Eight game streak snaps despite late Walker scoring flurry
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 00:02
In the midst of Courtney Walker’s scoring the final 10 A&M points in Monday’s loss, her coach told her to channel the game of a man who recently turned 50 years old.
“We got in transition and I just told Walker to do her best Michael Jordan act,” Texas A&M women’s basketball head coach Gary Blair said, “And she was doing it. Walker’s a great kid, she works hard. She gave us a chance at the end.”
Despite Walker’s 20 points, No. 10 A&M fell short after slicing a 14-point deficit to two in the last nine minutes. The last team to beat A&M struck once again as No. 8 Kentucky held on, 70-66.
The Aggies’ last loss before their eight-game win streak came from Kentucky, which won 65-62 on Jan. 10 on its home court. This time, despite home court advantage, the Aggies failed to produce a different outcome.
Senior forward Kristi Bellock said this was a tough loss for them given the circumstances.
“This was definitely a tough loss coming off of eight straight wins.” Bellock said. “They were the last team we lost to so we’re just really upset with ourselves. It’s another learning experience.”
A&M trailed by 14 points with just over nine minutes remaining, but Walker would pour in 14 points over the final eight minutes, including the last 10 for A&M. After she scored with 4.5 seconds left and drew a foul, Walker intentionally missed the free throw to give A&M a final attempt, but Kentucky secured the rebound to seal the game.
“When Walker went down to cut it two and shoot the free-throw to cut it to one, I was not going to take a chance on stealing the inbound when we have not pressed all game,” Blair said about Walker’s layup and free-throw attempt. “I told Walker to miss it, which was our best chance to win it.”
The Aggies got off to a great start as they went on a 9-0 run early in the game, but the Wildcats would come back with a 5-0 run in just 12 seconds to keep the game within reach.
A&M led for the first ten minutes of the game but Kentucky took the lead late in the first half and started to pull away, leading by six at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, the Aggies came out strong, closing in on the Wildcats 42-40. But due to the double teaming of junior All-American candidate Kelsey Bone — who turned the ball over seven times and scored nine points — A&M had to find another outlet to make the shots.
Bellock grabbed seven rebounds in the second half to keep the Aggies in the game. By the end of the game she had a double-double with a career-high 15 rebounds and 12 points.
Despite Bellock’s efforts, the Aggies began to trail by 14 points with just over nine minutes left in the game. Reed Arena was silenced.
Walker’s “Jordan act” wasn’t enough to win a ninth in a row, as Kentucky guard A'dia Mathies led Kentucky with 13 points and DeNesha Stallworth recorded 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“It was go hard or go home.” Walker said. “If you’re not aggressive, they’re going to get a bucket. I was just trying to be aggressive and focus a lot more on where I needed to be.”