The last Women's Bouncy Ball game before Christmas was scheduled for noon on Tuesday to allow players on both teams to get home for the holiday. At least that's the official line, but see below regarding the next game. The Ags were looking to avenge their early exit from last season's early exit from the NCAAs, but many of the perpetrators of that theft are no longer with the Trojans.
I took a long lunch break to take in the game at Reed, while running an update script on one of my servers that was going to take a long time anyway.
In the pregame interview, Coach Blair talked about needing to get Jasmine Lumpkin and Anriel Howard going, as we will need their size in SEC play. This meant that Chelsea Jennings returned to the bench and Lumpkin got the start. For UALR, leading scorer Shanity James remained missing in action. The start of the game was ugly, with both teams missing inside until CWill hit a jumper at the 7:23 mark. During the initial drought, Jones committed her first foul. JJ got knocked down trying to draw a charge, got up, and tried to reach in on Alexius Dawn. She actually tried to reach in twice, once both sides of Dawn's body before getting called. Dawn opened the scoring for UALR, getting the first 2 of her 19 point performance on the day by splitting the D between Khaalia and Jasmine for a layup. But the rest of the quarter belonged to Walker, as CWalk personally outscored UALR 12-6. This helped the Ags pull out to a 9 point lead even though Jones picked up a second foul at 5:05 (That one was hard to see, even on the streaming replay). Curtyce Knox and Shlonte Allen took over the point with JJ on the bench.
One disturbing thing was that the much shorter Trojans outrebounded the Ags 10-9 in the first quarter. Blair brought Anriel off the bench for Jasmine with 4:09 left in the quarter with specific instructions to focus on boxing out. After that the Ags won the boards 5-3, with Howard getting 3 of those. Rachel Mitchell and Chelsea Jennings also got on the floor in the first quarter.
15-9 Ags after the first.
The Ags maintained the lead, which fluctuated around 10 points (high 14, low 6), allowing Blair to give lots of players PT. A buzzer beater by Alexius Dawn cut it to an 8 point margin at halftime. The Ags got more players involved in the scoring as Jennings, Mitchell, and Howard got in the scoring column and Walker let others carry the load by not taking a shot and only adding a pair of FTs to tie her and UALR's Dawn for the scoring lead with 14. But Dawn didn't get much support from the rest of the Trojans.
Ags 30-22 at half.
The Dance Team was ready in the holiday spirit at halftime.
With Jones back on the floor, the Ags turned up the defensive intensity and also focused on getting the ball inside. Jones had a nice assist to Hillsman at 9:02. CWill had an even better one, a bounce pass wrapped around a post defender, at 7:31. The result was that A&M blew the game open in the third quarter, outscoring UALR 27-8. In the quarter the Ags hit on 10 of 13 FG attempts. UALR also was called for 8 fouls in the quarter, putting key players into deep foul trouble. Walker added 8 more points to her total by hitting 4 FTs and a couple of jumpers.
Everybody who was dressed, played (Darienne Serna has been in street clothes for the past couple of games). Walker's FG and FT early in the quarter got her to 25 points, just one basket shy of her previous career high (27 last season vs Bama). I think Blair only left Walker in as long as he did so she could get a new career high. She tied her previous best with a FG with 5:02 left and added a pair of FTs at 3:08 before Blair pulled her with the Ags up 30. By then, Sharde Collins, who was second in scoring for UALR with 10 had fouled out. Alexius Dawn would foul out with under a minute left. When Danni Williams hit a jump shot with 24 seconds left, it meant that 11 of 12 Ags had scored.
Final Score 69-39 Ags
On the one hand, this was the kind of solid runaway win you expect from a ranked team at home vs an opponent in a rebuilding year (and missing their leading scorer).
- 11 of 12 Ags scored. The only one who didn't was Curtyce Knox, but Tyce had 5 assists and no turnovers in 14 minutes as the backup PG. Overall, the Ags shot 52.9% from the field and were 2-4 from 3 point distance. Both makes were by Shlonte Allen, who finished with 9 points and 3 assists.
