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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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Defensive battle at Reed Arena ends in loss to Vanderbilt

A&M gave up a six-point lead in the final minutes against Vanderbilt
Photo by Hannah Harrison
The Texas A&M Aggies’ Aicha Coulibaly (5) preparing to score during Texas A&M’s game against Vanderbilt on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)

Coach Joni Taylor and Texas A&M women’s basketball appeared unrecognizable in its start against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday, Feb. 15 at Reed Arena. The squad scored only four points within the first five minutes of the quarter and was out of rhythm en route to a 49-45 loss.

“Vandy did a good job of making it tough for us,” Taylor said. “Everytime we caught it inside there were hands and they came and crowded our feet to double us.”

Noticeably missing from the starting five was graduate Endyia Rogers. The point guard leads the Aggies in scoring and 3-pointers, averaging 12.8 points a game.

“You lose your starting point guard that’s played every single game,” Taylor said. “She’s our leading scorer and our best 3-point shooter so we knew it was going to take a team effort to make up for all the things she does.”

The Aggies managed to capitalize off of foul trouble to turn the first quarter around after senior G Jordyn Cambridge picked up back-to-back fouls, sending her to the Commodores’ bench. Cambridge leads Vanderbilt in scoring with 13.1 points per game and did not return to the court until the third quarter.

After going scoreless for four minutes, freshman forward Vanessa Saidu brought a spark from the bench and added two points to give the Aggies six points total. A made free throw from sophomore G Sydney Bowles and a driving layup from senior transfer G Aicha Coulibaly brought the Aggies within three points to conclude the first quarter.

The Commodores hit the court blazing in the second quarter, quickly extending the lead to 19-9 after back-to-back 3-pointers were made by freshman F Khamil Pierre and freshman G Aga Makurat. A scoring surge came from Coulibaly, who made seven of A&M’s 11 points in the second quarter to bring the Aggies within six points.

A slow starting game eventually turned into a battle as the Aggies saw their first lead of the game in the third quarter, where they outscored the Commodores 14-11.

“We just came out and had a different kind of lock in and aggressiveness,” Taylor said. “One of the things we did say at halftime is that we can’t keep giving them 3-pointers because that’s what they do well.”

Bowles sank a 3 from behind the arc to bring on the first tie of the game in the fourth quarter. Coulibaly continued to dominate, scoring three possessions in a row to increase the Aggie lead by five at the 4:19 mark.

In the final minutes, the Aggies found themselves riddled by unforced turnovers and ultimately gave Vanderbilt the road victory.

“In the last three minutes, they [turnovers] were unforced and rushed,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to manage the game better.”

Vanderbilt found offensive success at the 3-point line to edge the Aggies out, shooting 7-of-20. The Commodores also managed to score 12 points off of turnovers. The Aggies recorded 20 turnovers and struggled from behind the arc with just four 3-pointers.

The Aggies will return to Reed Arena Monday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. to take on the LSU Tigers.

“We know LSU is going to come in and their best shot is their second shot,” Taylor said. “So we’ve got to really focus on being more intentional about boxing out and taking care of the basketball.”

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