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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 hoops comes up short in thriller against South Carolina

Courtney+Walker+had+23+points+and+7+rebounds+against+South+Carolina%2C+both+of+which+led+the+team.
Photo by Photo by: Morgan Engel

Courtney Walker had 23 points and 7 rebounds against South Carolina, both of which led the team.

The last time the No. 10 Texas A&M women’s basketball team squared off against No. 2 South Carolina, they left the Palmetto State with a devastating one-point loss.

What transpired on Sunday was a similar tightly-contested affair that featured multiple momentum swings and nine lead changes, but the Gamecocks (21-0, 9-0) came out on top once again, defeating the Aggies 70-63 in front 8,511 boisterous fans at Reed Arena.

“Folks, that’s as good as we can do, it just wasn’t good enough,” A&M head coach Gary Blair said after the game. “Turnovers were huge, and we butchered a couple of transition layups.”

Courtney Walker led the scoring charge for A&M with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while Jordan Jones fell one assist short of a double-double with 11 points to go along with nine assists. Courtney Williams, making her first start since sitting out the Missouri game with a back injury, also pitched in 13 points.

The Gamecocks controlled the first few minutes of the game, as the Aggies (15-6, 5-3) struggled to find an answer to their size and physicality inside. South Carolina used six offensive rebounds to repeatedly get second and sometimes third-chance opportunities. They went up by as much as eight in the opening quarter, with forward A’ja Wilson scoring nine points.

However, the Aggies managed to flip the script in the second period. They scored the first 13 points of the quarter, catalyzed in large part by Courtney Williams’ eight points. A&M also displayed a stifling defense, forcing six South Carolina turnovers.

“They were capitalizing on our inability to make completed passes,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “We turned the ball over a lot in that stretch and they made us pay for it.”

In the middle of several Aggie runs, the Texas A&M fans were on their feet in full support of their team. It was arguably the loudest home crowd that the Aggies have had all season, and their players took notice.

“I think the crowd was huge, we had a nice turnout tonight,” Williams said. “We were really excited about it, really fired up. Every time we went on a run, I think we just fed off of that.”

The Aggies stretched the lead to ten midway through the second quarter and seemed to have everything going their way, but instead of continuing to extend the lead, a few key mistakes allowed the Gamecocks to get back into the game.

“We had several possessions in a row where we turned the ball over,” Walker said. “It could have gone to an eight or ten point lead as opposed to being tied.”

But after the Aggies took a 31-25 lead into the intermission, the Gamecocks turned to Wilson and guard Tiffany Mitchell—Blair called the two players the best tandem in the country— to bring them back. With the offense running through that duo on seemingly every possession, South Carolina stormed back to take the lead.

Wilson ended with a game-high 27 points and also grabbed 10 boards while Mitchell added 20 points of her own.

Chelsea Jennings tickled the twine on a three-pointer as time ran out in the third, but the Aggies couldn’t mount a comeback and eventually succumbed to the Gamecocks, who remained undefeated.

The victory gives the Gamecocks a three-game lead in the conference standings that is likely too daunting for anyone to overcome, but the Aggies will still focus on improving the best they can for the remainder of the season.

A&M will try to get back on track on Feb. 4 when they travel to Florida to take on the Gators.

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