Junior Dani Williams made 21 points, making it her seventh game in a row scoring double figures.
Despite a seven-point deficit in the first quarter, the No. 20 Texas A&M women’s basketball team came back to defeat the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns 83-62 in the WNIT Quarterfinals on Sunday during Military Appreciation Day at Reed Arena.
A&M head coach, Gary Blair said he was pleased with how the Aggies drove the ball, rebounded, and the number of free throws attempts they finished with.
“One of our goals on the board was to get 30 free throw attempts after we got 36 the last time. We hit it on the nose. I think we are doing a great job of driving the basketball and not just being a jump shooting team, which is what we have been in the past… We didn’t have any turnovers in the second half.” Blair said.
A&M and Louisiana-Lafayette showed their defensive strength early in the first quarter, not scoring until the eight-minute mark of the half. The Ragin’ Cajuns took a 4-2 lead with two back-to-back field goals by Kendra Howard and Simone Fields.
The Aggies fought back with the help of junior Danni Williams who gave them their first lead of the game and started a chain of points for the Aggies, when she shot a three-pointer advancing the score to 8-6, in the Aggies favor.
Stopping the Aggies’ three-score lead, the Ragin’ Cajuns tied the game 12-12 and would continue to hold the Aggie offense, forcing their own seven-point lead. A&M couldn’t bounce back from this deficit and fell to the Ragin’ Cajuns, 19-12 at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, Caylinne Martin and Jasmine Lumpkin fouled three times against the Ragin’ Cajuns, moving Louisiana’s lead to 21-18. However, A&M bounced back with three consistent points by Lulu McKinney, Khaalia Hillsman, and Williams, tying the game at 23-23.
The Aggies led 25-23 with the aid of four free throws by Williams and sophomore, Anriel Howard. A&M would keep this lead as their offense began to show some fight at the end of the first half. The Aggies went into halftime leading 33-30.
Coming out of halftime, A&M showed no signs of stopping. A&M went on their own scoring run, moving ahead 44-35 with a nine-point lead and the help of back-to-back three-pointers by Williams and McKinney who scored a combined seven points for the Aggies.
Williams and Howard led the Aggies to 55-39 with a total of four free throws at the end of the third. A layup by Chennedy Carter ended the third and moved the game into the fourth and final quarter, with A&M leading by 18 points.
Blair credited this change in pace after halftime to their ability to keep the Ragin’ Cajuns in front of them on the drive.
“I think we kept them in front of us on the drive a little bit better. Coach [Bob] Starkey gave his sermon.” he said. “We just decided they are going to have to stop us inside first. Then, let’s get into transition. We have to be a running team to keep people from sagging and taking a lot of our set plays."
Entering with a substantial lead, A&M secured the game as the offense and defense continued to blend and come out with a combined total of 13 rebounds, eight free throws, and four layups in the fourth quarter, making the final score 83-62.
Finishing the game with 18 points and leading the team in scoring, Chennedy Carter is one of the only freshman, along with Sydney Colson, to score more than 10 points in their first two games.
Carter said that her teammates are constantly pushing her to focus on the task at hand, and that she felt she played with more urgency offensively in this game.
“I feel like I played with a little more sense of urgency. I feel like my teammates kept me involved and kept me pushing.” Carter said. “They pretty much told me to just keep shooting and don’t worry about last game. I feel like I focused on this game and just went out there to compete and it made a difference from last week’s game to this week’s game
The Aggies will face No. 11 Oregon at Reed Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m.