Despite facing a strong opponent on the road in Tuscaloosa, on Feb. 16, 2014, the No. 14 Texas A&M women’s basketball team was able to set several new, important records with today’s victory over the University of Alabama, 71-46, on the road. That makes the Aggies 2-0 vs. Alabama this season. On Jan. 5, 2014, the Aggies beat the Crimson Tide at home in Reed Arena, 73-58.
Some new records are very exciting for the Aggies, who are trying to move up from a two-way tie for second place in the SEC. For example, shooters Courtney Walker and Courtney Williams have now scored in double figures for the 20th and 17th games this season. Today’s count: the “Court-neys” as Fox Sports Network has dubbed them, each had 12 points. Karla Gilbert now has six straight games in double figures, and she got 15 points today.
Jordan Jones was on fire with 10 assists, her fourth time in double digits this season. You have to remember she’s only a sophomore, so it’s even more special that JJ is now No. 9 on A&M’s single-season assist list at 167 so far. There’s plenty more games to go this season.
Alabama’s standout players were Ashley Williams and Daisha Simmons; Williams was top scorer with 19 points and 9 rebounds, and Daisha had 10 points and 4 recbounds. Nikki Hegstetter contributed 9 points and 6 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Aggies today. Kristie Curry was visibly frustrated but she’s a good coach who is passionate about the sport, her team, and every point meant something to her.
No one in Alabama is particularly excited about it, but the Aggie fans certainly are proud of the way their team played defense today. Bob Starkey’s teaching continues to pay off as the competitive and scrappy Aggie defenders have now held eight opponents to less than 50 points in a game, four of those in the SEC matchups.
The unsung hero whose deserves many praises is Achire Ade, who led the Aggies with 7 total rebounds and had 6 key points. Three Aggies tied for second place in rebounding: Karla Gilbert, Jordan Jones and Rachel Mitchell each had five rebounds. It is a joy to watch Rachel Mitchell gain skill, strength and experience at the post position with each game she plays. Coach Blair continues to speak about her tremendous development this season. Rachel only played for 10 minutes, Karla played 22 minutes and Jada Terry got 2 points in only playing for 3 minutes, which is great to see. It's hard for a freshman to see playing time when you have a senior who is getting the job done for the team.
The Aggies still have to figure out how not to give up the ball, as they had 12 offensive turnovers compared to Alabama’s 4. The difference in the ball game, though, was the depth and strength of the Aggie bench, where players came in and contributed 20 points, compared to Alabama’s 2 points off the bench. Now the Aggies were 7 of 12 free throws for 58.3% accuracy and yet they gave 14 opportunities for points to Alabama with personal fouls. But, when you're playing claustrophobic defense in coverage, you have to expect that number of fouls will happen.
The Aggie women managed to drive the ball well and got 44 points in the paint. They had to. The Aggies’ Courtney Williams made the only 3-point try, but it wouldn’t go in. There was only one successful free throw all game by Alabama's Shafontaye Myers, but the Crimson Tide at least tried 13 times from outside the line. The Aggies fought hard under the basket and yet they were just "close to even" with Bama, 42 to 36 rebounds.
Lots of work in store for the Aggies, who only have a few days to prepare for the busy week ahead. On Feb. 20, the Aggies will be on the road against Ole Miss. Then, one week from today, Reed Arena will be rocking as Kentucky will come to town to play the Aggies in a game to be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Don’t watch it on television. Come to Reed Arena and be a part of supporting your champions-in-the-making when they need the Aggie 12th Man the most. It has been and will still be the best entertainment bargain in town. Make no mistake. It does make a difference whether you are there or not. Your fighting Texas Aggie team deserves your respect and support. Gig ‘em Aggie women’s basketball!