COLLEGE STATION- Courtney Walker scored 22 points and grabbed 6 rebounds to lead No. 19 Texas A&M to a 72-67 win over No. 16 LSU Sunday afternoon at Reed Arena.
The win marks Texas A&M's first two-game regular season sweep of an SEC opponent since joining the league in 2012-13, as the Aggies defeated LSU 52-48 in the teams' first matchup in Baton Rouge.
The Aggies are now 11-1 at home this season, and have defeated four ranked opponents during SEC play.
LSU (18-6, 7-4 SEC) led for much of the first half, taking a 24-17 lead before Texas A&M scored the last eight points of the first half to take a 25-24 lead into the break.
Texas A&M (18-6, 8-2 SEC) came out of the gates strong in the second half, scoring twice in the first 19 seconds of the half to extend their lead to five points. The Aggies never trailed in the second half, but LSU forced several tense moments in the second half, closing the deficit to a single point on several occasions.
The second half was dominated by physical play, as 34 of the game's 51 fouls were called in the second half, putting several players on both teams into foul trouble.
With the Aggies leading 64-63 and 2:41 to play, Courtney Walker scored on three straight A&M possessions, extending the Aggie lead to three points each time. LSU's Danielle Ballard answered Walker's first two scores, but with 31.2 seconds remaining, Karla Gilbert forced a tie-up on a missed LSU shot that gave Texas A&M the ball and the ability to shoot free throws to ice the game.
Four Aggies reached double figures in scoring, with Walker's 22 leading the way. Courtney Williams had 16 points, while Karla Gilbert reached double figures for the fourth straight game with 12 points. Tori Scott came off the bench to score 11 points.
A&M returns to Reed Arena on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. as Georgia visits for their second matchup with the Aggies this season. A&M won the first matchup 58-44 in Athens on Jan. 12, and the rematch in College Station is televised on Fox Sports Southwest.
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
“That was arguably the best game in the SEC all year. I am just glad to be a part of it. I don’t know how I would have felt if we would have lost the game. Both teams, in the second half, were just throwing haymakers at each other and delivered. We’d make a shot; they’d make a shot. We couldn’t stop Ballard and Moncrief from getting to the lane. They were doing an excellent job. They couldn’t stop Walker and Williams. And then we finally got the ball into Karla enough times. It was just a great basketball game. It was just the longest second half I have ever been a part of because of how many fouls there were. This is what starts a rivalry. You’ve got to have close games. You’ve got to have mutual respect for each other. You’ve got to have kids that both of us have recruited to be on each other’s teams, and you’ve got to go right down to the wire and have a national television audience watching.
“It was just a great basketball game. Both teams played well. It was hard game to officiate. Both coaches were riding them. I’m sure LSU probably thinks of it a different way. We had a lot of those fouls we didn’t agree with too. It was tough. It was women’s basketball at its best. I’m just glad our fans, the ones that were here, had the great chance to see it.”
On the potential of a rivalry
“[All the before-mentioned things should be a sign of rivalry.] It’s also the sign of who we are. We’re not good enough to blow anybody away. Nobody in this league…it’s not going to happen. We make too many mistakes on our zone offense to be able to be predictable. But we’re seeing 90-95% zone the whole year, and it’s not going to change. It’s that they think we’re not a great 3-pointing team. They’re right, so we’re going to shoot less of them, and we’re going to shoot a lot more mid-range shots.”
On the game’s breast cancer awareness intent
“The game was more than just a basketball game. The game is being shown all over the country this week. The whole week with people wearing their pink uniforms and stating a cause. Hopefully, a lot of the people that are healthy can see they can do a little bit to help the ones that are survivors or to put it into cancer research. We’ll still take donations. Hopefully we were able to help Pink Alliance here as well as the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.”
Texas A&M Player Courtney Walker
On her rebounds
“It came right to me. I was just in the right place in the right time. I was kind of spontaneous. Coach likes us to pull the ball out, especially because they are big inside. But when I got it and saw the open court on the other side, I just laid it in.”
“We have a lot of confidence in Tori. She has done that a couple of games. We know that she can come in and hit big shots, play good [defense], and take care of business. We don’t really look to change the pace when she’s in. We’re going to keep attacking.”
Texas A&M Forward Courtney Williams
On Blair’s words after LSU’s foul trouble
“Just attack. We knew were in the bonus, so just attack. We are a good free throwing team. We were just trying to get it in to Karla and just attack.”
Texas A&M Center Karla Gilbert
On the effect of the Jan. 9 game on this game
“Last time we played at LSU, I think we were not as well put together as we were in these last couple of minutes in the game. Although we pulled out the win, I feel like this time around we had been there. We were a little bit more put together and we knew exactly what to say and do, and we executed better.”
On the importance of this game
“This game is very important. In a matter of fact, all of the games that we play from here on out are very important. We already let the first place slip, so we have to make sure that we stay on top with everything that we do. These next few home and away games is going to set the tone on where we’re going to be and where we’re going to sit for the SEC.”
LSU Head Coach Nikki Caldwell
“We knew this was going to be a hard-fought game. Both teams did a lot of good things to position themselves to win. I thought A&M did what they needed to do down the stretch especially with their board play. They got a lot of second and third opportunities. They were the better team and they played with a lot of toughness.”
On the last minutes of the game…
“I felt as though our coverage was there. We had the right people in the right spots. I thought A&M was tougher. They went to the boards harder. I thought that they wanted it more. You could see it in their body language to attack the glass. We didn’t match that physicality at all.”
LSU Freshman Guard Raigyne Moncrief
On the last minute of the game…
“The key to this game was boxing out. We gave them too many second chance points. We couldn’t get a stop on the defensive end. We scored offensively but we couldn’t get a stop.”
On the difference between the two matchups…
“This game came down to our rebounding. The last time we played them, we weren’t able to score. We were able to score this time. We weren’t able to get a defensive stop and grab the rebound.”
LSU Sophomore Guard Danielle Ballard
On Courtney Walker…
“She’s a great player. It’s hard to defend her because she’s got a great pull-up jump shot. She’s very aggressive off the dribble. She was taking our posts and our guards to the hole. She’s a very good player.”