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Photo by © David Yeazell
Texas A&M Women's Basketball

A&M's magical run in the SEC Tourney ends with 77-60 loss to Ole Miss

March 3, 2023
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All Cinderella stories must come to an end. 

While No. 13-seed Texas A&M garnered plenty of magic the last couple of days, No. 4-seed Ole Miss waltzed past the Aggies in the quarterfinal round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday afternoon, 77-60.

A poor performance in conference play doomed A&M’s chances of receiving an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.

Therefore, they won’t be dancing at the royal ball for the second straight year as they needed to win out to gain admission with an automatic bid.

Despite Joni Taylor’s first chapter with the Aggies officially coming to a finish, there’s still plenty to be applauded as she prepares to turn the page on a new season.

The Aggies battled through one of the most demanding schedules in the nation. For a handful of games, they only had seven players available.

The final win-loss column may not reflect it, but the Aggies took all adversity in stride. Their fighting spirit never exhausted.

“This is a season of sowing. Then there will be a season of harvest later. But for this year, it’s about laying the foundation and every day showing up, being better today than you were yesterday.”
- A&M head coach Joni Taylor

It was evident when they shocked the college basketball world by becoming the second-lowest seed in SEC Tournament history to play in the quarterfinals. 

All the lessons learned are bound to guide Taylor’s future with the Aggies. 

“This is a season of sowing,” Taylor said. “Then there will be a season of harvest later, but for this year, it’s about laying the foundation and every day showing up, being better today than you were yesterday.

“So it’s honestly back to the things that we always talk about; building a foundation, trusting the process and putting people around you who are going to be on the same train with you going in the right direction.

“And we're building a bridge as we cross it, so that's who we are. And that's what we started building in this team when we got here. You can see that, I think over the last two days and even moments today. You can see the growth that happened over the year. We've had a lot of challenges.”

A&M’s remarkable run in the SEC Tournament may have continued if it weren’t for Ole Miss guard Angel Baker.

She played the part of the evil stepmother as she tallied a game-high 23 points while shooting a scorching 83 percent.

All-SEC Freshman selection Janiah Barker kept pace with Baker with 22 of her own — just two points shy of tying her career-high — and 10 rebounds. Sahara Jones and Aaliyah Patty each had 10.

But for the most part, it was obvious the Aggies lost their glass slipper on offense. Point guard Kay Kay Green’s absence due to concussion protocol left a sizable void in A&M’s production. 

© David Yeazell
Despite a turbulent season, Joni Taylor’s first year in Aggieland ends with two wins in the SEC Tournament. 

They only converted 34 percent of their shots and gave away 22 turnovers.

Playing their third straight game in as many days, they were just too tired to keep writing their story.

Taylor won’t justify that as an excuse, though. 

“Fatigue. I'm not gonna give us that. Ole Miss put pressure on us, they were really good defensively,” Taylor said. “[Yolett McPhee-McCuin] has them playing at a really, really high level right now.”

The Aggies cut the deficit down to just two points before the Rebels carried a 40-29 advantage into halftime.

Ole Miss kept A&M at arm’s length the rest of the way.

Barker hit a jumper and nailed a triple with 2:28 to play in the fourth. But the Rebels still led 75-51.

Patty added back-to-back scores with a perfect trip to the line and a layup before Barker banked another basket.

Yet, the magic had arrived too late.

The clock had already struck midnight.

 
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