Without CWill, Coach Blair stayed with Hillsman, Howard, Jennings, Walker, and Jones. FSU Coach Sue Semrau stayed with Bulgak, Thomas, Slaughter, Brown, and Romero. The Ags scored first, but then gave up a pair of three pointers, one from each corner. A couple of charges drawn by Jones kept FSU in check early. Walker tied it up with her first basket, but that was the closest A&M would be for the rest of the game. A pair of turnovers contributed to a 6-0 run up to the media timeout at 4:58. The Ags went to a 2-3 zone that left FSU players open for long jumpers and Brown and Robero obliged by draining 3 pointers.
Meanwhile, FSU did a good job of playing aggressive D, helping out whenever Walker touched the ball. There were a couple of moments where it seemed like the Ags would make a play to change the momentum, but couldn't capitalize. For example, Walker intercepted a lob pass on an FSU fast break and triggered a break the other way. But Jennings pull-up went off the front of the rim.
27-16 FSU after the first quarter.
It got even worse in the second quarter. Jennings scored on a fadeaway jumper from the left side on the Ags first possession. Jones got run over by Kai James on the ensuing transition with no call, and Bulgak made a 3 pointer. A&M remained stuck on 18 points until the 6:22 mark, when a Walker jumper made it 34-20.
The Ags got FSU into the bonus with 6:16 remaining in the half, but got no calls to take advantage There was an a blatant missed call when Bingely hit Walker on the arm while shooting.
A driving layup by Walker allowed her to pass Takia Starks on the all-time career scoring list.
Florida State's Brittney Brown hit a buzzer beating 3 to end the first half.
Halftime score: FSU 47 A&M 26. Down 21 at half. The Ags shot just 12 of 32 to from the floor while giving up 17 baskets on 36 attempts. The Ags were outrebounded by 26-14. The combination of FSU aggressiveness and some abysmal officiating gave the Noles an 8-2 advantage in FT attempts..
The Ags opened the third quarter with better energy and cut the lead to 16 within a minute. But the Seminoles answered every time the Ags tried to get back into it and the quarter ended as a wash - which is not what was needed to cut into a 21 point halftime lead. Still, with several members of the men's team in the crowd (Alex Caruso was taking pictures with kids during halftime in my section), the crowd and the team weren't ready to give up.
FSU 64 Ags 43 after 3.
A&M got a stop to open the quarter and Rachel cut the lead to 19 with a layup. Defense kept the Noles at 64 for the first half of the final quarter as A&M whittled the lead down to 15. A chance to get to 13 failed when Taylor Cooper turned it over and Bingely converted a jumper after the Ags had played pretty good D for 25 seconds. A couple of aggressive moves in the lane by Chelsea Jennings got it to 66-53 with 4:13 remaining as the Ags went with a small lineup to press full court. Anriel fouled out with 3:20 remaining and Hillsman came back in.
With 2:06 remaining, Walker hit a 3 pointer to cut the lead to 10, and the crowd had visions of UNI redux. But that was as close as A&M would get as the Ags would not score again while FSU crashed the boards, got a turnover, and made FTs. Walker fouled out with 39 seconds to go. Romero put icing on the cake with a fast break layup with 24 seconds remaining, while A&M missed 4 3 point attempts in the last 2 minutes.
Florida State was clearly the better team on Monday night. The Ags fought to get back in the game but the hole was too deep... and the hole from the first half was more a function of how well FSU played than the mistakes that A&M made. Before this weekend, I was concerned about Bulgak and Romero. I had the impression that some of the first half defense was designed to stop Shakayla Thomas, who was held to 5 points and 2 boards. But I didn't appreciate how good the rest of FSU's limited roster was. Brittany Brown had a very good weekend. The team as a whole moved very well on D and boxed out. They were opportunistic, outscoring the Ags in points off turnovers by 19-10 and winning points in the paint, points outside the arc, and points from the FT line (thanks, refs).
With the WBB season over, it's time to look at the year as a whole and especially to appreciate the seniors who played their last game at Reed. I hope this class will be remembered for the good things they did more than for the expectations when they arrived as the #2 recruiting class.
Thanks for the memories
The senior class, the expectations, when you have to come in and live up to a national championship team, it's hard to live up to that. Each year, it hurts when they graduate and leave, particularly at the point guard position, that's everything to me. Give those kids kudos, they're all special and we're going to miss them
- Coach Blair in the postgame
- Courtney Walker had 18 points to lead the Ags and finishes her A&M career with 1,989 points, passing Takia Starks' 1,977. She led the SEC in scoring and carried the team in many games.
- Jordan Jones had 9 assists vs FSU and finishes her career with the Ags in third place on the all-time assists list. Only three Ags have 700+ career assists, including Jones at 708. She was credited with drawing 5 offensive fouls, and was on the all-SEC Defensive team for 3 seasons. JJ made people forget that she was coming off a serious knee injury to end last year.
- Chelsea Jennings was a joy to watch since her freshman season, but especially in how she blossomed in her final year. Coach Blair said she would be the most improved player at the start of the year and he was spot on. She had 15 points against FSU, scoring in double figures for the 16th time this season. She was the 6th man of the year in the SEC.
- If it wasn't for Chelsea, Rachel Mitchell would be the most improved player. Rachel had 4 points and blocked 2 shots in just 13 minutes on the floor. She ends her career with 116 career blocks, which puts her in 5th place all-time. Rachel is actually from the class before the others, having redshirted one season.
- Courtney Williams didn't play on Monday, having been suspended before Saturday's game. A lot of fans are angry with CWill and are saying good riddance to her. But that's not the sense I get from what her teammates and coaches are saying. She clearly hurt the team by making an unspecified bad decision. But in the postgame radio coverage, Asst. Coach Bob Starkey made sure to point out how much she contributed to getting the team through the season.
Next season will be viewed as a rebuilding year for the women, but unlike this season, where the 4 position required a newcomer to step in, next year's edition of Aggie Women's Bouncy Ball will bring back experience at every position. Khaalia will be the post and Anriel the 4 with Jasmine backing her up. The incoming recruits are guards, so the 1-3 positions could be new faces, but Curtyce, Danni, and Taylor return experience at those spots (and Shlonte, if she comes back after the suspension).
With another season over for A&M, I'd like to thank the GBH editors (and especially cuppy, who first asked me based on my FanPosts), for having me cover WBB again. See you in the Fall, I hope.