Texas A&M bounces back from 1st loss with win over Miss St

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — No. 7 Texas A&M put its first loss of the season behind it in a big way with a 69-41 victory over No. 14 Mississippi State on Sunday.

The Aggies (13-1, 4-1 SEC), coming off a 65-61 overtime loss at unranked LSU, scored the first five points against Mississippi State (8-4, 3-3) and never trailed, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.

“We didn’t let the LSU loss discourage us from this game,” Kayla Wells said. “We came out and had a lot of energy. We knew we needed to win this game.”

Wells scored 19 points, hitting 8 of 9 field goals, including all three 3-pointers she attempted, for her best shooting effort of the season.

“We knew we needed to let the LSU game go; it was a bad loss,” Wells said. “We knew what we needed to do.”

The 6-foot Wells added a season-high five rebounds and three assists.

“It was her best, (most) complete game of the year,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. “And when we had to have her, she was just playing a complete game.”

Aaliyah Wilson added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Aggies while Ciera Johnson had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Myah Taylor scored 14 points to lead Mississippi State, which lost its second straight. Rickea Jackson added 11 points.

Texas A&M put the game away with a 17-4 run in the third quarter for a 43-25 lead, its largest of the game. Wilson had nine points, hitting 4 of 5 shots, and Wells added a pair of baskets during the spurt.

Mississippi State scored its fewest points of the season, hitting 15 of 56 field goals (26.8%), and had 17 turnovers.

“We just did not play well tonight at all,” Bulldogs coach Nikki McCray-Penson said. “We just didn’t play well, it’s that simple.”

A&M grinded its way to a 14-3 lead after a quarter, despite missing 13 of 18 field goals. Johnson had two buckets off offensive rebounds and added a free throw to give A&M a 5-0 lead.

N’dea Jones contributed a 3-point play as A&M hit all four free-throw attempts in the quarter. Mississippi State had its lowest scoring quarter in program history, managing only a 3-pointer by Aliyah Matharu. The Bulldogs went 1 for 13 in the quarter, with five turnovers, for their worst 10 minutes since the NCAA went to quarters in the women’s game for the 2015-16 season.

“They missed some shots that they normally hit,” Blair said. “And they were not getting the rebounds, because we were rebounding with five people, particularly in the first quarter.”

Mississippi State pulled to within 26-19 by halftime by outscoring A&M 7-1 in the last two minutes, with Taylor and Xaria Wiggins hitting back-to-back 3-pointers.

Jessika Carter, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 16.8 points per game, had only two points in the first half, going 2 of 4 at the line, while missing all four field goals. She missed all three field goals in the second half.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs already have lost as many league games as they did last season with 10 games left.

Texas A&M: The Aggies, who improved to 5-0 against Top 25 teams, aren’t scheduled to play another ranked team until facing No. Arkansas on Feb. 14.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State: will host No. 5 South Carolina on Jan. 28.

Texas A&M: at Missouri on Sunday.

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This story has been corrected to show that Wells scored 19, not 21, points.

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More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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