Aggie Women’s Basketball Falls at No. 1 South Carolina, 65-45

WTAW 1620 Aggie Basketball

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Aliyah Boston had 19 points and 15 rebounds for her 10th consecutive double-double and No. 1 South Carolina used a third-quarter surge to put away Texas A&M 65-45 on Thursday night.

Boston had already tied the program best with nine consecutive double-doubles last time out and moved on top when she grabbed her 10th rebound 17 minutes into the game. She already had 15 points.

Still, the Gamecocks (16-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) needed a 15-2 run after halftime to take control. The Aggies (10-6, 0-4) tied it at 26-all on Kayla Wells’ opening basket of the period. That’s when South Carolina turned things up. Destanni Henderson had a pair of 3-pointers while Boston added another inside bucket.

When Zia Cooke hit a 3-pointer, South Carolina led 41-28 and would not be caught as the Aggies opened conference play with four straight defeats – something it had never done since joining the league before the 2012-13 season.

Boston went for eight points the first eight minutes as the Gamecocks moved out to a 16-4 lead. But Texas A&M cranked up the defense and connected on shots, outscoring South Carolina 20-10 to the half and pulled within 26-24.

Like most other opponents this season, the Aggies couldn’t slow down Boston, who notched her 10th straight game with double figure points and rebounds with more than three minutes left in the second quarter.

While Boston was on fire, Cooke was ice cold. The South Carolina junior, averaging 12.6 points a game, missed all nine shots she took in the opening half, five of those from beyond the arc.

Cooke finished 3-of-16 overall – all her baskets on threes – for 10 points. Henderson had 15 points and Victaria Saxton 10.

Qudashiah Hoppie led the Aggies with 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

It was Blair’s final time at the Colonial Life Arena, a building he’s praised for its its huge crowds and atmosphere. He walked the concourse an hour before tipoff, hugging supporters and interacting with fans.

Blair’s national championship compatriot, Dawn Staley, presented him with a gift box right before the start as several fans stood and cheered for the Aggies’ coach, retiring after this season. Blair mimicked a golf swing so golf balls were probably involved.

POSTGAME NOTES
RECORDS & SERIES NOTES

Texas A&M falls to 10-6 overall this season and 0-4 in conference play.
The Maroon & White is now 4-8 against South Carolina all-time.

TEAM NOTES

  • The Aggie bench outscored the Gamecock second unit 12-11. This is the ninth game this season where the A&M bench outscored its opponent’s bench. The team is 6-3 in those ballgames.
  • The Maroon & White held South Carolina to nine points in the second quarter. It was the 13th single-digit quarter forced by the Aggie defense and just the second for the Gamecock offense this year.
  • Texas A&M utilized a starting lineup of Jordan Nixon, Qadashah Hoppie, Aaliyah Patty, Kayla Wells and Sydnee Roby for the third time this season (2-1).

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

  • Qadashah Hoppie led the Aggies in scoring for the second-consecutive game. Hoppie poured in 15 points and nailed two 3-pointers.
  • Hoppie has scored in double-digits for the seventh-straight game and 10th time overall this season.
  • Hoppie played all 40 minutes for the second time this year. She has played 40+ minutes in three of the last four ballgames.
  • Kayla Wells has scored in double digits every game this year, after scoring 11 points against the Gamecocks. She has now scored 10-or-more points in 80 games throughout her career.
  • Wells has played in 140 games for the Aggies, which is four games from breaking Karla Gilbert’s program record of 143.
  • Maliyah Johnson played a career-high 30 minutes and set a new career best in blocks, swatting away two shots.
  • Jada Malone set a new career high in minutes played, logging 29 minutes off the bench.
  • Women’s Basketball Hall-of-Famer Gary Blair falls to 848-339 in his career with a 440-176 record at Texas A&M.

Head Coach Gary Blair
Opening Statement…
“South Carolina is the best team in the country. It was like watching that Georgia-Alabama football game the other night. South Carolina is that good. I said, ‘Let’s try and stay with them until halftime’. We fought, we scratched and we found a way to do it. But eventually Dawn [Staley] made some adjustments. We missed the jump shots, and South Carolina had 26 offensive rebounds. When you shoot 25 threes, it’s almost like a pass to me. They are tall and 95% of the time they are just reaching over us and getting the rebounds. [Destanni] Henderson hit a couple of threes that helped them. When they have Henderson and the best player in the country [Aaliyah Boston] it is kind of hard to stop.”

On fighting through the losing streak…
“When you get knocked down nine times, you get up 10. We were 1-4 in the Big 12 to start conference play in 2007-08. We went to the Elite 8 that year, had Tennessee up five with six to go and couldn’t finish the deal with Candace Parker in her last year. As soon as you give up on Aggies, we will find a way to get back.”

Junior Guard Jordan Nixon
On South Carolina’s play…
“South Carolina checks all the boxes. They are athletic. They play hard. They are strong. They are fast. They made it tough. They did their job and that was their game plan. They wanted to make it tough and be physical. They played South Carolina basketball. I do think we responded well, but they made us think twice and that is the name of the game when you’re playing a team of this caliber.”

On what the team can take away from this game…
“Every experience is a learning experience. We talk about being a veteran team, but we still have some new people. Q [Qadashah Hoppie] is even new. We are all trying to figure it out. There is a lot you can take from every game, but overall, just staying in the fight for 40 minutes. We talk about having moments. We have moments, quarters and pieces to the puzzle that we haven’t figured out how to put together yet.”

Graduate Guard Qadashah Hoppie
On why the South Carolina defense gave the A&M offense issues…
“They had some pretty hard hedges. You know they had 6-6 and 6-7 coming at us. Sometimes when you have taller players running at you, you may flick your wrist a little quicker than usual. Being composed and taking your regular shot is what we needed to focus on a little bit more.

Up Next
The Aggies are set to host Auburn on Sunday at 4 p.m. CT inside Reed Arena.