There was a lot of pink at Reed on Sunday Afternoon. I saw Coach Blair wearing one of the Farmers Fight Breast cancer T shirts while he was tossing candy to the crowd during warmups. He changed for the game. 5,631 fans included more than 500 students, which was probably the best student turnout of the year, and enough to get Assistant Coach Bob Starkey to contribute more than $1,000 to breast cancer research based on the pregame promise from him and his wife.
The Ags started fast, jumping out to an 8-2 lead before Florida Coach Amanda Butler called a timeout at 16:39 in the first half to sub out 3 of her starters. In that first few minutes, 3 offensive rebounds and 3 steals for the Ags made the need for change obvious. It was 12-6 when Courtney Williams picked up her second foul and went to the bench. It was 14-8 at the 11:29 mark when Courtney Walker picked up her second and joined Williams on the bench. When Jordan Jones went to the bench at 9:47 after a turnover, the Ags had 5 subs on the floor. Jada Terry had come in for Khaalia Hillsman, and Taylor Cooper had replaced Achiri Ade earlier. With Knox in for Jones, Chelsea Jennings and Tori Scott replaced the CW Network. The subs expanded the lead from 6 to 10 in the middle of the half, but then Florida rallied to cut it to 3 at 24-21 with 4:29 to go. By that time, Blair had brought Hillsman, Jones, and Ade back in. When it was down to 3 he decided to risk playing Williams and Walker with 2 fouls, mostly having the subs on D and the starters on O. The Ags scored the final 7 points of the half, the last on a putback by Ade of a Williams miss with just 2 seconds left.
For the half, the Ags outscored Florida in the paint 20-12 and on fast break points by 12-4. The Ags 10 point lead was despite only 2 FGs from the Courtneys, plus a couple of FTs by Walker.
Halftime score: 31-21 Ags.
A&M started the second half by stretching the lead to 14 with Courtney Williams playing aggressively. The Gators got it down to 8 with 16:12 to go, but that was the last time the lead was below double digits. The Ags gradually increased the lead despite what seemed like a flurry of scoring from Ronni Williams (3-8 from the field) and January Miller (1-6). In fact, while Williams, who played admirably with 4 fouls led the Gators in the second half with 9 points, Haley Lorenzon's 6 points were the next largest contribution to the Gators 25 second half points. The largest lead for the Ags was 22 with 1:10 left.
- 10 Ags played. 8 scored. The point distribution among the starters only ranged from 8 (JJ) to 11 (CWill). Off the bench, Jada Terry, Chelsea Jennings, and Tori Scott were important in that first half stretch when the Courtneys were in foul trouble. Jada was 3-3 and had a catch and finish that had Gabe Bock invoking Mike Evans on the radio. None of the starters played more than 30 minutes.
- The worst part for the Ags was the 18 turnovers. Part of it was good aggressive D by Florida. Although the Gators played 2-3 zone for most of the game, they extended their D into a press and judiciously trapped Jones a couple of times in the far corner of the frontcourt. But some of JJ's 7 turnovers came from trying to make too many spectacular passes for assists, perhaps overconfident from completing similar dimes against Kentucky on Thursday night. Jones was visibly frustrated at several points in the game. Still, when 8 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals is a subpar game for your PG, you've got a pretty good PG. The bar is high at A&M.
- Although I just praised the Gator D, the Ags did shoot 47.2% for the game.
- A&M won the rebounding battle 41-36. CWill and Jennings led the Ags with 8 boards each. Hillsman and Ade each had 6.
- Florida was led by Ronni Williams' 14 points off the bench. Haley Lorenzen was also in double figures with 10. Although there were some defensive breakdowns, the Ags held 3 of the Gator starters (Peoples, Needles, and Copeland) to a combined 2 points on a very late layup by Peoples. That's about 18 points below what those 3 usually contribute.
- Florida averages 4.2 made 3s per game. They were shut out from behind the arc on Sunday on 8 attempts.
- The Ags have now won 17 straight at Reed.
Some notable results from elsewhere in the SEC
- Mizzou, our next opponent, won at Vandy.
