Walker leads No. 5 Texas A&M over New Mexico
CHICAGO (AP) With suspended starter Courtney Williams sidelined for the foreseeable future it fell to teammate Courtney Walker to again pick up the slack Texas A&M.
The fifth-ranked Aggies junior guard scored 20 points in a 66-52 victory over New Mexico on Saturday in a Maggie Dixon Classic match at DePaul.
But she also logged 36 minutes, causing some concern for Texas A&M coach Gary Blair. Walker also played 36 minutes in Friday's 76-68 victory over the host Blue Demons, a practice likely to continue until Williams returns from an open-ended suspension.
''I'm wearing her out just because no one else is hitting,'' Blair said. ''Walker wants (Williams) back in a hurry. Her arm's getting tired.''
Neither Blair nor the school has elaborated on the reason for Williams' suspension, although she continues to practice with the team.
Walker topped the Aggies (2-0) for the second straight game. Bryce Owens scored 15 points while Khadijah Schumpert added 13 for the Lobos (0-2) in the match at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
Texas A&M led early and throughout most of the opening half as Walker scored 10 first half points.
But the Aggies shot only 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) on the way to a 27-26 halftime lead, considerably less productive compared to Friday when they had 37 points and 53.6 percent shooting in an opening half against No. 18. DePaul.
But Texas A & M opened the second half with eight unanswered points, including back-to-back fast-break lays from Tori Scott. The advantage reached 14 points by the 3:09 mark on freshman Khaalia Hillsman's jumper.
''We started attacking the basket instead of shooting jump shots,'' Blair said. ''We wanted Walker to shoot the jump shots and everybody attack, try to get to the free throw line and our shooting percentage went to 53 (percent) which is where I expect it to be.''
A&M shot 15-for-28 (53.6 percent) in the second half while New Mexico struggled with 20-for-65 shooting (30.8 percent) for the game.
''Their defense is tremendous,'' said Lobos coach Yvonne Sanchez. ''They do a great job of getting up in your face, they do a good job of switching when they're supposed to. And I think we hurried some of our shots, too.''
The Aggies improved to 3-0 all-time against the Lobos in a series that dates back to 2008.
The Maggie Dixon Classic salutes the former DePaul assistant and Army head coach who died from a heart arrhythmia in 2006.
Texas A & M: The three-day weekend tournament is a homecoming for Hillsman, a two-time state champion at Chicago's Whitney Young High School. She debuted with 10 points and six rebounds against DePaul on Friday. She started Saturday and had eight points plus nine rebounds.
New Mexico: The Lobos got off to a rocky start in their season opener on Friday with 28 turnovers, including 18 in the first half. On Saturday against Texas A & M they cut it to nine in the first half and had 18 for the game.
Texas A & M plays Texas-Pan American on Sunday at DePaul
New Mexico plays host and No. 18 DePaul on Sunday.
STAT LINE: Walker needs just 27 points to reach 1,000 for her Aggies career. She'd be the 26th and first since 2011-12. Walker has scored in double figures in 15 straight games dating back to 2012-14,
ON THE RISE: Lobos freshman guard Cherise Beynon played 22 minutes in her second start and collected five rebounds but struggled from the field with four points on 1-of-11 shooting.