Big Monday took the fightin Texas Aggie Women's Bouncy Ball team to play in front of a large and hostile crowd (13,546: more than their men are getting) at Colonial Life Arena. S. Carolina was at home, and coming off a bye. And they're ranked #1 in both polls. And they are a really tough matchup for how we play. Meanwhile, the Ags were coming off their first ever loss to Georgia. So, while I was hoping for the Ags to pull off the upset, it would definitely be an upset to get out of Columbia with a win. The worst case of a reprise of the Tennessee loss was a possibility.
Starters: Khaalia Hillsman got the start in the post to go with Ade, CWill CWalk and Jones . S. Carolina countered with 5-8 Jr G Khalida Sessions, 5-9 Jr G Tiffany Mitchell (last season's SEC POY), 6-0 Asia Dozier, 6-4 Elem Ibiam and 6-0 Aleighsa Welch , This is their smaller lineup. The game was 8-7 Gamecocks at the first media timeout despite JJ giving up two early and bad turnovers to Sessions. Rachel came in for Khaalia after a timeout and hit a quick jumper. The teams traded the lead. The Ags played some zone after 6-5 freshman Aja Wilson (the #1 recruit in the nation) subbed in. The Ags were down 3 at the second media timeout, after which S. Carolina brought 6-4 Soph Alaina Coates (last year's SEC freshman of the year) off the bench.
JJ picked up her second foul at 9:26. Curtyce Knox subbed in. Despite the height disadvantage and trouble with ball security, the Ags hung tough and even had a 4 point lead at 24-20 with 7:48 left. An 10-0 run for the Gamecocks flipped the lead to 30-24 USC by 4:05, when Blair called a timeout. At this point the Ags had given up 5 steals and the Gamecocks were shooting 58.3% from the floor. A significant part of that was Wilson being 4-5.
The run continued after the timeout. Jones broke the run with a 3 with 2:46 left to cut the lead to 34-27. After Welch hit one of two from the FT line, Walker hit a J from the top of the key to make it 35-29. The Gamecocks got it back to 10 on a sequence where they got 3 offensive boards. Jones cut it to 8 at the end of the half.
For the most part it was a well-played half by both teams. Ade, Williams, and Jones each had 7 for the Ags, while S. Carolina was led by Aja Wilson off the bench with 11. Overall the Ags were only outrebounded by 17-14, so the margin came from that one late possession. The Ags turned it over 9 times to just 4 for Sakerlina. Jones and Walker finished the half with 2 fouls apiece, while the Gamecocks 7 fouls were on 7 different players. Of the 34 points for the home team, 28 were in the paint.
Both teams went back to their starters to open the second half. Both teams started slowly, and the Ags closed the lead to 40-35. There was a chance for a big momentum shift when Jones stole the ball and hit Ade for a breakaway attempt. Welch blocked layup and made a great save to start a break the other way. But the Ags beat her down the floor and drew a charge. When Jones cut the lead to 40-38 with another trey at 16:32, Coates and Wilson came back in. S. Carolina scored the next 4 and got both Jones and Walker into deeper foul trouble while into the bonus before the 15:47 media timeout.
The Gamehens pulled back ahead by 10 before Walker hit a couple of Js. Both teams turned the ball over several times in that stretch. At 11:59 the lead was 7, which Erica Roy made into a 10 point edge with their first 3 of the game after another media timeout. Welch got her 4th foul at 10:32... and was replaced by Wilson. S. Carolina got their largest lead to that point with a run to 60-44 before Blair burned another timeout with 9:00 to go.
The Ags had fought back each time the Gamecocks had opened a gap up to that point. But there wasn't enough to do it once more. The rout was on after that. Coach Blair even got a tech with 2:28 left down 20.
Final score S. Carolina 79, Ags 61 .
I had a bad feeling about this game. For 24 minutes the Ags gave us the hope that is needed to make a loss seem even more crushing. But going in, I knew that S. Carolina was #1 for a reason, as well as being an especially tough matchup for the Ags until/unless our post play develops.
- 4 out of 5 starters for the Ags finished with 10+ points. 4 Lady Gamecocks were in double digit scoring (2 starters and 2 off the bench). Not surprisingly, their top scorers were further above 10 than ours.
- A&M was led by Achiri Ade, who had 15 points. But against the massive SC lineup, her 5 rebounds was below her average.
- It was another very frustrating night for Courtney WIlliams who finished with 12 points but was 3-21 from the floor. As in the last game it seemed to me that she was probably told to keep shooting despite not hitting because others were not getting good looks. Williams is our best player in terms of creating her own shot. In the first half, Williams' penetration contributed to getting assists to Ade. In the second half the D took those away.
- Jones ended with 14 points and 4 assists. But she had 5 turnovers, several where the SC guards did to her what she does to lesser point guards: strip her near midcourt to trigger a break.
- Courtney Walker chipped in 10 points but turned it over 6 times. I'm not sure if that included several times when the Gamecock guards used the Shane Battier defensive move described by Michael Lewis a few years ago.
On defense, it was as if Battier had set out to maximize the misery Bryant experiences shooting a basketball, without having his presence recorded in any box score. He blocked the ball when Bryant was taking it from his waist to his chin, for instance, rather than when it was far higher and Bryant was in the act of shooting.
- After trailing in rebounds by 1 in the first half, the Ags were destroyed on the boards in the second. The final margin was 43-29. The 3-headed post was outmatched, especially when Coates was in the game. For most of the game, Blair stuck with Hillsman and Mitchell. Rachel got 18 minutes, Khaalia 16. Jada only got a couple of minutes after the game was out of reach. Combined they had 6 points and 7 rebounds. Within that modest productivity Rachel had 4 points and 5 boards. It was good to see her hit two open jumpers in the first half.
- Being able to have Coates and Wilson coming off the bench, not to mention several other good players, makes SC very tough to play. The Carolina bench outscored the A&M subs 41-8.
The Ags return home to Reed for one game before hitting the road again. It's been a rough January (4-3 for the month). But it's over for the WBB team. On to February and March!
- 2PM CST, Sunday Feb 1, 2015... nothing else going on that day, right?
- Reed Arena
- SECN+ WTAW 1620AM
- #44 6-3 Jr F/C Tra'Cee Tanner leads the team in scoring (12.1 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg) and has started every game.
- #13 6-1 So W Katie Frerking started 13 games but came off the bench vs Miss State despite having a career high in scoring vs Alabama in the previous game. Her spot in the starting lineup was taken by #50 601 Jr F Cabriana Capers for reasons that don't show up in the prior stats. Frerking is also second on the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg).
- #10 5-10 So G Brandy Montgomery has started 18 games and is second in scoring (11.0 ppg)
- #40 5-10 So G Khady Dieng has started 17 games and averages 5.8 ppg.
- #25 5-8 Fr G Neydja Petithomme seems to have taken over the starting PG position in the last 5 games from #22 5-9 Sr G Kiani Parker. Petithomme and Parker have very similar stats in assists, turnovers, and steals. Petithomme scores more and is presumably the future.