Gary Blair
Mike Neighbors
Texas A&M Women's Basketball

Heartbreaking loss to Arkansas eliminates A&M from SEC tournament, 58-51

March 9, 2019

A downward fourth quarter plunge led the Aggies to a heartbreaking 58-51 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks in Saturday’s semifinal round of the 2019 SEC tournament. After earning a double-bye and defeating sixth seeded Auburn, Texas A&M (24-7) was on the brink of avenging an earlier season loss to Mississippi State in Sunday’s conference championship, but the Aggies will instead be watching the finals from the couch rather than the bench.

Texas A&M drew blood first and had an incredible first half under the leadership of Ciera Johnson and N’dea Jones, together accounting for over 60% of the team’s total points in both the first half and the entire game. The Aggies limited turnovers and were able to capitalize on their scoring opportunities in what seemed at first like a blowout contest.

“What we didn’t do was execute our half-court offense from about the middle of the second quarter on.”
- Head Coach Gary Blair

Arkansas (20-13) played catch-up in the last few minutes of each period, but the guard-heavy Razorback squad was never able to pull away completely. That is, until the team made some adjustments.

Arkansas went from playing man defense to zone defense, and the new plan worked immediately. The Razorbacks cut their 16-point deficit in half and entered the third period down by just eight.

“What we didn’t do was execute our half-court offense from about the middle of the second quarter on,” said Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair. “They cut the lead down at the end of the first quarter, and they won or played even with us every quarter after that.”

For a majority of the game, the Aggies were aggressive on the boards and dominant in terms of inside scoring, as they out-rebounded the Razorbacks 36-32 and out-scored them 26-10 from inside the paint. However, a loss of momentum, 21 turnovers, and zero points off the bench meant that the Aggies were unable to put the game away.

The Razorbacks didn’t take the lead until just three minutes remained in the game, but once they did, they never looked back. Arkansas held Texas A&M to six points in the fourth period and closed the game on a 20-2 run to solidify their spot in the SEC championship.

Three Aggie sophomores reached double-digit figures. Ciera Johnson tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds while N’dea Jones scored 14 points and 14 rebounds. Kayla Wells also added 14 points in the game. Coming off two 31-point games in a row, Chelsea Dungee led the Razorbacks with 17 points.

“They made the threes down the stretch, and they got the offensive rebounds on long rebounds and hustle plays,” said Gary Blair. “Those are things that a championship team has to do to win, or it will cause you to lose.”

Texas A&M now awaits its fate for the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show takes place Monday, March 18 at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

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