Photo by Jackie Ysaquirre, TexAgs
Texas A&M Women's Basketball

No. 23 Aggie women’s basketball uses big second half to beat undefeated USC, 71-51

December 19, 2018

It was a tale of two halves at Reed Arena tonight as the 23rd ranked Texas A&M Aggies pulled away in the second half to defeat the Trojans of Southern California.

The identity crisis that defined the first half for the Aggies began almost immediately, as a turnover on a pass from Shambria Washington to Ciera Johnson led to USC scoring the first bucket of the ball game. The Aggies were not dominating inside on either side of the floor, a method they rely on to win games. Talking about the first quarter, Coach Gary Blair said “we were lucky,” referring to only being down by two points at the end of the first period.

The second quarter saw much of the same identity crisis. The Ags were not getting the ball inside, and were missing plenty of jump shots, finishing the first half 9/26 from the floor. The inside out game that the Aggies play was not possible because there was no inside game to begin with. Sophomore Ciera Johnson, who averages 11 points and 6.2 rebounds, finished the first half with three points and one rebound.

On the defensive end, the Aggies gave up 20 points in the paint before the intermission. This was a result of turnovers that USC converted into points, 13 to be exact, as well as giving up offensive rebounds and driving lanes.

“I think what you saw in the first half was a little bit of post Maui. I didn’t feel like we had the legs until we got to the second half.”
- Head coach Gary Blair

The silver lining of the first half struggles was that it allowed sophomore Kayla Wells to begin her career night. After a quiet first quarter, she exploded for ten points in the second quarter, including a non-Chennedy Carter made three-pointer, a feat that seemed hard to come by coming into this game.

Explaining the woes of the first half, Coach Blair said, “Our legs were tired. Forget Chennedy’s foot. Everybody was dead tired. I was dead tired.” He went on to say, “I think what you saw in the first half was a little bit of post Maui. I didn’t feel like we had the legs until we got to the second half.”

Having possibly already spoiled what happened in the second half, the Aggies woke up behind the continued outstanding play from Wells, who finished with a career high 26 points on 10/17 shooting and three made three pointers. Wells spoke after the game saying, “that game against Oregon State really gave me a lot of confidence that I can really shoot the ball and I need to shoot the ball more.”

The Oregon State game was so important for Wells because sophomore guard and the number two scoring option behind Chennedy Carter, Aaliyah Wilson, had gone down with what ended up being a season ending ACL and MCL tear. Carter was also banged up with an ankle tweak. Wells ended up scoring 20 points that game to lift the Aggies over the eighth ranked Oregon State Beavers. In speaking on that confidence boosting game as well as tonight’s effort, Wells said, “somebody needed to step up. I knew that I could be the one to step up.”

Coach Blair agreed with this notion by saying, “I think tonight’s game started with what she (Kayla Wells) did against Oregon State. That’s what we have to do. Next person step up.”

“The kids knew how bad we played in the first half, they responded.”
- Head coach Gary Blair

As Kayla Wells continued to score the ball, the Aggies were able to find themselves. “The kids knew how bad we played in the first half,” said Coach Blair. “They responded.”

The Aggies first responded by cleaning up the defensive side of the ball. Coach Blair said the difference in the ball game “was when we went to zone defense in the second half almost exclusively. They (USC) were passing it around the arc hoping for an open three and not hitting it. Then, when they (USC) would penetrate, they were one and out the majority of the time.” USC only scored six points in the paint in the second half and shot 14% from the floor.

Responding on the offensive side of the ball, the Aggies looked to Kayla Wells to keep things going. “We started calling Kayla’s play. I called it about five times in a row, and all of a sudden, she started delivering,” said Coach Blair.

On top of the scoring from Wells, Ciera Johnson was able to get some buckets inside, and Chennedy Carter added a very quiet 23 points, 12 of which came from the foul line.

The last important note from tonight’s ball game was the overcoming of adversity that this young Aggie team showed. Coach Blair praised his team by saying, “this team handles adversity as good as any team I’ve had since I’ve been here.”

This adversity was seen through Carter being banged up with her ankle, Wilson out for the season, and the cold first half.

Chennedy Carter exerted maxium effort in tonight’s victory, even through a game in which she struggled.

Carter spoke on her struggles shooting as she was 5/14 from the floor but was focused on her “do anything I can to help us win mentality.” Carter said she “just tried to do anything” she could for the team. “I was struggling out there a little bit trying to run. I had a bad tweak against the Oregon State girls. I just tried to do whatever it took. Coach said to rebound the ball and win us the game.” Carter finished with an unlikely double-double from a point guard with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Coach Blair praised Carter’s efforts in a game she struggled in. “Chennedy was hurting on both ends making not good decisions, but at the same time, she rebounded, she played through it, and that’s what All-Americans are supposed to do.”

Carter spoke on her ankle after the game. “I gotta go get back in that boot. It’s aching. It was hard. I need to keep doing treatment. Keep icing. Hopefully by the time we come back from the break, I’ll be ready to go for conference play. I need a couple days off my foot.”

Looking forward, the now red hot, but banged up Aggies, take on Prairie View A&M at home on Friday at 6:30 pm.

Special thanks to Mac Resource Computers for their sponsorship of all women's basketball content produced throughout the season at! For the seventh consecutive year, all WBB content will be available to you for free!

Discussion from...

No. 23 Aggie women’s basketball uses big second half to beat undefeated USC, 71-51

How long do you want to ignore this user?
I don't care what other people say about Carter but here is my take.

She is one gritty basketball player. I watched this kid get knocked down
all throughout the game ( and stayed out of foul trouble)....I watched her limp from one end of the court to the other.

I saw her pick up her teammates when they made a mistake. I saw her run to them when
they pulled off a great play. I saw her laugh and smile most of the game. I watched her give 100%
really trying to be the best she could be. She has grown so much from last year and if you think this is the end of her growth - look forward to next year she is only a sophomore She will have her ups and downs like any kid but underneath it all is a really great kid looking for her own identity like we all do when growing up. We are lucky to have her and her basketball skills have brought fun and excitement back to Reed.

This whole team is growing Wells is becoming a Jones on the boards, a few more game under Johnson's belt and we will have a solid post.....Washington has steeped into point and has played great defense....the bench has steeped up.

This team could bring us a year of fun and excitement we haven't had in awhile.

How long do you want to ignore this user?
I was very happy how the game turned out and very surprised at the zone defense and sticking with it. It makes it seem the staff and team really are enjoying this season. Merry Christmas to all of us!!!
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