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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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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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Women’s basketball starts 2014 campaign in Reed Arena Saturday

Jordan Jones, last season’s Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is one of four returning starters for A&M.
Jordan Jones, last season’s Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is one of four returning starters for A&M.

Seven and a half months removed from the loss to Connecticut that halted its run toward a national championship, the Texas A&M women’s basketball team takes the court Friday in its first regular season game of the 2014-15 season.
The Aggies, ranked No. 5 by the Associated Press, return all but one starter from last year’s 27-9 squad. A&M will bring back 83 percent of its scoring and 96 percent of its assists.
Head coach Gary Blair will have a team composed largely of juniors from his top-ranked 2011 recruiting class that came together after the Aggies won their first national championship.
Five of the six nationally ranked recruits from that class are primed to play a big role this season. Guards Chelsea Jennings and Curtyce Knox provide depth off the bench, averaging eight and 14 minutes per game last season, respectively. Forward Courtney Williams and guards Jordan Jones and Courtney Walker were all named preseason All-SEC and All-American players.
Williams, who is serving an indefinite suspension for a violation of team policies, averaged 13.9 points per game in 33 starts last season. The 6-foot-1 forward had four straight games with 20-plus points in her sophomore season, the first Aggie to achieve that since Danielle Adams in 2010-11. The No. 1 ranked wing recruit coming out of high school had seven total games with at least 20 points, including a career-high 27 against Arkansas State.
The Aggies will miss Williams’ offense during her suspension, but Blair said his team is prepared to handle the void left by the star’s absence.
“We worked on it all fall,” Blair said. “We’ve known about [Williams’ suspension] for a long time, it just happens to come in play once our season started. We’ve added Shlonte Allen to the mix, the junior college transfer who just got healthy. She was out six weeks with a stress fracture. She’ll be our combo guard.”
Jones, the 2013-14 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, leads the team on both sides of the court from the point guard position. Her 261 assists set a single-season school record and were fifth-most all time for an SEC player. On Feb. 27, Jones recorded the third triple double in A&M history posting 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the Aggies win over Arkansas.
Having started in every game in her two years at A&M, Walker has lived up to her billing as the top overall recruit from Oklahoma in 2011. The native of Edmond earned All-American honors after leading the Aggies with 15.6 points per game in 2013-14. Walker, who received votes for Preseason SEC Player of the Year from conference coaches, made 85 percent of her free throws last season — including a streak of 32 straight.
The Aggies also return four seniors in Achiri Ade, Allison Chu, Tavarsha Scott-Williams and Tori Scott. Ade will start as a forward in 2014-15 where she started 28 games last year. Ade pulled in 6.8 rebounds per game, second only to graduated senior Karla Gilbert’s 7.5.
“Achiri [Ade] is solid as a rock,” Blair said. “Tavarsha [Scott-Williams] is your energy player at the 4. So the depth is good. But the execution — who can score the tough basket against a good defense?”
A&M opens up its season at No. 18 Depaul, the same team that the Aggies beat 84-65 in the Sweet 16 of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
“What makes [this game] tricky is that they’ve had all summer long to look at the tape of the loss to us in the Sweet 16,” Blair said. “Four of their five starters are back, and we have got to figure out how to beat them again, on their floor.”
The Aggies do not play a light non-conference schedule. On Nov. 30, they will host No. 7 Duke, a game Jones says she’s had circled on her schedule. On Dec. 21, the Lonestar Showdown will be renewed when A&M and Texas face off in Little Rock at the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Eight days later, the Aggies will travel to Washington, where Blair has never won.
“Anyone can score against bad defense,” Blair said. “But can we score against top-20 teams — the Texases, the Depauls, the Dukes, the Washingtons. That’s where we’ll find out how deep we are in production.”
Tipoff at Depaul is at 6:30 p.m.

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