- LSU lost at Arkansas to put the Ags a full game ahead of the Bayou Bengals in the race for the 3 seed in the SEC. I don't think this affects the importance of the final game in Baton Rouge, however. Assuming an A&M win on Thursday vs Mizzou, if Miss. State upsets S. Carolina and beats Ole Miss to close their seaon, they will get the #3 seed in the SEC tourney and the winner of the Ags and LSU will get the #4. If, as expected, Miss State splits their final 2 games, the Ags will still need to beat LSU to get the #3 seed outright. A loss would create a 3-way tie, which I believe is broken by winning % among the 3 teams tied. LSU would be 2-1 (Split with A&M, Beat MSU) MSU would be 1-1, and A&M 1-2. So we still need to BTHO LSU on March 1, unless they fall at Ole Miss on Thursday.
- Georgia had what has to be one of the worst losses in recent memory, giving Auburn their first conference win of the season. It was a home game. It was their breast cancer game. They had moved Senior Day to this game to avoid honoring their Seniors on Thursday, when they expect to lose to Tennessee. And they only scored 26 points. Georgia had gotten as high as #14 in the AP poll before losing their best player to injury. Since then they've lost 7 straight games with the Lady Vols and Gators to finish the regular season.
Up next: Senior night
- Thursday February 26, 2015. 7PM CST
- Reed Arena
- SECN+ streaming; KZNE 1150 AM
Hard to believe that the last regular season home game is already upon us. The Ags struggled with Mizzou at their place and the Mutigers are a team that's dangerous if their 3-point shooters get hot. Senior Morgan Eye needs to be watched carefully, but she's not the only one who can hurt you from the arc. Inside, Jordan Frericks plays with hustle in the paint and had a double-double vs A&M at their place.
I caught some of the Mizzou-Vandy and LSU-Arkansas games on the SECN and ESPNU before heading to Reed. Mizzou got up early and then hung on for the win while the Ags were getting started.
Instead of highlighting the Mizzou starters, let's take a look at the Aggie Seniors:
- #35 6-1 F Achiri Ade. Achiri is the only senior in the starting lineup. She mostly plays the 4 but has played a lot of at the 5 when Coach Blair wants to go small. Coming to the Ags last year from Midland JC, the Baltimore native is leading the team in rebounding average at 8.2/game. That's good for a tie for 4th in the SEC. She's 3rd in the conference in total rebounds. Achiri has improved her scoring during this season; her scoring average in conference play is 8.4 ppg which is up from her nonconference average and her scoring from last season. Ade is a team captain and is praised by the coaches for her work ethic. Top highlight: hitting the game winner to steal a win at Arkansas this season
- #15 5-10 G/F Tori Scott. Tori is the only senior who's been with the team for 4 years. Tori's minutes have gone down this season with the development of CWill and Chelsea Jennings, but she has had a lot of memorable moments in her career at Texas A&M. As a sophomore she was a key part of getting the Ags their SEC tourney championship by shutting down Tennessee's Taber Spani in the second half of the semis. Last season there were several games where Tori saved the day. She's one of the fastest Ags and watching her run the floor has always been fun. She's often the long bomb option in breaking the press, as she did vs DePaul in last season's S16 game.
- #32 6-0 F Tavarsha Scott-Williams. Tavarsha arrived last season as a JC transfer from NW Florida State College. Tavarsha brings energy as a sub at the 4 position. While undersized, Tavarsha is a fierce rebounder (0.308 rebounds per minute of PT is a tiny bit higher than Ade's 0.304), and has great post-up footwork. Whether she plays or not, I always look to Tavarsha for the most interesting hair styling.
- #30 5-6 G Allison Chu. Allison was an all-district player in Plano but didn't join the team as a walk-on until last year. An SEC academic honor roll player, she has appeared in 8 games so far. Last season she had 4 rebounds in 9 minutes of play for an astonishing 0.44 rebounds/minute. This year she's only grabbed 1 board in 10 minutes. But by hitting 3/4 chances from the FT, she is the only player on the team whose scoring has increased by a factor of infinity.