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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Women’s basketball defeats Florida at home to advance to 16-6 on the season

Womens+Basketball
Photo by: Kevin Chou
Women’s Basketball

Texas A&M fed off a phenomenal performance from their starting lineup to fend off Florida 84-76 Thursday night, as all five A&M starters scored in double-figures, with three recording double-doubles.
Junior Khaalia Hillsman paced the Aggies with a team high 24 points and 18 rebounds. Sophomore Anriel Howard followed with 16 points, nabbing 10 boards and senior Curtyce Knox posted 10 points while dishing out a team-high 13 assists. Taylor Cooper scored an A&M career-high 16 points and Danni Williams added 16 of her own.
 “Everyone stepped up today,” Hillsman said. “We can’t have one or two people scoring all the points and I think it’s important that everyone stepped up today. Everyone on the team has been really working on their offense and that really transferred over to the game today.”
The Gators (11-11, 2-7 SEC)  shot better from the field than the Aggies (16-6, 6-3 SEC) and made four more field goals than A&M. The Aggies, however, cashed in from the charity stripe, going 23-of-27 from the foul line compared to Florida’s 4-of-8.
None may have been more critical than four in the final minute. With A&M ahead, 78-74, with 1:01 remaining in the game. Florida’s Ronni Williams, the SEC’s leading scorer, missed two foul shots which would have cut the Aggies’ lead to two. On A&M’s next possession, Curtyce Knox nailed two free throws with 37.1 seconds remaining to extend A&M’s lead to 80-74.
The missed free throws were just a small part of the frustrating night for Williams, who was coming off a career-high 43-point performance against Vanderbilt on Sunday and averaged 19.4 points per game coming into the contest. With the accolades rolling, it was A&M’s focal point to shut down Williams.
“Bottom line is: we did a great job defensively on Ronni Williams,” Blair said. “Our goal was to keep her under 20 [points], keep her under 10 rebounds.”
A&M’s defensive execution against Williams was superb, limiting the sharp-shooter to nine points and nine rebounds on just 4-of-12 shooting as the Aggies fully achieved their goal.
“Sometimes [Ronni is] her own worst enemy because she wants it so bad. She let frustration creep into her game today,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “She just played with a little bit of frustration which was forcing [her] a little bit. A&M puts you in tough positions to do that.”
Against a taller Gator lineup, the Aggies dominated the glass, out-rebounding Florida 44-28 as A&M posted 18 offensive boards.
The first half was a high-flying affair with the Aggies taking a narrow 42-39 lead into the intermission.
A&M opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 30-22 with 7:40 remaining in the half – forcing Butler to call timeout.
Florida slowly chomped their way back into the game, however, tying the match at 39 with 55.8 seconds left. A&M’s Danni Williams drew a key foul with 0.7 seconds to go though after a desperation three-point attempt and knocked down all three foul shots.
“We sort of faltered at the end of the second quarter when we had a pretty good sized lead, we let them right back in it,” Blair said. “Thank heavens Danni had those three free throws to give us a little cushion.”
The first quarter was fast and furious, with the Aggies holding a tight 23-22 advantage after the opening frame which featured five lead changes and two ties.
Florida and A&M were fair-matched in the opening minutes, with the Gators leading 12-11 at the 4:58 mark. The Aggies fought back, using a 6-0 run while holding the Gators scoreless for just over two minutes to take a 23-20 lead with 7.6 seconds left in the quarter, but Anderson was able to hit a layup right before the buzzer to cut A&M’s lead to one at the half.
A&M’s win over Florida was a good start to a three-game home stand for the Aggies, who now turn to facing Auburn on Sunday who sits just one game back of A&M in the SEC standings.
“I think this kick starts out the home stand,” Cooper concluded. “We’ve got Auburn coming up next and they press a whole 40 minutes and Alabama after that so we just have to worry about the next games and take care of business.”

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