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

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

The Battalion

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Gary Blair’s last dance comes to an end

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Coach Gary Blair throws candy out for the last time in Reed Arena on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

After a long season marred by twists and turns, a 29-game stretch of hard-fought basketball, the final chapter of A&M women’s basketball’s 2021-22 season has come to its inevitable conclusion in Nashville, Tenn.
The Aggies lost to the tournament-hosting Vanderbilt Commodores, ending several streaks heading into the first-round matchup of the SEC Tournament.
Vandy had not won an SEC tournament game since 2015-16. A&M had not lost to Vandy since 2013-14. The Aggies had not missed the NCAA tournament in a non-COVID-19-shortened season since 2004-05. A&M coach Gary Blair had not had a losing season since 2003-04 — his first, and no longer only, losing season in his long collegiate head coaching career.
Despite beating the Commodores less than a month ago, 76-58, and extending the Aggies’ win streak over Vanderbilt to eight straight, A&M lost by a score of 85-69 to end its season in Round 1.
It was a tough and gritty game. The teams combined for 42 personal fouls and 39 turnovers, but, in the end, the home team came out on top in a reasonable fashion.
“This has been a tough year dealing with all the distractions and attractions of [retiring],” Blair said before the game. “The reflections back on my career, the notes, the letters, the phone calls, the interviews, I’ve loved every bit of that, but I would love it even more if we were winning at the highest level, which I’m used to doing.”
The leading scorers for the Aggies were a pair of graduate guards in Destiny Pitts and Kayla Wells; in their final games, the duo combined for 44 points. They end their careers in first and second place, respectively, in program history in career 3-point percentage — minimum 100 made.
“[Blair’s] taught me a lot on and off the court,” Wells said. “Off the court, he’s always going to be there for me, always going to try and create a lot of opportunities for me.”
Wells finished her five-year A&M career in fifth place on the Aggies’ scoring leaderboard and in first in games played.
Pitts, who had transferred to the program from Minnesota, said she appreciated Blair taking her under his wing as a transfer and giving his time and attention to his players.
“Seeing coach Blair as a role model, not only to us girls but to his community and Texas A&M, and other cultures look up to him,” Pitts said.
Pitts recalled a memory from the team’s game against Missouri when Blair tried to teach her how to dance.
“It was memorable [to me] to take that time out when he could have been more focused on the game,” Pitts said.

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