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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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Williams’ season-high not enough to stop Tennessee as A&M falls 75-66 in Knoxville

Freshman+G+Sole+Green+%2815%29+dribbles+the+ball+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Kansas+on+Sunday%2C+Dec.+3%2C+2023+at+Reed+Arena.+%28Ishika+Samant%2FThe+Battalion%29
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Freshman G Sole Williams (15) dribbles the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Kansas on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023 at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

Texas A&M freshman guard Sole Williams had a season high 20 points — but that wasn’t quite enough to match Tennessee fifth-year forward Rickea Jackson’s performance, as the latter put up 27 points in her last game in Knoxville, Tennessee as A&M women’s basketball fell to the Volunteers 75-66 for its fourth loss in five games.

“You could just tell that her last time playing on this floor, she came out with a mission not to be stopped,” coach Joni Taylor said. “She got it any way she wanted most of the night. But when we closed the gap at halftime you could tell she put the team on her back and wasn’t going to walk away without a win.”

The culprits weren’t familiar ones for the Aggies: A&M was able to limit its turnovers to 11 and shoot an uncharacteristic 47% from beyond the arc. Both made for welcome changes after the Aggies’ 29-turnover, 11% 3-point shooting performance against Auburn on Feb. 25.

What A&M wasn’t able to do was follow the same formula it did when the Aggies defeated Tennessee at home earlier this season.

Adjustments aplenty

The first time these two teams faced each other in 2024, A&M won the battle on the court by winning the battle in the paint.

In that 71-56 win over the Volunteers on Jan. 14, A&M was able to out-rebound Tennessee 43-34 and outscore it in the paint, 44-24.

Not so this go-around: This time, it was Tenneseee who held a 44-28 advantage on the boards. That’s not ideal for the Aggies, who rank ninth in the nation in both rebounds per game and rebound margin.

“They were tougher than us, especially to start the game,” Taylor said. “You could tell that they wanted it more. It’s atypical of us to get out-rebounded, but they came out on a mission to box us out and to get rebounds, it was very clear. We’ve got to be better about pursuing the ball.”

Sole going solo

Midway through the third quarter, A&M found itself in trouble. Within the span of a minute, sophomore F Janiah Barker and junior F Lauren Ware each picked up their fourth foul of the night. As they both headed to the bench, the Aggies needed someone to step up.

Enter Sole Williams. In the span of just under two minutes, Williams hit three-straight 3s — part of a run spanning the second and third quarters where she put up 16 of A&M’s 20 points.

With graduate G Endyia Rogers still out with a knee injury, seeing the freshman put up her season-high is an encouraging sign for the Aggies.

“[I’m] really happy for her, to see her come out and carry us,” Taylor said. “… Hopefully we will see more of that as she continues to get comfortable.”

The Aggies entered the night as one of the Last Four In in ESPN’s latest bracketology and will have one last opportunity to stop their slide down the bubble when they host Alabama on Sunday, March 3 for senior day.

“Everybody knows what’s at stake,” Taylor said. “Everybody is going to be playing for something.”

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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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