COLLEGE STATION- No. 21 Texas A&M defeated Central Arkansas 72-61 in a women's basketball game Saturday at Reed Arena.
The Aggies (8-2) Took a 23-16 lead after the first quarter, but was held to 17.6% shooting from the field in the second quarter, as the Sugar Bears (5-3) tied the game at 29 heading into the half. The Aggies would shoot 55.1% in the second half to secure the double-digit win
Khaalia Hillsman led the Aggies with a season-high 26 points, 19 of which came in the second half. She went 10-of-14 from the floor to post her second straight 20+ point scoring game.
Anriel Howard tied Danielle Gant and Kelsey Bone for the Texas A&M career record with her 19th double double. She scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds, marking her third career 20+ point/10+ rebound game.
Chennedy Carter also reached double figures with 10 points. The Aggies outscored Central Arkansas 25-11 on second chance points and 20-10 on points off turnovers.
Texas A&M returns to action on Friday, December 15 at Southern Cal, with tip at 9 p.m. CT on Pac-12 Networks. The Aggies return home on December 28 to host SMU at 7 p.m.
· Texas A&M is now 8-2 on the season, while Central Arkansas falls to 5-3, with all three of their losses coming to AP Top 25 teams.
· The Aggies are 7-2 in Reed Arena this season, and are 61-12 at home since the start of the 2013-14 season.
· The Aggies are 153-5 against unranked teams at home since February 2005, and have won 81 straight home games against mid-majors.
· Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is 339-142 in 15 seasons at Texas A&M. He is 747-306 in his Hall of Fame career, which ranks eighth among active coaches.
· Scored in double figures for the 10th straight game. She is the only Texas A&M freshman to start her career with 10 straight double-figure scoring games.
· Had a season-high 26 points, which was one off her season-high, set on March 18 against Penn in the NCAA First Round
· Scored 20+ points for the second consecutive game and the 14th time in her career
· Scored 10+ points for the eighth time this season and the 52nd time in her career
· Tied Danielle Gant and Kelsey Bone for the Texas A&M career record with her 19th career double-double. It was her sixth double-double of the season
· Scored 20+ points for the second time this season and the third time in her career
· Scored 10+ points for the seventh time this season and the 27th time in her career
· Had 10+ rebounds for the ninth time this season and the 37th time in her career
· Has 10+ points, 10+ rebounds or both in every game this season
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
“We started off running our stuff. They were playing such a sagging man-to-man (defense) that we got everything we wanted on the jump shot early, and we had four assists, I believe in the first quarter. We had five at halftime. This was a ballgame I wanted to play kids a lot of minutes but again, it didn’t work out. When I subbed in, they ran their offense very well. We’ve got to do a better job, but we are not a very good defensive team. We’re making too many mistakes. We will get better, that’s all I can promise you.”
On Central Arkansas…
“Give Taylor Sells credit. She was the best player on the court today. We had not one single person that could stop her from penetrating and on the press situation she did a good job. That’s a very good sophomore. You have to understand, this team played without their second and third-best players, who were suspended. Give them a lot of credit for kids stepping off the bench, came up and did some very good things.”
On the offensive performance…
“We had 20 assists. We had a lot of people share the ball at the end, and I said ‘Let’s go inside until they stop us but be patient, reverse the ball. We can get some open looks for Khaalia (Hillsman) and Anriel (Howard).’ So when you do not have your best either game plan or your best energy, or you’re not playing well, quit trying to do something that’s not working for you, and that’s shooting jump shots and threes.”
Texas A&M Senior Center Khaalia Hillsman
On improving play…
“I just keep working. Sometimes when I don’t get the pass, I usually stop working, and I really give credit to my teammates for getting me the ball right when I need it. They’ve been doing a really good job giving me the ball right where I can just turn and score rather than having to wait and all that stuff, and I think I’ve done a better job of just continuing to work when I don’t get the ball the first time.”
On playing on the road…
“I’m excited to go on the road. I love traveling, so it’s really just going to be up to us to bring the energy that we need because it’s a whole different atmosphere when you’re on somebody else’s court. When we’re on our court we have the advantage because it’s our 12th Man fans, it’s our atmosphere. Once we get somewhere else sometimes the ref might not be leaning to our side, they might be leaning toward the home side, so it’s just up to us to bring the correct sense of urgency to come out how we’re supposed to.”
Texas A&M Junior Forward Anriel Howard
On her performance this afternoon…
“I think my play was a little bit more up and down. The first quarter I did pretty good in the paint, and then second quarter I started to go down a little bit, but after coming back from halftime, my teammates talked to me a little and got me back up, and we started making buckets together.”
On maintaining energy throughout the game…
“We’re not there yet. We’re going up, but we’re also going down. We fluctuate. We’re still trying to work on it to be consistent. It’s going to take some time, but we’re trying to get there.”
On a fast start…
“We started pretty good the first quarter and then went back down. I think it’s just more being mentally tough. Some people can call it fatigue, but I think it’s more mental than physical. We just have to continue to play hard throughout the whole game, not just up and down when we want to.”
Central Arkansas Head Coach Sandra Rushing
“I’m really proud of the way my team played tonight. I think we played with a lot of heart. We made some mistakes, and Texas A&M is bigger, faster, and stronger. I have a lot of respect for Gary Blair. We definitely had no answer for the inside, absolutely no answer whatsoever. What a great atmosphere to play in front of. I’m glad that my young kids, and we played a lot of young kids, got the chance to play on the big stage. “
On missing two starters…
“I’m just proud of the players that were there, that were on the floor and that were with us on this trip. They went out, and they aren’t letting adversity affect them. That’s the sign of a team that’s maturing.”
On defending Texas A&M inside…
“They just kept going inside, inside, inside. If we would double, we were late getting over on the rotation for the help. They would shoot the five, and there were easy baskets but there was really nothing we could do.”