COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)Kayla Wells scored 14 points and No. 7 Texas A&M overcame a slow start with strong defense late to beat LSU 54-41 on Thursday night.
The Aggies (17-1, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) have won five in a row since LSU (8-8, 6-4) handed them their only loss, in overtime on Jan. 14.
Khayla Pointer scored 12 points to lead LSU, which scored its fewest points of the season.
Texas A&M led by two after three quarters and scored the first 10 points of the fourth to push its lead to 49-37 with about six minutes left. Aaliyah Wilson and Destiny Pitts got things going in that stretch, making back-to-back 3s.
”I think those 3s gave us a lot of momentum to propel the run we went on in the fourth quarter,” Pitts said.
The Tigers finally got on the board in the fourth when Faustine Aifuwa made a free throw with 4 1/2 minutes to go. LSU had six turnovers and missed 10 shots before Pointer made the team’s only field goal of the period, a 3 with 29 seconds left.
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair raved about his team’s defense in the fourth quarter.
”It was wonderful,” he said. ”They were missing some shots that they normally hit, but they also weren’t getting the post touches they wanted.”
Blair said his team didn’t get discouraged after falling behind by double digits early.
”We never give up,” he said. ”We just keep finding a way. With the defense, sometimes it takes a while to kick in.”
The Tigers were up by as many as 10 in the first half and had a nine-point lead early in the third quarter after a layup by Awa Trasi. The Aggies then used a 10-4 run, with six points from Wells, to get within 33-31 with about four minutes left in the quarter.
The Tigers were without coach Nikki Fargas for the second straight game because of COVID-19 contact tracing issues related to an external media obligation. Assistant coach Charlene Thomas-Swinson filled in for her.
”Our inability to score the basketball in the third and fourth quarters weighed on us and limited what we were able to do on defense,” Thomas-Swinson said.
She added that Texas A&M’s second-half defense on LSU’s post players made things difficult.
”They started packing it in on our bigs … and they forced our guards to have to score the ball,” she said. ”Then we really got into a scoring drought and it allowed them to have conversions on the other end.”
The Aggies will need to play a lot better on Sunday if they expect to beat No. 16 Arkansas.
WELL-WISHES FOR FARGAS
Blair couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be for Fargas to not be with her team.
”Nikki not being here, I feel for her,” he said. ”That’s tough. If I had to sit at home and do it by Zoom, I would go bananas. I’ve never missed a game in my life. Hopefully Nikki gets back right away.”
LSU: The Tigers host Florida next Thursday night.
Texas A&M: The Aggies had their Feb. 14 game against Arkansas moved up to Sunday after their scheduled game against No. 18 Tennessee was postponed because of the Volunteers’ coronavirus issues.
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