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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

A&M clinches regular season title, makes history

WBB+SEC+Champions
via Twitter @AggieWBB
WBB SEC Champions

A dominant third quarter performance pushed the No. 3 Texas A&M women’s basketball team past the finish line and into the history books.
The Aggies clinched their first SEC regular season title in program history with a 65-57 win over No. 5 South Carolina. This win puts the Aggies in a league of their own when it comes to ranked wins, with a perfect 9-0 record against ranked opponents that is good for the most in the nation.
A&M and South Carolina started the game battling for not only the championship, but a boost to their resumes with SEC and NCAA tournament seeding on the line. The women’s basketball committee revealed on Sunday that both the Aggies and the Gamecocks have been picked as No. 1 seeds with A&M at No. 3 and South Carolina at No. 4 in their latest top-16 ranking.
“Women’s basketball needed a game like this,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. “We’re the two best teams in the SEC and we’ve had to prove it night in and night out with different schemes brought against us or brought against South Carolina. Now it’s up to both of us to throw this season away and start all over again at the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament.”
Heading into Sunday’s game, the Aggies knew controlling the Gamecocks’ sophomore forward Aliyah Boston on both offense and defense would be the key to their success. The Aggies did just that in the first quarter, only allowing her one basket and forcing her to the bench with an early foul.
“Both of us were trying to monitor our situations at the five position, but one thing we wanted to make sure [is that] we were still going to attack Boston,” Blair said. “[Senior centers Ciera Johnson and Anna Dreimane] did an outstanding job in there. Sometimes I had to go small ball, but, as usual, my guards were making good decisions and we were not living and dying by the three.”
Senior forward N’dea Jones led the Aggies through the first, scoring eight points and grabbing five boards. Jones finished the game with 16 points and 14 rebounds — her 14th double-double of the season.
Jones, who became A&M’s all-time leader in rebounds during the game, said she hasn’t begun to process this milestone yet.
“Honestly when it happened I didn’t even know it happened, I was just worried about getting back on defense,” Jones said. “It feels pretty good but I’m really happy that my team won. They needed the extra possessions I was able to give them, especially from Ciera [Johnson] and I … tipping the rebound to each other to try and help each other out.”
With A&M up only 35-34 at the end of the second, the Aggies charged out of half time on a 17-3 run. Sophomore guard Jordan Nixon highlighted A&M’s third quarter performance with two timely three-pointers from the top of the key, one of which gave A&M its game-high 15-point lead.
“What I love about Jordan is she’s super calm,” senior center Anna Dreimane said. “When things start to get out of hand and people get emotional, she just always takes a step back and brings us all down and I love that about Jordan.”
Johnson picked up her third foul of the game halfway through the third quarter and was substituted out for Dreimane, the Aggies’ 6-foot-5 center. Dreimane performed well, helping A&M keep Boston scoreless in the third and coming up with two big blocked shots to kickstart the fourth quarter for the Aggies.
“Honestly I just try to go in and do my best,” Dreimane said. “I take great pride in defense so that’s my focus when I go in. I’m so glad that that’s how it went today and that it was a huge game and a huge win. I’m just so happy.”
Four Aggies scored in double figures, and senior guard Aaliyah Wilson led the pack with 16. Jones followed with 16, just ahead of Nixon with 11 and senior guard Kayla Wells with 10.
Wilson said the balance of her team is what makes the Aggies a difficult opponent.
“Everybody on the team has something they’re good at or can do,” WIlson said. “I think that’s what makes us so good. No team can just cut us off because every player brings something to the table.”
Next, the Aggies will enter the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 seed for the first time in program history on March 5 in Greenville, S.C.

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