It was another day game on a workday, but I didn't have class during the game on Friday, so I was able to stream the game in a side window while debugging some code.
The Ags did not come out like they were ready to play while LSU came out of the blocks at full tilt. The Ags were missing as badly as Auburn did on Thursday, while LSU was hitting a mix of midrange jumpers and layups that were the products of beating the A&M defense down the floor. It was 13-0 Tigers before Curtyce Knox drove through traffic on the left baseline for a reverse layup at 15:02. DaShawn Harden continued her hot shooting from last weekend on the next possession by draining her second three pointer to stretch the lead to 14.
The Ags started 2-18 from the field while LSU continued to shoot like it was a pregame warmup. By the 11:40 it mark it was 24-5. The good news was that there was plenty of time left to regroup. The Ags did regroup to cut into the lead before the break. But with the deep hole excavated in the first 10 minutes, the rally was only able to get with 11.
Halftime score 44-31 LSU.
Williams kept the Ags that close by leading all scorers with 11. CWill also drew several fouls on LSU players and was 3-4 from the FT line. A&M shot just 33.3% from the field while allowing LSU to hit 52.9% of their shots. Curtyce contributed 6 while Walker spent a fair amount of the first half on the bench with 2 fouls and was limited to 5 points on 2-8 shooting. Ballard had 10 to lead LSU, with Harden adding 8. The Ags won the rebounding battle by 21-17 but LSU wasn't missing enough to generate many offensive board opportunities for themselves. For the Ags, too many of the 10 offensive boards became badly missed putbacks.
Look in the mirror, starting with the head coach. Find out what's wrong. Get the answer. Compete. Compete
- Gary Blair before the second half
Moncrief picked up her 3rd foul on the first A&M possession, and had to go back to the bench, but Ade couldn't hit the FTs. Ballard stretched the lead back to 15. But then the Ags increased their defensive intensity and Walker cut the lead to 10 at 15:51 with a transition layup right before the first media timeout. Walker was fouled on the play by Anne Pedersen.
Walker got 2 quick fouls at 13:15 and had to go to the bench. I was surprised that Blair didn't pull her after her 3rd. Ade cut the lead to 8 on a post up move from the right side to bring the Ags closer than they had been since 2 minutes into the game. Harden drew a foul and answered to make it a 10 point gap. After Hillsman committed an offensive foul on a pushoff, Blair went to Jada Terry, who scored on an entry from Williams. Caldwell reinserted Raigyne Moncrief playing with 3 fouls. Moncrief had only scored once in the first half but she suddenly got hot and held the Ags at bay with a jumper and a driving layup of scores before Williams drew a foul on the Moncrief with 9:25 left. Moncrief returned to the LSU bench.
Jada cut the lead to 8 again with a putback of a Jennings miss. After the teams traded scores, Williams made a strong move down the left side to cut it to 6 with just under 7 minutes to go. The Ags missed an opportunity to cut it to 4 on the next possession when Jennings got an offensive rebound but couldn't keep control of the ball as she made a move into the lane.Caldwell brought Moncrief back in after the 5:44 timeout while Blair left Jennings in for Walker. After Ballard missed 2 FTs, Knox inbounded a ball to Jennings on her favorite spot on the left baseline. Chelsea swished it to cut the lead to 4.
But Moncrief answered by giving a little fake toward a screen in the middle of the FT line that caused Williams to give her just enough of a gap to refuse the screen and drive the left side for a layup. Jennings attempt to answer from the same spot on the left side that she had just hit rattled out. TV timeout. Ags down 6. Blair put Walker back in. Moncrief got penetration again and while she missed the shot, LSU was able to get the offensive board and get the ball back to her where she was fouled by Jennings. 2 FTs made it an 8 point lead with 2:22 to go. It seemed like that might be a dagger.
