The Texas A&M women’s basketball team will travel to Los Angeles to face a familiar foe in the USC Trojans on Saturday.
Having played each other the last three seasons, the No. 6 Aggies (3-0) are facing a USC team they have defeated in four of their five matchups, including the last two.
“I'm super excited to go to California,” junior Kayla Wells said. “We're going to get to do some team bonding. We're excited to go down there and play them again. USC is always fun to play against. They're a good team, and every year we have to compete against them, so we're excited to go out there and compete.”
The Aggies are returning to Los Angeles for the first time since 2017, when A&M won a close 75-74 victory thanks to Chennedy Carter’s school record 46-point performance.
In their last game against Rice, the Aggies squeezed out a close 62-61 road victory, thanks to a rebound by junior center Ciera Johnson with nine seconds left.
A&M coach Gary Blair said the experience of the Rice game will help make them a better team.
“This is why we play the road games that we do as a basketball team, particularly in November and December,” Blair said. “That experience of being in those situations is what this basketball team's all about.”
Carter, who finished the game against Rice with 29 points, shot 3-12 from the field in the second half, including going 1-8 from inside the arc.
Blair said he wants the team to do a better job at balancing their scoring.
“Other kids had to step up and make plays, which they did,” Blair said. “We're going to have more balance in our scoring then just 29 and 19, and no one else in double figures. We need four people in double figures. We’ll still have 29 and 19, but we’ve got to share the ball a little bit better.”
An area that the Aggies will look to get more involved at is their frontcourt, which struggled against Rice. Facing a team with 6-foot-9 Nancy Mulkey, Johnson scored a season-low eight points and eight rebounds, while forward N’dea Jones only finished with one point.
Being able to get more opportunities for their bigs will be a point of emphasis this week.
“Every game there'll be something new that we have to adjust to, a lot of times on the fly,” Blair said. “We wanted to press Rice, but you cannot press Rice if you cannot get to the free throw line and even attempt a free throw. We never could set up well. We have to do a better job of getting the ball inside to our bigs and making sure they get the opportunity to get fouled and hopefully get an and-one.”
For the team, being able to execute their game plan will be key to taking on the Trojans.
“We're going to have to rebound the ball and use our size against them, we’re going to have to do what we usually do,” Wells said. “We have our defensive principles, and we want to execute against them. We don't feel like we executed against Rice very well, so we just want to clean up the little things that we messed up against Rice.”
Tipoff against Southern California begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday. The game will be streamed on Pac 12+.