COLLEGE STATION, Texas- No. 25 Texas A&M won its eighth straight game, downing Mississippi State 73-35 in a women's basketball game at Reed Arena.
The win also extended A&M’s home-winning streak to 10 straight games, and kept A&M in sole possession of first place in the SEC standings.
The game marked the return of long-time A&M assistant coach, Vic Schaefer, who now is the head coach of Mississippi State. Dating back to Schaefer’s days as head coach at Sam Houston State, Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair is now 9-0 against his long-time friend, and 2-0 against him while at Mississippi State.
Texas A&M (15-4, 5-0 SEC) continued its run of strong first halves defensively, holding Mississippi State to 20 points and just one field goal the last 11:40 of the half, as the Aggies took a 33-20 lead into the break. The Aggies have held four straight opponents to 20 or fewer points in the first half.
Mississippi State (14-5, 1-4 SEC) had its offensive rhythm disrupted by the stifling Aggie defense, shooting just 20.3% over the course of the game and were held without a 3-pointer.
Courtney Walker led A&M with 16 points, and was joined in double figures by Courtney Williams (15) and Achiri Ade (14).
"We were well prepared," said Walker. "We had some really long practices the past few days based on the fact that they know all of our plays. We executed more and got to the hole by being aggressive."
Karla Gilbert led the Aggies with 10 rebounds, followed by Ade’s nine. Jordan Jones led the Aggies with nine assists, coming one away from her fourth 10+ assist game of the season.
The Aggies next hit the road to face Missouri on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. Texas A&M returns to Reed Arena on Jan. 26 to host No. 12 Tennessee at 3 p.m. in a game televised by ESPN2. The game marks the first visit to College Station for the Lady Vols.
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
“Another great crowd on a football Sunday- I appreciate it. We had a lot of great kids that were hollering. It was just fun to see kids have a good time. Marketing 101: kids free, parents pay. That’s what you have to do sometimes.
“There’s no way I thought the game would finish with this type of score. I was totally frustrated in the first half, and I’m sure Vic was too, because we were not running our offense correctly. Particularly, we had some stuff that we knew would work, and we got in a hurry and didn’t execute it early. We can’t afford to do that when you’re on the road. We were just playing good defense, making a miss, and then we got a couple run-outs. At halftime we coached them like we were 13 points down, and I think they responded.
Just a good team effort. I thought Walker was good as usual, but look at Rachel Mitchell. She’s coming. I think she did a great job at her first two times in there at blocking Alwal’s shot. I’m not sure Alwal’s used to that. She’s getting better and better and sometimes a foul problem by Karla while we’re ahead gives me the benefit of playing Rachel or Jada in big times minutes. That’s what happened and I thought she responded well.”
On Vic Schaefer's Return
“Maroon and White was warming up in one end- maroon and white was warming up on the other end. Five coaches from A&M were coaching Mississippi State. Six coaches from our end were coaching us. Vic and I did a good job of making it a business trip. We didn’t go out to dinner. We didn’t’ do anything….it was a business trip.
“That was not Mississippi State we’ve seen on film. They’re a lot better than that. It was not their good game, but sometimes, does anybody give credit to us for playing pretty good dog-gone defense? I thought our defense was very good. We held the team at shooting 20%. Give a lot of credit to our defensive coach for having the team ready. “
Texas A&M Guard Courtney Walker
On the positives of the game
"We were well prepared. We had some really long practices the past few days based on the fact that they know all of our plays. We executed more and got to the hole by being aggressive."
On the Shot blocking
"Coach Starkey talked to the post players this week about keeping their hands up and allowing the ball to come to them instead of coming down and fouling. They might have been more focused on that. Their post player was pretty big, and she might have been used to being able to shoot over anybody."
Texas A&M Guard Jordan Jones
On Schaefer's return to Reed Arena
"We'd be lying if we didn't say we feel some type of way for Coach Schaefer, but at the end of the day, this is a business. Coach Blair said while were on the court, they're the enemy and we can worry about the family and the celebration after the game is over. We just cared about the numbers and that their jerseys didn't say Texas A&M. We pretty much treated them like any other team."
On the Aggies' depth on the bench
I think that's what separates us from most teams in the SEC, the depth that we have coming off the bench. We give everybody reps in practice, and I think it prepares us well because it's not just the starter's that are prepared but it's also the people coming off the bench. The coaches did a really great job recruiting players that fit into the offense. Everyone that comes in shows their confidence in themselves and plays within their role and it shows in our team chemistry."
Mississippi State Head Coach Vic Schaefer
"Our youth, inexperience, and immaturity all three reared their ugly heads against a very talented Texas A&M team. Those kids were clicking, playing well, and making shots. I thought we had some great shots, we just couldn't make them. I thought we got the ball inside early and often. I was pleased with our execution, I just wasn't excited about the results. I'm disappointed, but there's a bigger picture here. We learned a lesson today. I'm disappointed it had to happen here against A&M, but at the end of the day I have to keep myself grounded and see the big picture as well."
On returning to A&M
"It was a little different being on the other bench. A lot of great folks-the community here is what's so special for us. These were the folks that gathered around my family four years ago when I almost lost my son. This is my school, I went to school here. I tried to keep it as business like as I could."