Coming off the big OT road win at Duke and facing TCU, who have a history of playing the Ags tougher than the series W-L would suggest, this had the feel of a trap game.
Coach Blair changed the starter at the 4 again, giving Anriel Howard the start. The other four regular starters, Jones, Walker, C. Williams, and Hillsman joined her. TCU countered with 6-3 Fr C Jordan Moore surrounded by four quick guards in 5-6 RS So AJ Alix, 5-6 Sr G Zahna Medley, 5-50 Sr G Veja Hamilton, and 5-10 Jr Jada Butts. TCU came out with a high energy full court trapping man to man D that gave the Aggies fits for most of the game. Early in the first quarter, Coach Blair adjusted the inbounds play to have Jones take the ball out. This led to a series of plays were either the Ags broke the press for an easy layup or the Frogs got points off a turnover. Clearly this is something that's going to be worked on in practice.
Despite the struggles to get the ball upcourt, the teams were close midway through the first quarter. It was 10-9 Ags at the 4:35 timeout and the Ags were up 16-14 with the ball when Rachel Mitchell deflected an entry pass and a TCU player couldn't save it at 2:41 in the first. Then Walker got picked off trying to hit Chelsea Jennings on a post pattern and TCU countered with a 3 by Toree Thompson. That was the start of an 11-0 run by the Frogs that ended with a buzzer beating 3-pointer by Thompson.
The Ags continued to struggle with cleaning up on the defensive glass as the second quarter began. Both teams struggled to score. After scoring 10 seconds into the quarter TCU went on a scoring drought. Jones pulled the Ags to within 3 with a 3-ball at Hamilton broke the drought by scoring on a back door layup. Walker countered with an end to end drive but then Alix caught JJ looking in the wrong direction and popped out from the left baseline to the top of the 3 point arc to take a pass for a wide open trey to stretch it back to a 6 point lead before the 4:30 timeout.
The Frogs stretched the lead back to 11 with 1:06 left and then the Ags clawed back again. CWill drew the Ags back to a 6 point deficit with 4 seconds to go with a 3 point play getting fouled on a made turnaround jumper from the right side of the key.
At halftime the Frogs were outrebounding the Ags. After Alix led the Frogs with 14 points, going 4-4 from 3. Both teams shot 50% from the floor but TCU was also 6-10 from 3 point range.
Halftime score: TCU 43 A&M 37
I suspect there was an interesting halftime discussion as it seemed like the Ags came back out onto the floor a bit later into the halftime War Hymn than usual. Chelsea Jennings got the second-half start in place of Howard, moving CWill to the 4. Jennings drew the Ags to within 1 at 7:27 with a strong drive leading to a hoop and a FT. TCU countered. The Ags kept the margin around 1 until Alix and Thompson hit another pair of 3s to make it 54-47. The Ags gradually fought back until the margin was just 2 at the end of the quarter at 61-59.
TCU started the final quarter with yet another pair of 3 pointers by Alix and Thompson to stretch the lead to 8. The 3 by Alix was her 6th on 6 attempts. Watching the replay, you can see how she brings the ball into the front court and then goes into the paint to set a pick. Unlike a typical pick and roll where the screener goes to the basket, Alix runs out to the top of the arc after setting the pick, leaving JJ in traffic in the lane. Wide open. Splash.
The Ags answered with a 9-0 run by seniors Jones, Walker, and Williams to give the Ags their first lead since the first quarter at 68-67. It was short-lived as another 3 by Butts and a layup by Destynee Hyves-Mcray restored a 4 pt margin at 72-68 at the 4:52 TV timeout.
The Ags clawed back by getting the ball into the paint. Walker tied it up at 3:08 on a pair of FTs after getting fouled on a reverse attempt. On the next possession CWill jumped into a passing lane and got tackled trying to run out. The crowd screamed for an intentional foul but the refs weren't buying it. It only gave the Ags the ball but Waler gave the Ags the lead with a pull up J from just inside the lane. Medley tied it a 76 with a pair of FTs. Jennings faked a baseline J from the left and took it to the basket to make it 78-76. Jennings got the rebound on a TCU miss to get possession with 1:22 left. Timeout A&M. Jones hit an acrobatic layup from the right side to make it a two possession lead for the Ags with 59.2 seconds left.
Blair went small on D with Lumpkin, CWill, Jennings, Walker, and Jones. TCU managed to get 3 chances and converted to cut the lead to 80-78 with a layup by Alix with 35 seconds left. That meant that the Ags could not run out the clock so TCU elected to play straight up and not foul. Timeout Ags 24.3 left in the game. 20 left on the shot clock.
Jones took the ball in the backcourt and gave it to Walker just inside the half court line. CWalk came in on the left side of the key faked right and split the D on the left. She fumbled the ball, recovered, and hit a short fadeaway to make it 82-78. Might have gotten away with a walk.
Final score: 82-78. Whew!
It's not what we didn't do. It's what TCU did.
we were both playing on fumes and heart and talent
They played better than us for 30 of the 40 minutes.
- Gary Blair
In the postgame, Coach Blair talked about how the Ags focused on containing Medley but helped too much leaving others open. Walker talked about energy and both Walker and Blair gave credit to the crowd, especially in the 4th quarter. The hangover from Duke was exacerbated by travel problems; Blair revealed that mechanical problems meant that the Ags didn't get back from Durham until Thursday afternoon.
This was a heck of a game to watch. Whatever flaws there were, the team played with a lot of heart to pull out the win. As I was leaving Reed I heard someone's Battered Aggie Syndrome manifest by complaining that TCU is an unranked team. Maybe, but I agree with Coach Blair that this is a team that could make some noise in the Big 12.
Up next: What happens in Vegas
won't be seen outside Vegas.
- California Golden Bears
- 2PM CST Friday Nov 27, 2015
- South Point Arena and Equestrian Center
- No TV or streaming. Audio via KZNE 1150.
The Ags head to Sin City over the Thanksgiving break to take part in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout. This isn't a tourney, there are 8 teams each playing two two games on Friday and Saturday. The Ags have the toughest pairings of the weekend, getting #21 Cal and #7 Ohio State in our two games.
California Golden Blogs season preview of the Cal women notes that there has been a lot of turnover on the Golden Bear roster, which has two juniors and no seniors. Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray moved on to the WNBA. Third-leading scorer and 3 point bomber Junior Mercedes Jefflo was kicked off the team. They climbed into the rankings by beating then #8 Louisville at Louisville, but the value of that win is tarnished by the Cardinals starting 0-2 with a loss to Western Kentucky on Saturday. Nevertheless, Cal is 3-0 with a game against Cal Poly on Sunday before facing the Ags. Against UC Riverside, Cal started a pretty big lineup:
- 6-3 Jr F Courtney Range leads the team with 20.7 ppg and is tied for the lead in rebounds at 7.7/g
- 6-2 So F Mikayla Cowling leads in assists and scores 9 ppg
- 6-4 Fr F Kristine Anigwe scores 13.3 ppg and is tied with Range for the rebounding lead.
- 6-2 So G Gabby Green 7.3 ppg
- 5-4 Jr G Asha Thomas 14 ppg.
Under Coach Lindsey Gottlieb Cal has been a fierce rebounding team, and they are winning the battle of the boards by 10.7/game. They're also averaging 8 steals/game. A potential weakness is that they've turned the ball over 18.7 times per game.