WBB: When a 30 point exhibition loss feels fine

The A&M Women’s basketball team hosted the US National team as the third game of Team USA’s pre-olympic college tour. Team USA will play Oregon on Saturday and then take time off from college exhibitions until late January, when UConn (Jan 27) and Louisville (Feb 2) will host them.

The USA national team hasn’t lost to anyone in a long time, so while some of the fans around me seemed to hold out hope for the biggest upset of all time, this exhibition was about playing well and learning by competing with the best. Team USA had played in Reed before in 2007; both Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi talked about how they had been here before and how the town had grown (The team was staying at The George and I’m pretty sure there was nothing like that in town 12 years ago). The 2007 team beat the #11 Ags 74-25. That A&M team would go on to make the Elite Eight in what was then the best ever performance in program history

Team USA would score first but A&M would get the lead on a 3 pointer by Sham Washington. The Ags would hold onto a small lead through much of the first quarter but the difference between subbing in our bench and subbing in WNBA All-Stars allowed the visitors to take the lead for good in the first quarter. Team USA has size and experience that mostly shut down the A&M posts all night. Watching our girls try to move Sylvia Fowler in the paint was like watching cartoon characters bounce off brick walls. To their credit, the Ags kept battling in the paint. But by then the crowd was getting the answer to the question of whether Chennedy Carter could compete against this level of competition.

By the end of the 1st quarter Carter had 13 points on 4-5 shooting, mostly on drives. She had drained the only 3 point attempt she took. Team USA was up 29-26.

We anticipated that Chennedy [Carter] would be really geeked up and rise up in big moments. That’s sort of what she does. She relishes these opportunities. It’s all a matter whether you get a couple shots to go down early and you start a fire. That’s probably what happened. So, she had her confidence very early in the game.

Team USA coach Cheryl Reave

Carter cut the lead to 1 on a pair of FTs to open the second quarter. After she blocked a layup attempt by WNBA rookie of the year Napheesa Collier, the crowd was hoping the Ags could retake the lead. But Kayla Wells missed and after Carter went to the bench with a foolish foul, Team USA rebuilt the lead to 11. The teams would go into halftime with Team USA ahead 45-35. Carter had 20 points already.

Team USA opened the second half going inside and stretched the lead to 51-35. The Ags fought back to get it to single digits with 6:04 left in the 3rd, but then Sue Bird hit a pair of 3 pointers. The Ags got it to 12 late in the quarter but then Skylar Diggins-Smith hit a pair of 3s. 69-53 after 3 periods.

The closest A&M would come in the final frame was 12 on a Carter 3 pointer with 9:10 remaining. But to illustrate the talent difference, the last player to sub in for Team USA was Kelsey Plum, who just happens to have the career and single season scoring records for NCAA WBB. Plum promptly drained a pair of 3 pointers to stretch the lead to 20.

Coach Blair had promised that all 11 eligible Ags would see the floor, and all 11 did. With 33 seconds left, McKenzie Green got an assist on a layup by Aaliyah Jackson to make the score 90-63. Alisha Gray added a final 3 pointer to make it a 30 point win for the Dream Team.

As a game wears on, I think she had 20 at half, so, we held her to 14 in the second half.

After the game, Diana Taurasi joined the Ags in sawing em off as her teammates watched. The Team USA players hung around and were giving advice to the Ags. Despite a couple of scares, nobody got hurt and both teams seemed to be having fun.

  • Carter finished with 34 points, a record for college players vs Team USA in exhibition games. The record was previously held by Texas Tech’s Michi Atkins in 1996. Carter was 10-21 from the field (5-10 from 3) and made all 9 FT attempts. Chennedy also had 3 assists and a steal vs just one turnover. She blocked 2 shots, the one by Collier and another layup attempt by Nneka Ogumwike.
  • N’dea Jones led the Ags in rebounds with 10.
  • Overall Team USA outrebounded the Ags 54-30
  • Team USA’s leading scorers were both players on teams that lost to A&M in the 2011 final four: Ogumwike and Diggins-Smith each had 19.
  • What was most impressive about Team USA was how well they passed the ball without putting it on the floor. Passes arrived in position for the receiver to catch and shoot. The net result was 13-27 from 3.
  • As far as I could tell, the yell leaders didn’t use the BTHO yell all night.

Up next

  • Duke Blue Devils
  • Sunday Nov 10 2019, 3PM CST
  • Reed Arena
  • Streaming: SECN+ Radio: 1150AM/93.7FM

Duke opened their season with a 93-57 win over High Point University. While the Ags took on Team USA, the Blue Devils won’t play again until they face the Ags in Reed Arena on Sunday.

Last year, Duke finished at 15-15 (6-10 in the ACC) and didn’t play after the ACC tournament, where they were knocked out by Florida State. This year’s team benefits from returning several starters from last year and from getting star PG Kyra Lambert back after two years of knee injuries. This puts Duke ine receiving votes category of the AP poll.

Expected starters

  • #2 6-0 Gr G Heley Gorecki was last year’s leader in scoring (17.2 ppg) assists (116 total) and rebounding (7.1 ppg). She was All-ACC but has been hampered by injuries during her career. She was picked for the Pan-Am games tryouts but didn’t participate. She shot more 3s than anyone else on Duke’s roster, hitting 58-208/
  • #5 6-2 Sr F Leonna Odom was the second leading scorer at 13.1 ppg. Only took 1 3-pointer all season, which missed, so her scoring was inside..
  • #25 6-5 C Jade Williams added 8.4 ppg.
  • #24 6-3 So F Onome Akinbode-James only scored 4 ppg but was the leading shot blocker.
  • #3 5-10 So G Miela Goodchild shot fewer 3s than Gorecki, but made a higher percentage of them.

The 5-9 Grad Lambert came off the bench vs High Point and played only 8 minutes. She still made Sportscenter when her first shot attempt in 2 years, 7 months, and 18 days was a ¾ court buzzer beater that went in.. 6-1 Fr G Azia Baines played 22 minutes.

A&M is 4-1 all-time vs Duke. The teams first met in the 2008 team’s run to the Elite 8 as the Ags beat Duke in OKC in the S16. The next meeting was Danielle Adams’ A&M debut in Reed Arena, which led to an upset win. The Blue Devils won the second half of the home and home the following year, handing the National Championship team one of its losses. The Ags won both ends of a home and home in 2014-2015, but both games were thrillers. The Ags had to come from behind in Reed and it took OT in Durham in 2015.

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jimhu