcourt players). Duke got my attention when they opened the season with a 90-40 win against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Duke is the first team the Ags will play that will have a significant size advantage. Likely starters:
- 30 6-4 Sr C/F Amber Henson averages 6.5 pts/game and 3.8 rebounds/game.
- 01 6-3 Sr C/F Elizabeth Williams averages 16.3 pts/game and 9.3 rebounds/game. She already has 13 blocks and 5 steals in 4 games.
- 04 6-0 Fr G/F Sierra Calhoun averages 10.8 pts/game and 3 rebounds/game
- 14 5-10 Sr G/F Ka'lia Johnson leads the team in assists with 24 vs just 7 turnovers. She adds 6.5 pts/game
- 23 6-1 RSFr G Rebecca Greenwell is second on the team in scoring at 14.8 pts/game. So far she has just edged Williams for the team lead on the boards with 10.3/game. Greenwell has 12 steals so far.
Duke only has two players on their roster shorter than the 5-10 Johnson, it looks like neither plays much. Two reserves, 6-5 Fr F/G Azura Stevens and 6-4 So F Oderah Chidom are averaging 10+ pts/game. The Blue Devils are averaging 85.8 pts/game. Duke leads the nation in rebounding margin and is a top team in FG%. Duke plays 2-3 zone and has been holding opponents to 30% shooting. How inflated these numbers are from the SOS, I don't know. But the size isn't inflated and Coach Blair does not want to get into a half court game with Duke.
Sunday will be the Blue Devils' first test against a top team, and they may have some travel hangover since they play on Friday night at Cameron Indoor.
There are a lot of other Aggie sports to back this weekend, but If you're in town, please come to Reed and support the team on Sunday.