Walker helps No. 5 Texas A&M hold off UTPA 63-61
CHICAGO (AP) After struggles in three season-opening games, Texas A&M women's coach Gary Blair isn't convinced his No. 5 Aggies deserve such a lofty ranking.
"We won three on the road and we're going to take it and learn," Blair said after Texas A&M (3-0) escaped with a 63-61 victory over upset-minded Texas-Pan American on Sunday. "(But) after that performance for three games we're overrated. We've got a lot of basketball IQ problems that we need to improve on."
Courtney Walker scored 17 points, Taylor Cooper had 11, Jordan Jones added 10 while Achiri Ade had 16 rebounds as the Aggies won the four-team Maggie Dixon Classic championship at DePaul.
T'ondria Nolen paced Texas-Pan American (1-2) with 14 points, Shawnte' Goff had 13 while Hild Kjartansdottir and Brittany Bush added 10 apiece.
Trailing 40-33 at the half, Texas A&M scored 11 of the first 13 points in the second half to take a 44-42 lead on Walker's jumper at the 13:44 mark. With four minutes to play the Aggies extended it to 57-48 but the Broncs replied with a 9-2 run to make it a two-point game with 2:06 left.
The Aggies hit 4-of-6 free throw tries in the final 1:47 to stay ahead.
"The only way we won the game was by going small and attacking their zone that they played in the second half," Blair said. "Walker finally started moving and penetrating and getting some looks. Jordan started directing traffic, but she's got to (also) do it in the first half."
The Broncs sprinted to an early 22-10 lead built on early 4-for-4 shooting beyond the arc, including two from Kjartansdottir. The Aggies chipped away and briefly cut the deficit to 29-28 on Jones' three-point play. But Pan American replied and led 40-33 at the half.
"We hit (early) shots then we went to the rim in the second half and missed layups," said Pan American coach Larry Tidwell. "It was frustrating, we played good enough to make some things happen."
Texas A&M improved to 7-0 all-time against Texas-Pan American. The teams had not met since 2001, a 65-48 Aggie victory.
The Maggie Dixon Classic salutes the former DePaul assistant and Army head coach who died from a heart arrhythmia in 2006.
Texas A&M: Walker now needs just 10 points to hit 1,000 for her career. She'd be the 26th Aggie to hit the milestone. The weekend tournament at DePaul was a homecoming for Texas A&M freshman Khaalia Hillsman and assistant coach Kelly Bond-White. Both attended Whitney Young High School.
Texas-Pan American: The Broncs play two more ranked teams on the road over the next three weeks: No. 9 Texas on Nov. 26 and No. 8 Baylor on Dec. 3. Pan-American returns to Chicago on Jan. 10 for a Western Athletic Conference match at Chicago State.
Texas A&M hosts Rice in Wednesday's home opener
Texas-Pan American hosts Texas A&M Kingsville on Wednesday.
After holding a 20-19 halftime rebounding lead the Aggies attacked the boards in the second half with a 27-13 edge as Ade added has 11 of her game-high 16. Texas A&M had a 17-7 defensive edge in the second half.
ON THE RISE:
Kjartansdottir, a freshman from Iceland, got off to a hot start making two of her first three 3-pointers and closed with 10 points and nine rebounds in 34 minutes of play.