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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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Aggies find redemption in homecoming blowout

The+maroon+and+white+opened+their+season+on+the+night+of+Wednesday%2C+Nov.+4+with+an+exhibition+game+against+Oklahoma+Baptist.+The+Aggies+took+an+early+lead+which+the+Bison+were+never+able+to+recover+from.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

The maroon and white opened their season on the night of Wednesday, Nov. 4 with an exhibition game against Oklahoma Baptist. The Aggies took an early lead which the Bison were never able to recover from. 

After 221 days, the wait is finally over.
The Texas A&M women’s basketball team returned to Reed Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 3, to kick off its 2021-2022 schedule. The exhibition match, played against the Oklahoma Baptist Bison, marked the first game of A&M head coach Gary Blair’s final season with the Aggies.
Even more notably, the contest acted as the Aggies’ first step on a long road toward their ultimate goal: redemption.
After losing to then-No. 11 Arizona in the Sweet 16 of the most recent NCAA Tournament, graduate guard Kayla Wells said A&M’s next appearance on the court — its exhibition against the Bison — was a showcase of the team’s return to fundamentals in its playing style while garnering crucial gametime experience.
“We go against each other all the time in practice. I’m not saying it gets boring, but it does get boring,” Wells said. “It was fun to … come out and compete against someone other than ourselves.”
So when the Aggies took the first lead of the game with a 3-pointer by graduate guard Destiny Pitts, fans in Reed Arena were less than surprised. In fact, the courtside atmosphere instead became audibly louder, albeit sarcastically, when the Bison finally managed to break their scoring drought — a feat that took 22 total shots to accomplish and did not come until partway through the second period.
Even in its dominant 89-38 victory, the maroon and white started slower than is typically expected from the team, posting a 37 percent field goal shooting percentage at the end of the first period. But the Aggies already held a 20-point lead, creating an insurmountable deficit the Bison proved incapable of overcoming.
A&M’s large offensive margin held over Oklahoma Baptist was captained by freshman forward Jada Malone, who led the team with 14 points — 10 of which came in the second half alone. As a freshman, Malone said she easily could celebrate her personal successes in her first collegiate game, but said she instead chose to focus on the group dynamic as a whole.
“We love each other like sisters; we fight like sisters. We’re a family,” Malone said. “So having chemistry is really going to push us far this season.”
The Bison managed to reach the scoreboard with just over nine minutes left in the first half, opening the door for improvement before the break. The visiting team’s shooting percentage moved from 0.00 to 16.67 percent during this time, but A&M’s also rose to just under a 50-50 split.
The maroon and white outshot its opposition by only three points in the second period, holding the score at 41-18 going into halftime. Though this was markedly different from A&M’s 20-0 performance in the first, Blair said the team never lost focus. Instead, the team used halftime to analyze position placements and make adjustments that worked to the Aggies’ advantage, though the Bison also did the same, Blair said.
“We both knew what the other team was going to do. They want to zone us, and we were going to zone them,” Blair said. “It allowed us to work a little bit on our matchups — a little bit on our run-and-jump. We were able to basket attack.”
Oklahoma Baptist scored first in the second half, nailing two consecutive free throws, but a jumper by Wells put A&M back on the offensive, allowing junior guard Jordan Nixon to drop a dime from outside the 3-point line just seconds later.
From there, the Aggies went on a 17-point streak, with the Bison unable to find the basket during that time. This control of the game carried into the fourth. A&M tacked on another 21 points in the game’s final period, including another three by Pitts, to lock the final score at 89-38 in favor of the Aggies.
Perhaps the maroon and white’s biggest strength of the night came in its ability to guard its opposition outside the line. The Bison made only two 3-pointers all night across 19 attempts. However, this seemingly acted as a double-edged sword, as the Aggies were also held to a mere 28.6 percent shooting average on threes.
Wells said she sees this aspect of the team’s gameplay as both something to celebrate as well as something to improve in the future.
“We did a really good job of defending, trying to take their space away and not giving them open shots,” Wells said. “That was one of our goals when we were in the locker room. We didn’t want to give up any shots, but also, on the other end … not all of our shots dropped.”
In addition to the score, A&M bested Oklahoma Baptist in nearly every other category, including assists, 20-8; rebounds, 61-40; points in the paint, 56-8; and free throw percentages, 68.4-66.7.
The Aggies will take the weekend off before returning to action on Tuesday, Nov. 9, to face A&M-Corpus Christi in what will be A&M’s first official campaign match of the season. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Reed Arena.
With first-game jitters out of the way, Blair said he is confident in his team’s ability to develop and prepare before the season opener.
“It just takes time,” Blair said. “That’s what [basketball in] November is all about. We’re going to have our hands full.”

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