Good morning once more from beautiful Carnesecca Arena! I'm taking in warmups with about twenty of my closest friends (plus my husband), as we get ready for the consolation game between Tennessee Tech and St. Mary's. Blowing my theory out of the water, Tennessee Tech is wearing their home white and designated as the home team, while St. Mary's is in a much more flattering road red with very old fashioned shirts.
I like a player who does a little extra shooting, and Jackie Nared is out on the floor alone for St. Mary's, getting in a few lay-ups and shots. It was only a minute, but sometimes that means a lot. Now it's just a half dozen Tennessee Tech fans, a handful of St. Mary's fans, some arena staff, our ESPN3 posse, and the two of us.
At halftime, St. Mary's is up 37-23, and we're being treated to an excellent biddy game. Tennessee Tech went missing for a while, down as much as 24 and unable to hit pretty much anything. Then Jala Harris happened. There's a New York Life logo on the St. John's court, between the coach's box and the halfcourt line. She hit a three from that logo. I was wondering when they would give her the ball. Then they did. Then they pulled closer. Maybe you should give Jala Harris the ball more. St. Mary's had their chances to pull it out further, but they've missed a lot of shots close inside. Both teams are defending the offensive boards well, better than the defensive boards.
That turned out to be a better game than I was expecting in the second half. Tennessee Tech cut it to 1 with the ball, but they couldn't help but shoot themselves in the foot over and over again, and it got away from them in the last six or so minutes. St. Mary's and Kate Gaze made the big plays when they needed them.
Kate Gaze hitting back-to-back threes when the Golden Eagles were threatening broke Tennessee Tech's collective back. Seriously, who leaves an Aussie open beyond the arc? Lauren Nicholson did not endear herself to me when she jabbed Jala Harris in the, er, chest with an elbow. I was happy for Amanda Arter that she got to score a basket after the defensive battles she had to cope with yesterday. The rest of the bench really didn't do much.
Danielle Mauldin came alive in the second half. Someone must have yelled at her at halftime, because she was mixing it up on the boards more and getting points off offensive rebounds. Carli Rosenthal showed a bit of wear in this one- she was unpleasantly sweaty at a couple of points, and I'm surprised that Tennessee Tech didn't go at her more when she was so obviously exhausted. She bodied up early and often on Tennessee Tech, which I think threw them out of their game plan. Jackie Nared seemed more focused on pulling down boards and trying to hit her teammates with quick, sharp passes. She really does seem to play the game at a different speed than most of her teammates. Morgan Hatten didn't get a lot of good shots, but she seemed to make a lot of smart plays that you would expect out of a senior. Little things on defense and on loose balls that don't go into the box score. I would like to see a +/- for both Hatten and Mia Greco, because either Greco is having a really bad tournament or she's a defensive specialist.
Quira Demery got into this game, unlike yesterday, but didn't impress me- three first-half fouls and a noticeable fumble will do that to a reserve. Tia Nicholson's time was only at the end of the game, because Mariah Dean had an issue with her ankle brace and had to come out of the game to get it fixed, and since it was 15 points with less than two minutes to go, it wasn't worth bringing her back in. Both Kellie and Kylie Cook came off the bench in this one, and neither of them impressed me. Candace Parson should have known better than to argue that travel. If I can see your feet shift from section 2, it's a travel. Mariah Dean continues to impress me. She's got a lot of potential- she makes a lot of freshman mistakes and has to have those mistakes and tendencies sandpapered off of her, but she's got good instincts. By senior year, she'll be All-OVC if she sticks around.
I like Lashay Davis on defense, playing the passing lanes and getting loose balls. I don't like her shooting and shooting a lot. Diamond Henderson was MIA for most of the first half, her shots refusing to fall. She had 16 of her 18 points in the second half as the drives down the lane started to roll the other way and the three-ball started working for her. Molly Heady was nice on the boards- right at the start of the game, she got two offensive rebounds in a sea of three red jerseys. There's something I like about her. It may just be her stubbornness, and maybe it was just this game, but I like her. T'Keyah Williams played sparingly (I suspect Coach Davis may share my opinion of Dean). Jala Harris wasn't getting a lot of touches in the first half, and then she did things. She did lots of things. They went away from her more as Henderson got hot, and maybe that was a bad plan, but she was also in foul trouble in the second half. She didn't make some smart decisions on defense.
The officials in this game weren't necessarily the best refs I've ever seen, but the communication among the crew in making sure that they got the calls right was fantastic. They weren't afraid to consult with each other or to change their calls. There's a block/charge I remember with Jala Harris going into Danielle Mauldin; it was originally called a charge that would have been Harris's third foul at a very bad juncture, then was reversed to a block when the refs noticed that Mauldin was in the circle. We like to think we helped point that out from where we were sitting, but maybe the refs were just on the ball. You know the place is quiet when the players start to get weirded out by you yelling at the refs.
I thought Jim Davis was going to get himself thrown out. I also thought Paul Thomas might get himself thrown out. Those are two very passionate coaches.
After Tennessee Tech made that huge run, I was reminded how much I want to see the match-up between them and UT-Martin. Even with the performance today, I'm not as sold on St. Mary's.