COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)Texas A&M proved it can win big without plenty of points from star guard Chennedy Carter.
Ciera Johnson scored 17 points and N’dea Jones grabbed 13 rebounds as the Aggies cruised to a 79-35 victory over Mississippi on Monday night.
“Great defense tonight – great defense,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. “I was able to rotate all 11 kids in, and we shared the basketball. Everything we ran was working.”
The Aggies (14-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) jumped to a 37-19 lead at halftime, despite Carter not collecting her first field goal until 2:51 remained in the first half of A&M’s league home opener. Carter entered the contest averaging 23.2 points per game, but scored 13 points against the Rebels (7-8, 0-2 SEC), with 11 of those coming in the second half.
Shambria Washington and Johnson combined for more points in the first half (23) than the Rebels scored over the first two quarters. Washington, who finished with a season-high 12 points, made 5-of-6 field goals in the decisive first half, including both of her 3-point attempts in helping launch the Aggies to a ninth consecutive victory.
“They left me open, so I shot the ball a little more,” Washington said. “Chennedy is a great passer, and she’s great at finding open people.”
The Aggies re-entered the top 10 on Monday for the first time since falling out after an 80-58 loss to current No. 11 Florida State on Dec. 1. The Rebels were led by Deja Cage with 15 points – the only Mississippi player in double digits – and were held to a season-low in points.
“We didn’t expect Shambria to make the shots she made, and that threw us off big time,” Rebels coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “She made us pay for it, and dug us a pretty good hole. On the road, you’ve got to make shots, and we’ll have to go back to the drawing board as far as that is concerned.”
Mississippi was 5-of-24 from the 3-point line (20.8 percent), with Cage making 3-of-10 from that distance. The Aggies shot 55.7 percent from the field (34 of 61) compared to the Rebels’ 27.5 percent (14 of 51).
The Aggies held a 44-23 rebounding advantage, tying their largest margin of the season (plus 21), with Cage also leading the Rebels with eight rebounds.
“You can play great defense, but if you don’t rebound the basketball, it doesn’t matter,” Johnson said. “We worked this week on boxing out and rebounding.”
Mississippi: The Rebels have lost six of eight games dating to late November, and following another blowout loss don’t figure to snap out of their funk any time soon.
Texas A&M: The surging Aggies have a lone setback on their resume, a head-scratching 22-point loss to Florida State, and Carter has plenty of complementary teammates who are finding their groove.
A&M guard Kayla Wells launched a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter and Carter, who’d passed the ball to Wells across the top of the key, threw up her arms in jubilation.
HE SAID IT
“The practice we had on Saturday – it looked like we were 1-13. We took it a little easier on Sunday.” Gary Blair on his team’s rugged preparation for its SEC home opener.
The Rebels host Tennessee on Thursday night.
The Aggies host LSU on Thursday night.