Aggies fall to No. 11 Tennessee, 76-55
A&M fails to recover from halftime deficit, ends win streak
Published: Sunday, January 26, 2014
Updated: Sunday, January 26, 2014 23:01
Despite a raucous crowd of 7,207 — the 15th largest ever to see a women’s basketball game at Reed Arena — the No. 17 Texas A&M women’s basketball team fell to the No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers, 76-55, on Sunday. The Lady Vols scored the first basket just 15 seconds into the game, and never looked back.
Texas A&M players wore shirts that said “We Back Pat” to show their support for the former Tennessee head coach, Pat Summit, who is fighting Alzheimer’s disease. The entire Southeastern Conference honored Summit and sought to raise awareness for the Pat Summit Foundation. Head Coach Gary Blair talked about the importance of Sunday’s game.
“That was very important,“ Blair said. “Games come and go, but Pat Summit has meant more to this game than any other one person, present or past. So it’s our job to go in and raise awareness. This is a disease that we’ve got to figure out.”
The Aggies were held scoreless for the first five minutes, allowing the Lady Vols to start the game on an 8-0 run. Sophomore point guard, Jordan Jones, expressed her disappointment with the team’s early struggles.
“We had great looks, they just weren’t falling,” Jones said. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce our way, and tonight it did not. I feel like we settled a little bit and gave the Tennessee zone exactly what they wanted, which was make us settle on the outside perimeter and shoot jump shots.”
The Aggies clawed back after the early deficit to pull within two before Tennessee went on an 11-0 run, going up 23-10 and staying at least 10 points ahead for the rest of the game.
Tennessee was led by Meighan Simmons — a Cibolo, Texas, native — who scored a game-high 26 points. Simmons spoke about the emotion of playing in her home state.
“It meant a lot, just the fact that my family was here,” Simmons said. “Being in front of family and friends is great, but it shouldn’t matter. No matter where I play, no matter where we play, it’s always good to come back home.”
Tennessee put up 36 points on the Aggies in the first half while shooting 53 percent (17-32) from the field. The 16-point halftime deficit was the largest of the year for A&M. Tennessee dominated in transition, outscoring A&M 17-0 on fast break points.
In the second half, the Aggies held steady with the Lady Vols, only being outscored by five, but the halftime deficit was too much to overcome.
A&M was led by senior center Karla Gilbert and sophomore guard Courtney Walker. Gilbert had 14 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, earning her fourth double-double of the year, while Walker tallied a team-high 20 points. Walker’s 20-point performance marks her second-straight game scoring at least 20 points, and her fourth such game for the season. She also added two assists, a block and a steal.
The Aggie defense forced just 10 turnovers for Tennessee, and was outscored 38-16 in the paint by Tennessee.
The loss stopped A&M’s nine-game win streak while ending its perfect season at Reed Arena this season, dropping the Aggies home record to 10-1.
“Like I told our kids in the dressing room, look in the mirror, pat the other team on the back,” Blair said. “That’s not going to be our last loss of the year, Tennessee probably has a few losses in front of them. That’s how balanced our league is. But right now, we’re in first place.”
Texas A&M (16-5, 6-1 SEC) will next travel to Alabama on Thursday to take on the Auburn Tigers (11-9, 2-5 SEC).