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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies blow out the Islanders in Game 1 of Joni Taylor era

Photo by Cameron Johnson

Senior forward Aaliyah Patty prepares for a free throw.

On a warm, November night in College Station, a new chapter of Texas A&M women’s basketball was opened. After the smoke cleared and the lights came up, for the first time in 19 years, a new head coach walked onto the newly named Gary Blair Court at Reed Arena. In head coach Joni Taylor’s first game at the helm for A&M, the Aggies defeated the Islanders of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 67-45.
A&M’s starting lineup had two newcomers on a team that ranks second-youngest in the SEC. Freshman forward Janiah Barker and freshman guard Sydney Bowles both got the starting nod, alongside graduate guard McKinzie Green, junior guard Sahara Jones and fifth-year senior forward Aaliyah Patty.
Patty is the most experienced player on the A&M roster, appearing in 28 games last season and making 23 starts.
“It gives [Barker and Bowles] confidence,” Taylor said. “She is the most experienced. That being said, she still has a different role this year than she’s ever had before. She was in the car last year, now shes being asked to drive the car, and thats a totally different level of expectation and responsibility.”
A&M opened the first quarter slow, falling to a 6-3 deficit. The Aggies retaliated with a 10-0 run to pull ahead 13-6, a lead which A&M would not give up for the rest of the game. The run was fueled by a 3-point barrage led by Bowles, who also led the Aggies in scoring with 13 points, 9 from the 3-point line.
Bowles was the No. 37-ranked recruit in the Class of 2022 and was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Georgia. She was originally committed to the University of Georgia, but she followed coach Taylor to A&M when she accepted the job.
“I feel like I did whatever the team needed me to do,” Bowles said. “They trust me, you know, whatever that is. As we saw tonight, they trust me to shoot the ball. Point guards, whoever’s getting me the ball, they trust me to shoot it.”
Foul trouble plagued the Aggies in the first half with 12 total personal fouls, three on Barker.
Barker, the No. 3 overall recruit in the 2022 recruiting class and the highest-rated recruit in A&M women’s basketball history, did not see any action in the first half after her third foul, but she did manage to lead the Aggies in rebounds, blocks and steals with eight, three and six, respectively.
“She puts a lot of pressure on herself,” Taylor said. “You want a player who puts that kind of pressure on herself, but she also has to understand that she’s so dynamic in so many ways. She has so much value that she doesn’t need to put all of her pressure on making shots.”
The Aggies opened up the second half up 12, but the Islanders stormed out the gates and went on a 6-0 run to force a timeout from coach Taylor. A&M answered TAMU-CC immediately, going on a 14-0 run to balloon its lead to 52-32, forcing nine turnovers in the third quarter alone
“To be able to hold them to six after them coming out and really dictating tempo, again it just reiterates that our defense needs to be our anchor,” Taylor said.
It was cruise control from there for the Aggies, as their lead stretched to as large as 67-38 in the fourth, with the final score being 69-45 to kick off the Joni Taylor era in Aggieland with a victory.
“It feels really good,” Bowles said. “You always want to start 1-0 with the season, but I mean back to the drawing boards. We’ll, in the next 24 hours, be preparing for a whole other team.”
Women’s basketball is back in action at home against Army on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m., at Reed Arena.
For more information on A&M women’s basketball, visit or find them on Twitter and Instagram @aggiewbb.

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