Williams, Walker lead No. 5 A&M over Vanderbilt
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Courtney Williams and Courtney Walker led No. 5 Texas A&M in scoring on Friday night.
But if you ask Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb, it was Jordan Jones who was the key to the Aggies’ 75-61 win over her team.
”She changed the game with her defense and then she turns around and has 15 assists,” Balcomb said of Jones. ”She controlled the game on both ends of the court. I think that’s good to see. We need to see more players like her in the SEC.”
The 15 assists were the fifth-most in A&M history and a season-high for Jones, who leads the SEC in that category, and she scored nine points.
Williams had 22 points and Walker added 17 to help the Aggies to the victory in the Southeastern Conference opener.
Jones deflected credit for her big night to her teammates.
”They were on tonight so they made my job a lot easier,” she said. ”They really gave me the opportunity to get 15 assists. It was more on them because I just give them the ball they have to make the plays.”
A 3-pointer by Rebekah Dahlman got the Commodores within five with about 8 minutes left before the Aggies used a 10-2 run to push the lead to 68-55 and Vanderbilt didn’t threaten again.
The Aggies (13-2, 1-0) have won two in a row after dropping two straight following an 11-0 start.
The game was tied early in the second half when the Aggies went on a 11-2 run, which included two three-point plays and a 3-pointer by Williams, to take a 49-40 lead.
Heather Bowe’s 16 points led Vanderbilt (8-5, 0-1).
Achiri Ade added 10 points with 11 rebounds for A&M.
Bowe made her first seven shots of the game with her first miss coming on a jump shot with less than 7 minutes remaining and finished eight of nine.
Coach Gary Blair was feeling better after sitting at the end of the bench in Wednesday’s game and leaving the play calling to associate head coach Kelly Bond-White because he was sick.
”I’ve never been sick so I don’t like it,” Blair said before turning to cough. ”I don’t like the feeling of it. I think you’re supposed to play through sickness so I did today.”
Williams got her fourth foul with 12:46 remaining and didn’t return until there were less than 4 minutes left.
The victory is A&M’s 21st straight win at home over an unranked team and extends its home winning streak against all opponents to 11 games.
The Aggies scored 20 points off 21 turnovers by Vanderbilt and outscored the Commodores 32-20 in the paint.
Texas A&M jumped out to a 10-2 lead and was up by seven after five quick points from Williams with about 13 minutes left in the first half. Vanderbilt then used a 9-0 run, powered by four points by Khaleann Caron-Goudreau, to take a 21-19 lead with less than 9 minutes left in the half. The Aggies missed four shots and had two turnovers in that span.
The Aggies were up by a basket soon after that when another 9-0 run by the Commodores, with the first four points from Bowe, put them back on top 30-23.
A&M outscored Vanderbilt 8-2 over the rest of the half to cut the lead to 32-31 at halftime.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores dropped to 8-5 in SEC openers under Balcomb. … Vanderbilt was without Rachel Bell, who didn’t make the trip because she has the flu. … Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau fouled out with about five minutes left. She had three points and three rebounds.
Texas A&M: The Aggies play two straight games on the road this week before returning home to host LSU on Sunday. … A&M’s 11-0 start was its best since going 12-0 to start the 2008-09 season. … The Aggies are 3-0 in SEC openers.
WELCOME BACK: Vanderbilt freshman Khaleann Caron-Goudreau, who is the twin sister of Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, made her season debut after sitting out the first 12 games with an ankle injury. She had 11 points, three assists and three rebounds in 22 minutes.
”I thought it was awesome,” Balcomb said of her play. ”I don’t think she’s played in five months. She was ready to go. Played smart and was aggressive and confident.”
Vanderbilt: Hosts Tennessee on Monday.
Texas A&M: At Arkansas on Sunday.