- After trailing on the boards at the end of the first quarter, the Ags finished with a 41-31 advantage on the glass.
- A&M dominated points in the paint, 24-10. The Aggie bench outscored UALR's 24-2. Although UALR only turned the ball over 11 times, the Ags converted those into 15 points.
- The D held UALR to 28.15 shooting overall; 3-16 from 3. The Aggie D committed no fouls in the act of shooting and distributed the 12 calls over the 4 quarters so that they were never in the bonus. Net result: UALR did not attempt a free throw in the game. Not sure if I've seen that before. The defense did look good. Checking the SECN replay after getting back from Reed, the announcers talked about how this should be put in the context of UALR leading LSU and Texas after 3 quarters, and being within 4 vs OU near the end of the 3rd quarter. But those games were all with their leading scorer, Shanity James.
On the other hand, there are some things I think the coaches will put on film for the team to work on after they get back after Boxing Day. Although a lot of that will be from other games, even in this win there were a few things that concern me:
- I'm not sure whether Coach saw everything he hoped for out of the 4 position.
- With UALR playing man D for most or all of the game, I would have liked to see more movement on offense
- Jones played very well on D, but got into early foul trouble again. This time she didn't commit a third, but there was a point in the 3rd quarter where she looked like she got bailed out by UALR calling a timeout. Jones only had 1 assist in this game. For the season, she's still averaging 5.6 assists per game, but her A/TO ratios in the last 3 games have been 5/5 vs DePaul, 5/6 vs OU, and 1/1 today. I think JJ is still working on getting all the pieces of her game back to her pre-injury form.
- Prairie View Panthers
- 2PM CST Tuesday Dec 29, 2015
- Reed Arena
- Streaming: SECN+ Radio: KZNE 1150 AM/102.7 FM
The last game of 2015 and the last OOC game is another midweek early afternoon game. This time I don't see the "got to let the players and coaches leave to catch flights out of B/CS" rationale. In this case, I suspect its about the realization that attendance during the break is low anyway, so why not make it easier for parents to bring their kids during the day? An evening game would also be competing with more bowl games on TV. As it is, Reed may be missing those who would rateher watch Cal vs Air Force in the Lockheed-Martin Armed Forces Bowl played in Ft. Worth.
Coach Blair is 5-0 vs the Panthers, and the program is 17-2 over the history of Aggie WBB. Prairie View shows up frequently in the A&M media guide under categories like "opposing team scored 10 points or less in a half", and "blocked shots by A&M in the 2014-15 season". This year's Panther squad is unlikely to get the upset, coming in at 4-4 and on a 3 game string of 20+ point losses to OK unranked teams (96-48 to Georgia Tech, 64-36 to Wichita State, and 79-58 to N. Dakota State). As with UALR, the leading scorer from last year's game vs the Ags was a senior. Probable starters based on their last game vs N. Dakota State:
- #11 5-7 Sr G Lamaria Cole (17 ppg/3.3 rpg). Cole, who is from Bryan, leads the Panthers in scoring. She has an overall .405 shooting percentage and also leads the team in assists and in 3 pointers made with 8. Cole was at Kansas before transferring to PVAMU. She played in last year's game and had 2 points and 3 boards.
- #4 5-10 Jr F Jeronia Allen (9.1 ppg/4.9 rpg) is a JC transfer who didn't play in last year's game.
- #22 6-0 RS-Sr F Larissa Scott (12.5 ppg/11.6 rpg) is second in scoring and is the leading rebounder by a wide margin. She did not play last season (I'm guessing that was here RS year) but had 13 boards vs A&M in 2013.
- #10 5-9 Sr G Monique Abbs (6.4 ppg/1.3 rpg) Abbs only played 2 minutes in last year's game.
- #4 5-10 Jr G Alexus Parker (10.3 ppg/6.8 rpg) is third in scoring and second in rebounding.