The last time the Ags played Arkansas at their place, it took a buzzer beater by Achiri Ade to escape with a win. This game had a lot of classic trap game qualities: A&M was coming off of one of its best performances vs Georgia, while Arkansas had been annihilated by S. Carolina. The Ags had risen to #13 in the AP and #10 in the coaches poll, while Arkansas was unranked with an overall sub .500 record.
Unfortunately the Ags couldn't avoid the trap.
Coach Blair went with Hillsman, Lumpin, CWill, Walker, and Jones. Arkansas started with their 8th different starting group of the year, with Kelsey Brooks, Melissa Wolff, Jessica Jackson, Devin Cosper, and Alicia Cooley in a 2-3 zone, while A&M played man as usual. Despite the zone, the Ags were able to get the ball inside to Hillsman several times. Arkansas led 9-8 at the first media timeout. Both teams subbed out of the timeout with Rachel Mitchell and Chelsea Jennings coming in for the Ags.
Walker gave the Ags the lead with 3:30 to go in the quarter on a pair of FTs after following a missed fast break layup by Jennings. That was the 3rd turnover where the Ags couldn't score directly off of a steal.A Jones 3 pointer gave the Ags a 17-13 lead. But Khadija West and Brooks answered with Brooks drawing a foul on Jones on a tying layup. She missed the FT, leaving the score tied as the clock ran out.
17-17 after 1.
Brooks started the quarter with a 3. Malica Monk hit from the FT area to give Arkansas a 5 point lead. It could have been worse but Cosper missed a fast break layup. Arkansas missed another fast break a bit later but led by 7 at 7:15. Blair was using his bench at this point, with Curtyce Knox and Danni Wiliiams getting some playing time. Blair called a timeout when a 3 pointer gave Arkansas an 8 point lead.
Both teams did some serious bricking of their shots for a stretch of the quarter. But offensive boards allowed Arkansas to keep their shooting % in a decent range. Arkansas stretched the lead to 33-23 with about a minute to go in the half.
33-23 Arkansas at halftime. Yes, that meant that the Ags got outscored 16-6 in the quarter. Both teams looked sloppy, but I think Arkansas wanted to play that way.
Walker led all scorers with 10, but got very little help. Kelsey Brooks and Khadija West led Arkansas with 8 each.
The Ags started Jennings in place of CWill. Williams was hurt at the end of the Georgia game and was known to be recovering from a back injury.
The Ags seemed to be determined to get the ball inside to start the second half. CWill came in and got a couple of quick baskets to cut the lead to 41-36, but Cosper hit another 3 to get the lead back to 8. Jackson got it back to 10 after Jones failed to hit an answering 3. Arkansas went on a 7-0 run at the end of the quarter to lead by 12.
48-36 Arkansas, end of 3.
Blair tried a lineup with Walker, Cooper, Hillsman, Howard, and Jennings at the start of the final quarter. Walker missed a pair of FTs, indicating the kind of frustrating night it was. Jennings missed a FT too. Blair went smaller by bringing in Lumpkin for Hillsman. Khaalia came back in after Arkansas went inside to Jackson immediately after that substitution.
With Cooper running the point, the Ags cut the lead to 5 by the 4:16 timeout.
Cosper hit another 3 to stretch the lead, but the Ags pressure led to an intentional foul call against the Razorbacks. Walker only made 1 of 2 to cut it to 5 but the Ags got the ball. Hillsman was fouled on the inbounds play. Khaalia cut the lead to 3 by hitting both FTs. Pressure forced Wolff to call a timeout with 2:54 left.
Jackson drew a foul and made 1 of 2. Howard drew a foul on Wolff on the other end. Blair brought Jones back in with 2:16 left as Anriel hit 1 of 2. The Ags knocked the ball loose but Dykes was able to get a timeout before the Hogs turned it over. The Ags pressure almost got the ball again, but didn't get the call. The Ags got the turnover anyway. Jones fed Howard for a layup to cut the lead to 1.
The Ags stole it again, but JJ couldn't hit a 3 and Anriel lost the rebound to Jackson. Howard was called for a foul with 41.3 left. Jackson almost committed a technical similar to the one called on Barbee in the Georgia game, but her elbow didn't make contact. Jackson hit both FTs, but Walker answered.