But Knox hit her second 3 pointer of the game 7 seconds later to make it 63-58. A&M timeout. The Ags got a stop as Jennings forced Ballard into a wild shot and Ade got a held ball on the rebound. Williams cut the lead to 3 by hitting a jumper from the top of the key. It seemed like the Ags might be able to pull it out when Jennings forced a turnover on the subsequent inbounds. There was a no call on Harden on the inbounds play as she fell over Ade who passed to Williams. Williams went to Knox in the corner. But Knox instead of passing back out with 25 seconds on the shot clock, Curtyce tried to force a drive down the baseline and ended up taking an off balance prayer around a double team. LSU got the rebound and Moncrief blew by the defense as it was getting organized for another layup and a 5 point lead with 1:13 left.
Ade missed from the right side and it looked like Jada Terry might get another putback. But Danielle Ballard showed why she's one of the best rebounding guards in the SEC by ripping the board from Jada's outstretched arms and drawing a foul. Ballard made both. Williams tried to keep the Ags alive by hitting a pull up J from the arc. But for the second time in the game she grazed the line with her foot and it was only good for 2. 62-67. 32.4 left.
Either way, it wasn't enough as the Ags had to foul and LSU hit their FTs at the end. With 10.1 seconds left, Ade hit the only 3 point attempt of her TAMU career to cut the lead to 4, But it was too late. Anne Pedersen got the last points on a pair of FTs.
Final score: LSU 71 A&M 65.
The comeback was good. It showed the character that we continued to play... but you don't get W's for that.
Our transition defense continues to bite us in the butt
- Bob Starkey in the post-game with Gabe Bock
- It seemed to me that LSU controlled the pace of the game from the start. LSU looked faster than A&M on both ends. The A&M defense improved a lot as the game went on, but as Coach Starkey told Gabe Bock, transition D was a problem. It was huge in the first half, but also broke down at key points to thwart the comeback. The speed was also reflected in some of the offensive woes, where Ags were missing layups by slamming them off the glass with the lack of control usually seen only from the fans who come down from the stands to shoot for prizes. Too much adrenaline.
- Williams was heroic in the losing effort. 19 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, a block and a steal against 3 turnovers. She played all 40 minutes. Knox added 12 points but is still learning to play the distributor role the Ags need without JJ. She had just 2 assists and 3 turnovers.
- A&M outrebounded LSU by 41-33. Achiri Ade led all players with 11 boards, followed by LSU's Ballard with 10. Khaalia Hillsman had 8 boards in 22 minutes, but struggled to convert layups.
- FTs attempted were close: 22 for LSU and 20 for the Ags. Given the need to foul at the end, the opportunities were pretty even, although my Maroon biases lean toward LSU getting some non-calls in the second half. But A&M shot 60% from the line while LSU shot 81.8%. The backcourt was 9/10 while the bigs were 3/10. Ade, who had been shooting better this year, missed all 4 FT attempts.
- All three posts played. Hillsman had 22 mintues, Jada 10, mostly in the second half, and Rachel 6. Jada continued to show that she has the best hands of the three, and that she has learned to pin a defender on her hip to get open.
- Courtney Walker started very cold and then played in foul trouble for most of the game. She was only able to score 8 points on 3-12 shooting and get 1 rebound. Walker made first team all-SEC, but she has had some rough games, where it seems like she's pressing.
- Chelsea Jennings had a pretty good game, getting 8 points in 21 minutes on 4-9 shooting. She did have a couple of defensive lapses: fouling a 3 point shooter in the first half, and getting abused by Ballard at least once in the second.
- Ballard had a double double for LSU, but in crunch time I thought Moncrief gets a slight edge for sealing the win for the Lady Corndogs. I found myself wondering what might have been had we been able to draw Moncrief's 5th foul.
Up next: Selection Monday
In the post-game, Coach Blair talked about how the team needs time playing together with Curtyce as the PG more than it needs to do drills. So his plan is to have the team do lots of scrimmaging vs the men's practice team next week. In the meantime, the conference tourneys will play out. While there are a few mid-majors who will continue to play into next week, most tourneys will finish this weekend. The Ags were projected as a 5-6 seed before the loss.
There is usually a Selection Monday party at the Cox-McFerrin center. We'll see where we go then.