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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Under the Tide

Aggies’ fourth quarter surge not enough in 78-71 loss to Alabama
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Sophomore F Janiah Barker (2) prepares to shoot during Texas A&M’s game against Alabama on Sunday, Mar. 3, 2024, at Reed Arena.(Adriano Espinosa/The Battalion)

After back-to-back road losses, the Aggies returned to Reed Arena Sunday, March 3 for senior day and a final regular season game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Aggie seniors redshirt junior forward MJ Johnson, graduate transfer guard Endyia Rogers, center Sydnee Roby and G’s Kay Kay Green and Sahara Jones were all honored with their families prior to tipoff.

“I was able to play for two great coaches with coach [Gary] Blair and coach Joni [Taylor],” Green said. “The love and support around here is what I will miss the most, the 12th Man is very special.”

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A slow start hindered the Aggies from notching the senior day win as they fell short in the final minutes to the Crimson Tide, 78-71.

“We can’t give a team what they want,” coach Joni Taylor said. “We gave too many open looks in the first half and then we weren’t getting to the freethrow line so it’s a lack of aggression on our part.”

In the first quarter, freshman F Essence Cody broke the seal for the Crimson Tide. Senior transfer G Aicha Coulibaly answered for the Aggies with a layup but found her first foul of the game on the next possession. Johnson, who saw the starting lineup for the first time this season, forced an offensive foul on junior G Jessica Timmons to put the ball back in the hands of the Aggies.

“MJ [Johnson] stepped into that starting role well and gave us some good energy,” coach Taylor said. “She was really locked in defensively and did some really good things for us.”

At the 6:04 minute mark, the two squads mirrored points with eight each after a fast break layup from sophomore F Janiah Barker.

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Senior G Sarah Ashlee Barker followed with a layup of her own to send the Crimson Tide on a 5-0 run with a pair of free throws from graduate G Del’Janae Williams to seal the run and increase the lead 17-8.

Redshirt junior transfer F Lauren Ware found a basket to cut the lead to nine. Sophomore G Sydney Bowles gave the Aggies some momentum after knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers to bring the Aggies within three points.

Junior G Tineya Hylton electrified Reed Arena with a 3-point basket of her own but senior F Aaliyah Nye answered on the other end of the court with a 3-pointer to hush the Aggie crowd.

Hylton went coast to coast to end the first quarter with a layup and put the Aggies within one, 22-21.

Missing offense put the Aggies in a hole in the second quarter as the Crimson Tide outscored the squad 21-10. Alabama benefited from the free throw line, making five trips to score seven points. Meanwhile the Aggies struggled to get to the line and didn’t see its first free throw until the third quarter.

The Aggies continued to fight as Jones opened the third quarter with a layup to cut the deficit to 10 points. Coulibaly snagged a defensive rebound and added another layup to give the Aggies a push. With a little space on the other end of the court, Barker found the net for another Tide 3-pointer.

A&M outscored the Tide 16-12 to end the third quarter but still found themselves down by eight points.

Barker opened the fourth quarter with a jump shot that sent the Aggies on a 3-0 run. Hylton sealed the sequence with a 3-pointer that sent the crowd into an uproar and turned coach Taylor towards the home crowd, motioning for them to stand up and get loud.

The Aggies continued to climb, taking a 61-59 lead at the 5:54 mark after Jones found a look from behind the arc. Jones found Coulibaly under the goal on the next possession to add two more for the Aggies and increase the lead to 4 points.

The Tide answered with an offensive surge that the Aggies could not answer or stop defensively. The 78-71 victory was sealed for the Crimson Tide by a series of free throw shots from Barker and McQueen.

A&M had absolutely no answer for Barker as she led the Tide with 29 points, shooting 3-4 from the 3-point line. Nye followed behind with 13 points of her own. Alabama owned the boards out rebounding the Aggies 43-29 on the glass.

“She’s [Sarah Ashlee Barker] a great player and she comes from Joni [Taylor] so she was taught well,” Green said. “We just could not stop her and we have to do better guarding the three [3-point line].”

Coulibaly led the Aggies with 19 points, five assists and three steals. Barker added 15 points, two assists and one steal. Bowles shot 3-7 from the 3-point line, adding 10 points for the squad.

“We’re starting to figure out how to play without Endyia [Rogers],” coach Taylor said. “In terms of lack of turnovers, we are handling the ball better and getting into a bit of a chemistry groove so that makes me feel better but we’ve got to close out games.”

The Aggies will take on Mississippi State on Thursday, March 7 at 11 a.m. in the second round of the SEC Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina.

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