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No. 19 Women’s Basketball Defeats Kentucky 74-70

COLLEGE STATION- Khaalia Hillsman had 20 points, leading No. 19 Texas A&M as the Aggies defeated Kentucky 74-70 in a women’s basketball game at Reed Arena.

The Aggies (12-4, 1-1 SEC) led for nearly the last 11 minutes of the game, but had to survive a late scare. Texas A&M extended its lead to nine points with 7:32 remaining, but the Wildcats (8-8, 0-2) clawed back, closing the deficit to just two points with 9.7 seconds to play. Anriel Howard, who had her 22nd career double-double in the game, then sank two free throws to extend the Aggie lead to four and clinch victory.

The win was the first at Reed Arena for Texas A&M over Kentucky, and snapped a five-game winning streak for the road team in this series, dating back to 2012-13. The Aggies have won four straight at home, and are 12-0 against unranked teams this season. The all-time series between the two schools is now tied 4-4.

Danni Williams added 19 points, matching her career-high with five 3-pointers off of eight attempts. Chennedy Carter added 14 to give the Aggies four players in double figures.

The Aggies out-rebounded Kentucky 34 to 27, and made 18 of their 22 free throw attempts on the game. Texas A&M led 39-36 at halftime, as neither team led by more than nine in the game.

Texas A&M heads to Auburn on Sunday, January 7 at 2 p.m. for their next contest. The Aggies return home on Thursday, January 11 at 6 p.m. to host No. 7 Tennessee.

Texas A&M

  • The Aggies are now 12-4 on the season and 1-1 in SEC play. The Wildcats fall to 8-8 on the season and 0-2 in SEC play.
  • Texas A&M is 63-12 at Reed Arena since the start of the 2013-14 season and is 155-5 against unranked teams at home since February 2005
  • This is Texas A&M’s first win over Kentucky at Reed Arena, and breaks a five-game winning streak for the road team in the series. The road team has won every regular season matchup in this series since 2013.
  • Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is 343-145 in 15 seasons at Texas A&M and 751-308 in his Hall of Fame career, which ranks seventh among active coaches and 11th all-time.

Chennedy Carter

  • Scored in double figures for the 16th straight game. She is the only Texas A&M player to start her career with 16 straight double-figure scoring games.

Danni Williams

  • Matched her career-high with five 3-pointers
  • Scored in double figures for the sixth straight game and the 14th time in 16 games this season

Khaalia Hillsman

  • Scored 20+ points for the fifth time this season and 16th time in her career. Her 16 career games of 20+ points rank sixth at Texas A&M.
  • Scored in double figures for the 12th time this season and the 56th time in her career
  • Made her 91st consecutive start, dating back to the 2014-15 season
  • Moved past her former teammate Rachel Mitchell for sole possession of fifth on Texas A&M’s career block list with 117 for her career.

Anriel Howard

  • Had her 22nd career double double, and her ninth of the season. She is Texas A&M’s career leader in double-doubles.
  • Had 10+ rebounds for the 11th straight game and 15th time in 16 games this season
  • Had her 10th 10+ point game of the season and the 30th of her career.

Lulu McKinney

  • Made her 46th career start, but her first at Texas A&M



Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
On the threes from Kentucky’s Maci Morris…
“We identified it more when they went ball screen in the first half. We switched off on her. She would just do a step-back. Anriel [Howard] lost her one time. She had her hands flat back. That’s what a two-guard is supposed to do in this league. I thought we did a lot better job in the second half of taking away some of their threes. She is one of the most improved players in the league. You had two clones of each other, Danni [Williams] and Morris. Those are two of finest two guards in our league and they both have improved so much. When Morris first got here she couldn’t put the ball on the floor like she did today. They ran a lot of one-on-one stuff and that gave Danni and chance to see what she could do. We got Danni that big six against their press and that gave us a cushion. Then, we started finding Khaalia [Hillsman] under the basket. Every time I thought we were going to break it open we couldn’t and that was mainly due to Kentucky’s good offense. [Alyssa] Rice was very effective on Khaalia. She was hitting the mid-range and Khaalia wasn’t getting out on her. We are going to take it as a ‘W.’ It wasn’t our best performance but Kentucky has been in every one of those games on their six-game streak. They didn’t fold at the end and kept coming at us. That’s what the SEC is all about. Kentucky could have easily won that ballgame.”

On different starting five…
“I wanted to get my other four players into the flow. I wanted my team to know that they could do it without Chennedy [Carter] always having to create a shot. It didn’t work and that’s something that I wanted to go to [Khaalia] Hillsman early. She scored on our first possession. Danni [Williams] scored a couple baskets, Jazz [Lumpkin] got in on it. I wanted those four kids to feel good about themselves again. Then when I put Chennedy in she was sluggish and wasn’t playing very well. She got into her groove in the second half but it took too long. I think I got everybody confident that she can come off the bench.”

On other contributors…
“Lulu [McKinney] should be given a whole lot of credit. I’m not worried about her three fouls. Knocking down that big three and the first two that she’s had all season. She’s earned that chance. I’m not afraid to start Kayla Wells at the three sometimes. Kayla came in and did a very good job for us coming off the bench. Sometimes, you have to go with your best defensive player and that’s Lumpkin.”

Texas A&M Senior Center Khaalia Hillsman
On her game tonight…
“I was just not thinking about it. Sometimes I feel like since I’m a senior I stress myself out way more than I need to. These past couple of days in practice I’ve taken a new approach to practice and just playing overall. I really think that helped me today, being calmer and just letting the game come to me.”

On earning the Aggies’ first SEC win…
“It feels good. We played South Carolina really tough and honestly, we probably should’ve won that game but we didn’t. So, we just had to put that behind us and focus on Kentucky, which I think we did. ”

Texas A&M Junior Guard Danni Williams
On the difference in her play tonight…
“I’ve been putting a lot more time in the gym. I know I’ve been struggling so I have been shooting before practice and then coming back at night just really trying to find my shot and find my rhythm. I think early on I was able to get an open look and knock it down so that helped me a little.”

On picking up first SEC victory… 
“It’s huge. I think playing South Carolina gave us a lot of confidence knowing we can come out every single night and we can beat anybody we step on the floor with. Also, the SEC is tough and we hadn’t beat Kentucky at home so this win is huge for us moving to the road on Sunday.”

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening Statement…
“Texas A&M fought hard and played well enough to win the game. I thought our players really worked hard. We could not stop fouling and we couldn’t draw any fouls and that was a big difference in the game. Their ability to get to the foul line and our inability to get there really hurt us. I thought we worked hard on our offensive board we just could not keep [Anriel] Howard off their offensive board. Texas A&M is a very talented team and we fought hard. I’m real disappointed we lost.”

On Maci Morris’ shooting…
“Maci has the green light. She is our most gifted player and has skills. She is our offensive go-to player. She did a good job.”

Story courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics

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Posted by on Jan 5 2018. Filed under Sports.
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