Heading into the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, the Aggies had one goal: to not go “one-and-out.”
And yet, rather than preparing for a Saturday matchup, the No. 15 Texas A&M women’s basketball team spent Friday night reconciling a 67-66 loss to fifth-seed Arkansas.
Through much of the game, it seemed like the Aggies were on their way to a win. They outshot the Razorbacks 44 percent to 34 percent, including 38 to 32 percent from behind the arc. A&M outrebounded Arkansas 42-30. But it was the one statistic that ended up mattering the most that the Aggies didn’t win: free throw percentage.
The Aggies had the lead until the final eight seconds of the game as a pair of free throws gave Arkansas the win.
Those two free throws gave the Razorbacks a shooting percentage of 84 percent, with success on 16 of 19 attempts. A&M was just one point behind, shooting 15-of-18.
A&M junior guard Chennedy Carter had fouled Arkansas senior forward Kiara Williams as the Aggies led by one with eight seconds remaining in the game. After Williams gave Arkansas its only lead of the game, the Aggies gave Carter the ball in an effort to keep their SEC Tournament, and their NCAA Tournament-hosting, bid alive.
But the effort ended in a soul-crushing loss as her shot was blocked by sophomore guard Rokia Doumbia. Junior guard Aaliyah Wilson got the rebound in a last-ditch attempt, which also gave her a career-high nine rebounds in the game, but time expired before she could get a shot off.
Despite the events of the final seconds, the game was not as highly contested as the score suggests.
A&M opened the game on a 12-0 run and only allowed the Razorbacks within eight in the half, leading by as much as 17.
Arkansas improved its field shooting by 20.5 percent, going from 23.3 percent in the first half to 43.8 percent in the second. But it was the Razorbacks’ work from behind the arc that allowed them to close in on A&M’s 38-26 halftime lead.
The Razorbacks had success on a measly 16.7 percent of their three-pointers in the first half but improved to 60 percent in the second, going 6-of-10.
The Aggies, on the other hand, saw an opposite trend between the two halves. Their shooting percentage dropped to 37.9 percent from 52 percent, with their success behind the arc going from 50 to 25 percent.
Arkansas had four players with double-digit points: Williams, senior guard Alexis Tolefree, junior guard Chelsea Dungee and freshman guard Makayla Daniels.
For A&M, Carter led the way, posting her 15th game of over 20 points with 23. Junior guard Kayla Wells followed with 19 points, while junior forward N’dea Jones added a double-double with 11 rebounds and 10 points.
The Aggies now await their seeding for the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced at 5 p.m. on March 16.