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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

An unstoppable force, a moveable object.

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Texas A&M forward Lauren Ware (32), South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso (10) and South Carolina guard Bree Hall (23) grab the ball during Texas A&M’s game against South Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

Texas A&M women’s basketball had the first quarter from hell against the worst possible opponent to go cold against in their 99-64 loss to No. 1 South Carolina at Reed Arena.

An 0-8 start from the field ended as a 2-19 shooting quarter, highlighted only by a pair of 3-pointers thanks to freshman guard Solé Williams and senior G Sahara Jones as the Aggies entered halftime down 25-8.

“I thought we came out timid,” coach Joni Taylor said. “I didn’t think we were very aggressive on either side of the basketball. You’ve got to be good at those things all the time, but especially when you’re playing a team that’s as good as South Carolina.”

Meanwhile, South Carolina entered the game with the country’s top scoring offense and lived up to the ranking: The Gamecocks shot 69% in the first quarter, 71% in the first half, and 67% for the game — including 54% from 3 and 82% from the free throw line.

The Aggies were not helped by the absence of leading scorers sophomore forward Janiah Barker and junior F Maliyah Johnson, both of whom were in concussion protocol due to injuries suffered against Tennessee and LSU, respectively.

“You’re down two forwards, which makes your rotation really challenging,” Taylor said. “Especially when you’re playing a team with that type of size.”

A&M is a defensive focused team, ranking third in the country in rebounds per game, and fourth in the country in scoring defense. Unfortunately for the Aggies, South Carolina has its own immovable object — the Gamecocks entered the night ranked third nationally in scoring defense and first in rebounds per game.

Combine that with their own 99-point unstoppable force, and the Aggies’ defense was the immovable object that suddenly became very much movable.

“The things they do well, we do well,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “It’s a cornerstone of becoming a great program when you’re disciplined [in] those things.”

Taylor has said this season that the Aggies’ identity is found close to the basket, with their key statistics being rebounds and points in the paint. South Carolina held the advantage in both of those categories, with a 42-29 advantage on the boards and a 56-20 difference in terms of points in the paint.

In response, A&M was forced to attempt an uncharacteristic 22 3-point shots. It made five of them. 

“We’re not a team that should be taking 22 3s,” Taylor said. “And when we’ve done that, it hasn’t turned out well for us. I think we took about the same against LSU. I thought we settled…in my opinion, the 3 was just the easy way out.”

A&M did succeed in forcing the Gamecocks into utilizing their bench. Unfortunately for the Aggies, South Carolina is fourth in the nation in bench points per game

“I thought they got us into foul trouble,” Staley said. “So they did a great job of making us go a little deeper into our bench but our bench produced today, and that doesn’t happen in a lot of programs. But for us, we’re fortunate that it does.”

Despite the scoreline, the Reed Arena crowd did not waver — an attendance of 5,924 was the second-highest of the season and the student section was the largest of the year so far.

“It’s what we experience a lot on the road, so it was really nice to have it here,” Taylor said. “I’m really grateful for our 12th Man and for our fans who are here every Thursday and Sunday and for our new fans that came today. I hope it wasn’t a one-time thing, the environment is what’s possible here every time we play.”

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About the Contributor
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
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