The last regular season recap is late due to a combination of the result being disheartening and my need to finish reading a dissertation before Monday.
A&M and LSU both entered Sunday's matchup in the Maravich Center coming off of two losses. For the Lady Corndogs it was two road games at Arkansas and Ole Miss. For the Ags it was one game at home to Mizzou and one star point guard lost for the rest of the year with a torn ACL and meniscus in her right knee. In combination, Senior Day for LSU was an important game for both teams. The winner would get the double bye in the SEC tourney. For LSU it would go a long way toward keeping them on the right side of the bubble for the NCAAs.
ESPNU joined the game just in time for the opening tip after the end of the (not) riveting Syracuse-Virginia lacrosse matchup. The starting lineup for A&M was Khaalia Hillsman, Achiri Ade, Courtney Williams, Courtney Walker and Curtyce Knox. Without Jones, the Ags started in a 2-3 zone. Or they would have started in a zone if the first possession wasn't a layup for DeShawn Harden, who beat Knox to the ball after Hillsman won the opening tip but knocked the ball too far toward the A&M goal. The Tigers would not surrender the lead after that. LSU usually plays zone against us and they began the game daring the Ags to shoot over it. The Tigers also pressured the ball early to test Curtyce Knox at the point. Khaalia Hillsman came down wrong on a rebound about 5 minutes into the game and had to go to the locker room. Jada Terry replaced Hillsman at the point. LSU came out fast and got to an 11 point 21-10 lead by the 11:59 media timeout. By that point the Ags already had 7 turnovers. A Harden 3-pointer after the timeout was followed by an offensive foul on Walker, leading Blair to sub Tori Scott for CWalk. It was part of a 17-2 run leading to a 30-12 lead by 8:32.
The lead swelled to 20. At 5:49 Blair tried Walker at the point. With a lineup of Hillsman, Ade, Williams, Jennings, and Walker the Ags cut it back to 13 by the 2 minute mark.
Halftime score LSU 47, Ags 35. A&M actually shot the lights out at 60% from the floor (12-20) and won the rebounding battle 14-10. But that was more than nullified by a combination of 15 turnovers (vs 6 for LSU) and giving up 5 treys to DaSawn Harden, who was perfect from behind the arc. The 15 points off 3-pointers were just 15 of her 22 first half points. LSU scored 19 points off turnovers to just 6 for the Ags.
Being down 12 struck me as being within striking distance if the team could regroup. And the Ags started the half by going inside to Hillsman, who scored on a second chance jumper in the paint to cut the lead to 10. The Ags got a stop and could have cut the lead to single digits, but Ade was not able to convert a layup. After Danielle Ballard restored the halftime margin of 12, Hillsman missed a bunny.
The chances for a comeback seemed to slip away when Walker turned the ball over at the 14:20 mark. Ballard was unable to convert on the initial attempt, but Harden was fouled by Knox after the Ags couldn't control the rebound. It was Curtyce's 4th, and it forced Walker to play the point again. Courtney Williams had a big scoring half, but the Ags couldn't close the gap at all, and in fact the lead got up to 17 as LSU got 8 more on turnovers (to none for the Ags) and 10 second chance points (to just 2 for the Ags). While Harden led the Tigers in the first half, Danielle Ballard had an exceptional second half, scoring 12 of her 20 points and grabbing 4 of her 7 rebounds after the break.
This game was not going to be easy even before Jones went down. But it seemed like the Ags played like they were more conscious of missing her after having a couple of days to think about it than during the second half of the game on Thursday. Of course, home vs road and LSU being a stronger opponent both factor into it.
- Jones traveled with the team and was hobbling in and out of huddles on her crutches.
- Williams led the Ags with 19 points on 8-10 shooting. Walker was also in double figures with 12 points. Khaalia Hillsman continued her progress by scoring 10. Despite the scoring, it was another subpar game for Walker, who had 8 of the 24 A&M turnovers.
- LSU finished with 27 points off the Ags 24 turnovers. It seemed to me that many of these came from getting flustered by the LSU press. Even when A&M broke it, there were several many fumbled dribbles from going too fast.
- In Monday's Bracketology, Charlie Creme has the Ags falling to a #6 seed... but has us hosting thanks to Louisville not being able to host due to a scheduling conflict at Yum Arena.
- LSU was only able to put 2,315 fans in the stands on Senior Day in a game with a lot on the line for both their SEC and NCAA tourney prospects. By comparison, a week ago LSU put more than 12K in the stands for women's gymnastics. Really?
Elsewhere in the SEC on the last day of regular season play.
- Kentucky beat #2 S. Carolina. The Gamecocks had already clinched the #1 seed in the SEC, and the Cats will still end up with the #6 seed.
- Tennessee rolled over Vandy
- Vic Shaeffer's Mississippi State Bulldogs wrapped up the #3 spot by sweeping Ole Miss.
- Mizzou followed their upset of the Ags with a win against Arkansas, holding the Hogs to just 11 points in the first half.
- Georgia ended their losing streak by salvaging a split with Florida
- Auburn got out of the basement by beating Bama to get to 3-13. War Eagle is on a 3 game win streak after losing 14 in a row.
Up Next: SEC tourney
- Auburn or Florida
- Thursday March 5, 2015. 25 minutes after the end of the 8-9 game between Arkansas and Ole Miss.
- Verizon Arena, N. Little Rock, AR
Wikipedia has a bracket posted for the conference tourney sooner than the official SEC website. As the 5 seed, the Ags still have one bye in the conference tourney. If the Ags regroup and get by the winner of Auburn vs Florida, we get the rubber match against LSU on Friday.