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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Women’s basketball falls short against Notre Dame in Sweet 16

Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Freshman Chennedy Carter was named the SEC’s freshman of the year and holds the Texas A&M single-game record with 46 points.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Texas A&M women’s basketball team’s season came to a close on Saturday as they fell to one-seed Notre Dame in the game’s final minutes.
The Aggies came within four of the Irish after hitting their third consecutive three-point shot with 2:38 remaining in the game, trailing just 85-81. The maroon and white forced a turnover on the next possession and freshman guard Chennedy Carter drove the ball down and drew a foul with 1:40 remaining. Carter made one of the two free throws and cut the Notre Dame lead to three.
The Irish responded with an uncontested jumper by senior forward Kathryn Westbeld with 1:15 left on the clock. A&M junior forward Anriel Howard then missed an uncontested three point shot with 0:38 seconds left.
Trailing by five, the Aggies were forced to intentionally foul Notre Dame junior guard Arike Ogunbowale who sunk both free throws. A&M spent fourteen seconds trying to find a cavity in Notre Dame’s stout 2-3 zone. Anriel Howard drove to the basket and missed a layup, albeit ending the game. Chennedy Carter hit a stat-padding jumper from the elbow, which narrowed the Aggie loss to 90-84.
The Aggies were able to keep up with Notre Dame’s third-ranked offense in the first quarter thanks to 67 percent (10-of-15) shooting. The maroon and white were able to shoot such a high percentage due to the high volume of shoots taken in the paint.
Coming into the game, A&M head coach Gary Blair said that the key to the game would be the matchup between senior center Khaalia Hillsman and junior forward Jessica Shepard in the post. Hillsman held the edge over Shepard in the first quarter, outscoring her six to four. A&M scored 16 of their 26 first quarter points in the paint. The Aggies held a 26-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was a tale of two halves in itself, as the Aggies dominated the first five minutes, but Notre Dame hit the gas in the latter half. The maroon and white got out to a 37-24 lead with 6:37 remaining in the first half due to domination in the paint by Anriel Howard complemented by hot three-point shooting by Danni Williams and Chennedy Carter. Led by Arike Ogunbowale and the blazing hot shooting of Marina Mabrey, the Irish stormed back. Mabrey finished the first half with 17 points and five made three-pointers. The Notre Dame surge cut the Aggie lead to just one at the half as the Aggies took led 47-46 after the first half.
The Aggies struggled to make their shots in the third quarter which allowed the momentum to swing in favor of the Irish, who opened the half with a 12-6 run.
“They got the momentum in the third quarter. We kind of laid down just a little bit, energy went down, effort went down. We’ve just got to come out of halftime ready to play,” Carter said.
Notre Dame was able to dissect the A&M defense and get the ball in the hands of their hot shooter Mabrey early in the second half. Mabrey supplemented her three-point total as she netted two in the first three minutes of the second half. Many of Mabrey’s seven three pointers came via inbounds plays.
“They scored 21 points on inbound plays. That’s the most in history A&M has ever given up in their life. That was the three,” Blair said. “We were defending the three and half-court offense the best we could against a great team. But 21 points on inbound plays, that was the difference in the ballgame.”
The Aggies shot just 27 percent (6-of-22) in the quarter however, the silver lining was their ability to stick with the physical Notre Dame side in rebounding. The Irish held a 68-63 lead after three quarters.
The Aggies battled it out in the fourth quarter, but came up short, in a game that came down to the wire.
Seniors Khaalia Hillsman and Jasmine Lumpkin became emotional as they were subbed out with 14 seconds remaining in the game. Hillsman reflected on her four years at Texas A&M after the game.
“It’s just been incredible. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m getting a first-class education. I formed relationships I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” Hillsman said. “It’s just been really special. I’m just really glad I had this opportunity.”
The Aggies finish the season with a record of (26-10), picking up their most wins in a season since 2013-2014.
A&M will now look to regroup and rebuild for next season, and Blair doesn’t seem worried in the slightest that his team won’t be as talented as they were this year.
“What we’ve got to do as a basketball team is grow from this, get better,” Blair said. “I really believe we’re going to be better than ever next year.


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