Cosper was fouled with 25. 8 left. She hit both to make it 64-61. That gave Cosper a career high. Timeout Ags. Out of the timeout, the Ags missed a 3 and gave up a fast break by Jackson with 7.9 seconds left. Hillsman fouled Jackson and got hurt in the process. Jackson hit the FTs. Ball game.
Final score 67-61 Arkansas
The Ags just looked out of sorts for most of the game. The late run was sparked by defense, and to some extent a young Arkansas team having trouble closing out under pressure.
- Walker led all scorers with 24 on 10-19 from the floor, but didn't get enough help from the rest of the Ags. This allowed her to pass Danielle Gant for 3rd all-time in career scoring. Hillsman and Jennings each had 11, and were bright spots at various times in the game. But the whole team was inconsistent. A&M shot poorly overall, and was it was especially rough from 3 point distance where the Ags were 2-17.
- CWill was largely missing in action, which has me wondering about that back injury. She played a total of 15 minutes, of which 10 came in the first half. She didn't start the second half and after a brief flurry in the 3rd quarter, she sat the entire 4th quarter.
- Jones is still struggling to get back her consistency after her knee injury. It seems to me like it's more psychological than physical, as she is still quick as a cat even if she's maybe not quite as fast as before the injury. The more noticeable thing is that she seems to be in more of a hurry instead of letting the game come to her. 3 assists to 5 turnovers in just 10 minutes of the first half was not the Jones we expect. She was better in the second half, having no turnovers and 2 assists in 11 minutes. But she only played 11 minutes in the second half, going to the bench with 1:20 remaining in the 3rd and not returning until 2:18 remaining in the game.
- At 8:21 in the 4th Cosper gave Arkansas it's second 14 point lead on a 3 pointer. The majority of the comeback run by the Ags came after Walker made 1 of 2 FTs and Blair used an unusual lineup of Hillsman, Howard, Jennings, Walker, and Cooper. That group cut the lead to 3.
- Arkansas was led by Cospers' career high 18 points, followed closely by Jessica Jackson's 17. Kelsey Brooks added 9, Melissa Wolff had 8, while Khadija West also had 8 off the bench. Coach Jimmy Dykes had said before the game that Brooks had been nursing some injuries and that she was expected to play more vs the Ags. In addition to the 9 points, she grabbed 7 boards, including the one that iced the game after Danni missed a 3 with 15 seconds remaining.
Shorter version of overall: Ouch.
- LSU Lady Tigers
- 3PM CST Sunday Jan 10
- Pete Maravich Center, Baton Rouge, LA
- TV: SEC Network, Radio: KZNE 1150AM/102.7 FM
LSU is having a rough year. Our colleagues at And the Valley Shook have a midseason evaluation and it's not pretty. Depleted already by the dismissal of Danielle Ballard over the summer, long before the season started, they lost preseason All-SEC guard Raigyne Moncrief to knee surgery around Thanksgiving. 6-2 freshman forward Ayana Mitchell had already been lost for the season after 3 games. The LSU roster was down to 8 players, and Coach Nikki Fargas (nee Caldwell) held open tryouts in December, netting 5-5 Jr softball player Constance Quinn as a backup guard. Quinn has had to play 6.5 min/game.
LSU's went into Thursday night at 6-8 overall and 0-1 in SEC play. Losing to UConn by 46 is not so bad... even though UConn was without all-everything Breanna Stewart for that game. More troubling for Tiger fans were the losses to teams like Tulane, Samford, and Alabama.
So, of course, they crushed Ole Miss while the Ags were losing to Arkansas.
Coach Fargas has been doing something rather odd lately: she's bringing her best 3 players off the bench. So instead of focusing on the starters, here are what I think are the 5 players to watch (stats not updated for Thursday's win).
- #1 5-7 So G Jenna Deemer (9.8 ppg) leads LSU in scoring, not including the stats for the injured Moncrief. She dropped 19 on Ole Miss. Deemer is fast and likes to shoot 3s, leading LSU in attempts.
- #3 6-0 Sr F Akilah Bethel (8.8 ppg) played for LSU last year after transferring from W. Virginia.
- #20 5-11 Jr Tr F Alexis Hyder (9.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg) transferred from N. Texas.
- #13 5-7 Jr G Rina Hill (7.3 ppg) has started every game and leads LSU in minutes. She's a scrappy player who I remember as drawing a lot of charges and/or flopping a lot, depending on your point of view.
- #31 6-3 Sr F Ann Jones (5.8 ppg) is the tallest starter, and leads the team in blocked shots with 11.