Carter helps Texas A&M beat Drake 89-76
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Gary Blair and Texas A&M played to their strength to beat pesky Drake.
Freshman Chennedy Carter scored 26 points and the fourth-seeded Aggies beat 13th-seed Drake 89-76 on Friday in the opening round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
“We can’t be Drake and get 30 assists in a ball game because we can create off the bounce as well as any team in the country,” said Blair, whose team scored 50 in the paint. “So that’s our strength. Our inside game is our strength.”
Blair’s Aggies used full-court pressure to move comfortably in front in the second quarter in to an 89-76 win, but the Aggie coach had no interest in doing that for too long either.
“What worked in the second half?” Blair asked and answered. “We ran set plays instead of transition. We got 57 points in the first. I was trying to shorten the game to save legs, to make them play defense a little bit longer.”
Khaalia Hillsman added 22 to help send the Aggies to the second round against DePaul. Carter, who had 19 in the opening half, had a complete game. She also had 11 assists, five rebounds and six steals. Some of those steals were made as she became A&M’s last line of defense. Carter, who has been limited at times this season by foul trouble, did not pick up a personal foul. A&M only had six as a team. Drake shot three free throws in the game.
“We kind of moved the ball a little bit,” said Carter. “We had a lot of open and easy shots, and everybody finished out there tonight.”
A&M had an answer for every comeback try to Drake. Danni Williams hit a 3-pointer with 5:44 left put the Aggies back into a 15-point lead.
Drake, which had 29 assists in the game, got as close as 85-76 when Maddy Dean hit a runner in the lane, but A&M moved down court and passed to Hillsman, who scored easily.
Sara Rhine scored 21 had for Drake (26-8) and had a nearly perfect offensive day. She hit 10 of 11 from the field and made her only free throw. Becca Hittner had 19 for Drake (26-8).
The Aggies (25-9) broke the game open in the second quarter, building a 57-42 halftime edge. A&M outshot the Bulldogs from 3-point range in the opening half, with Carter and Danni Williams each hitting three of four. Williams hit four of seven 3s overall and scored 18.
Drake led, 28-26 after a fast-paced first quarter where the Bulldogs hit 12 of 17 shots. It the second quarter the Aggies held them to 12 of 17 shooting and Carter scoring 12 of her points as A&M began to build a big edge.
“We didn’t move,” said Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk, who felt her team passed up open shots worrying about A&M’s quickness. “We passed a lot around the perimeter. They upped their pressure and that’s when we’re at our best, is when people do that and we can back cut out of it or we can start to read screens better. And we stopped doing that. We just started passing around the basket.”
Hillsman, who was weary after the run-and-gun opening to the game, played 13 first-half minutes, but A&M’s inside game was efficient. For the game, she made 10 of her 14 shots. Anriel Howard also contributed inside with some late drives to keep A&M’s lead in double digits. Howard finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Texas A&M moved to the second round on the Aggies’ home court for the second time in the last three years. Anriel Howard, who set an NCAA tournament record with 27 rebounds in A&M’s 2016 first-round home win over Missouri State, led the Aggies with 10 rebounds this year. A&M has advanced to the second round for the 11th time in the past 12 years. The Aggies have never lost in six first-round games at home.
ENDING THE STREAK
Texas A&M’s win halted a 21-game winning streak by Drake.
Rhine only missed once on an active day. The 6-1 Drake sophomore hit 10 of 11 shots from the field and sank her only free throw. She also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Texas A&M will play DePaul Sunday in the second round. The Blue Demons took a 90-79 win over Oklahoma.