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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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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No. 15 A&M comes back from halftime deficit to defeat LSU in quarterfinals of SEC tournament

Carter+jumps+above+Florida+players%2C+as+they+reach+to+defend%2C+making+her+shot.%26%23160%3B
Photo by By Dalia Muayad

Carter jumps above Florida players, as they reach to defend, making her shot. 

In a close battle that ended with 25 lead changes and a perfect game by Khaalia Hillsman, the No.15 Texas A&M women’s basketball team defeated the No. 24 Louisiana State Tigers, 75-69 on Friday in the SEC tournament quarterfinals at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
Senior Khaalia Hillsman didn’t miss a shot against LSU. She went 6-for-6 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line, while having her ninth double-double of the season and second for the SEC tournament. Hillsman credited A&M’s guards for her scoring success, saying that they constantly put her in good position to score.
“I just cut to the guards. They give it to me in easy position where all I have to do is make a quick move. They’re not giving it to be in places where I can’t handle it. So, really it’s all of them,” Hillsman said.
These two teams went 1-1 in their regular season matchup against each other, each winning on their home court. The Aggies won their first meeting in January with a score of 69-59, while LSU defeated the Aggies with an 80-78 victory in the beginning of February.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth battle with each team fighting for an early lead. The score didn’t separate the teams by more than three points in this quarter, making free throws the difference in who kept the lead. Hillsman, Chennedy Carter and Anriel Howard made a total of seven free throws, while the Tigers made four. Howard shot two for the Aggies with a minute left and moved them up to a one-point lead going into the second.
LSU’s Raigyne Louis and Chloe Jackson shined in the second quarter and led their team to a 39-34 lead going into halftime. The Aggies had a hard time getting into scoring position during this quarter. They failed to score for approximately six minutes until Jasmine Lumpkin rebounded off of the Lady Tigers and went up for a layup with a minute left in the half.
A&M head coach Gary Blair said that after a rough first half they made some adjustments and was pleased with the way his players came into the second half.
“My kids share the spotlight. We made some halftime adjustments. We couldn’t have played worse in that second quarter,” Blair said. “They took it, they took coaching, they took tough love and came back and made good decisions. Those first two baskets gave us all the confidence that we needed to start the second half.”
The tough love certainly seemed to push the Aggies into gear in the third quarter, as Carter and Lumpkin started off the quarter early with two jump shots. This was the first time in three quarters that the Aggies scored first and they continued to defend LSU through six consecutive shots. A&M regained their lead in this quarter and showed no signs of stopping in the fourth.
Entering the final quarter, A&M was up 56-54. However, they would soon be lacking after LSU’s Ayana Mitchell made her presence known with three shots in the first minute of the quarter. This caused the Aggies to go head-to-head with the Lady Tigers, each fighting to get a stronghold on the game.
Carter and Hillsman would eventually gain control of the game after an abundant number of free throws and jump shots came their way. Carter closed out the game with four free throws in the last minute of play and advanced the Aggies to a nine-point lead that LSU could not match.
Moving forward in the tournament, freshman, Chennedy Carter said they need to come into the game with a lot of energy and focus because they are going up against a strong team like Mississippi State.
“To me they’re the best team in the country, coached by a great coach. We played them once [and] we just got to come out,” Carter said. “We know they play 94-feet defense, they press all game. We have to come out with a lot of energy and a lot of focus. So tonight, I’m going to rest and get ready for tomorrow.
The Aggies will move on to the semifinals and face the No. 1 seed, Mississippi State on Saturday with tip-off set for 4 p.m.

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