COLLEGE STATION- Four players scored in double figures for No. 20 Texas A&M, as the Aggies defeated Houston 83-65 in a season-opening women’s basketball game at Reed Arena. With the win, Texas A&M advances to the quarterfinals of the Preseason WNIT to face Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday, November 12 in Reed Arena.
The Aggies (1-0) jumped out to a 48-37 halftime lead, but Houston (0-1) closed the deficit to as few as four in the fourth quarter. Danni Williams hit back-to-back 3-pointers, keying a 16-4 Texas A&M run that put the game out of reach.
Williams led the Aggies with 21 points, one of four Texas A&M players in double figures. Khaalia Hillsman, who needs just 26 points to reach 1,000 in her career, had 19, Chennedy Carter contributed 15 and Anriel Howard added 11.
Carter became the first Aggie freshman to start a season opener at point guard since A’Quonesia Franklin in 2004-05. Her 15 points were the most for a freshman in an A&M debut since that same 2004-05 opener against South Florida.
The Aggies are now 40-4 in home openers, and have started 1-0 for the 12th time in the past 13 seasons.
· The Aggies advance to the quarterfinals of the Preseason WNIT, and face Louisiana-Lafayette at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 12 in Reed Arena.
· Texas A&M moves to 40-4 in home openers, and has won 14 of their last 15 home openers, including each of the last five
· Texas A&M is now 31-14 in season openers, winning 12 of their last 13 season openers, including each of the last five
· Chennedy Carter became the first freshman point guard to start a season opener for Texas A&M since A’Quonesia Franklin in 2004-05. She is the first freshman to start a season opener at any position at Texas A&M since Courtney Walker in 2012-13
· Carter had 15 points, tied for the most for a Texas A&M freshman in her debut since at least 2000-01. Ashley Bolden had 15 points against South Florida in 2004-05.
o Carter had the first double-figure scoring game of her career
· Danni Williams had the 10th 20+ point game of her career, and has scored 20+ points in each of the last two season openers
o She matched a career-high with five 3-pointers
o She scored in double figures for the seventh straight game and the 32nd time in her career
o Williams has scored at least 14 points in each of her three season openers
· Khaalia Hillsman scored 19, putting her 26 away from 1,000 for her career
o She scored in double figures for the 45th time in her career
o She has scored at least 10 points in all four of her season-opening games
o She had 10+ rebounds for the 21st time in her career
· Hillsman had the 16th double-double of her career tying her with Toccara Williams (2000-04, 16) for fourth-most at Texas A&M
· Hillsman had 3 blocks, moving her into a tie for seventh on Texas A&M’s career list with 96, tying Danielle Adams (2009-11, 96)
· Anriel Howard hit the second 3-pointer of her career. Her other successful 3-pointer was last year’s season-opener against Texas State.
o She had the 14th double-double of her career, which is sixth all-time at Texas A&M
o She scored in double figures for the 21st time in her career
o She had 10+ rebounds for the 29th time in her career
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
“In the first and fourth quarters, we did what we were supposed to. When Chennedy [Carter] went out of the ball game in the first half due to frustration, the second foul she got, our offense quit running the offense. That’s where I’ve got to have Lulu [McKinney] or Danni [Williams] be able to run our offense without turning the ball over. I think the turnovers at the end of the second quarter were huge and the other thing was, we had trouble the whole night stopping dribble penetration. We opened up in our match-up zone just trying to corral them a little which we were doing early and then, they just put the ball under their wing and went to the basket, spin, reverse. They even missed a bunch of shots that were wide open. Give them credit because they attacked us and that’s what you’ve got to do. We’ve got some things to work on before Sunday, but I was pleased with [the fact that] we had the four get in double figures.”
On Danni Williams…
“Danni’s been shooting the ball well. When you spend time in the gym and you get the extra shots, that’s what will happen.”
On Houston’s team…
“He’s going to have a good team. This is his fourth year. If they can dribble penetrate like that, they’re going to have a good team.”
Texas A&M Senior Center Khaalia Hillsman
On the speed of the offense…
“The beginning of the game emphasis was to start inside out, so to punish them on the inside with me and Anriel [Howard] and then work our way outside. In the second and third quarter, Houston did a great job of taking me away, but Danni [Williams] was already on fire, and she just kept shooting, which then allowed our offense to open back up and keep me open.”
On when Houston got within four points…
“We had to worry about our defense first. Coach [Bob] Starkey was telling us to take away their drives because they were getting every drive they wanted. They were so fast. They warned us about them, but I think we might have underestimated them just a little bit. They were definitely really fast. I think next time, we just have to be more aware of our opponent’s quickness because they were definitely flying everywhere on us. After we fixed our defense, we were running our plays and doing everything we were supposed to do.”
Texas A&M Junior Guard Danni Williams
On back to back threes in the fourth quarter…
“Coach [Gary] Blair had just called one of the plays, and I was open, so I shot it and it went in. Then I think Coach Blair was like let’s see if she can get another one.”
On game overall…
“I give a lot of credit to Houston. When they closed that gap at four points, I think our experience with Khaalia [Hillsman], Anriel [Howard], Jasmine [Lumpkin], and I really showed out there tonight because we played a lot of minutes last year. Chennedy [Carter] can play with us. She is going to learn, so I think overall it was a pretty good game for us.”
Houston Head Coach Ronald Hughey
“I love having the opportunity to come down here and to play against A&M and Coach Blair. Our girls look forward to it, so we are trying to see if we can make it a yearly thing. Hats off to them. What I told my kids coming in is they know how to win, so if the game is tight, we either have to go and take it or they are going to win the game. We knew [Khaalia] Hillsman would be a huge mismatch on the inside for us, but we wanted to keep attacking to get to the free-throw line and play as fast as we possibly could. We only got up about 65 shots, and we wanted to get up about 75 to 80 shots. Them getting back took away those extra possessions. Danni Williams, you can’t say enough about her. We talk with our kids that she has four-point range. You have to get all the way up and make her a driver. Chennedy Carter was the x-factor for them. Howard is just relentless on the boards. Every time we thought we had that possession, she would come up with it. [Gary Blair] knows how to coach, and he’s been doing it a long time and been successful. He has players who know how to win. You don’t get to this point in the SEC without being able to do that.”