College Station, TX -- After almost a year since their last encounter, the #12 Texas A&M Aggies and #23 Tennessee Volunteers stepped onto the court Sunday afternoon for the 8th meeting between the two teams. The Aggies proved victorious -- avoiding a three-game losing streak in their overall record as well as breaking the series streak of four losses to the Volsâwith a final overtime score of 76-71.
Aggies senior guard Jordan Jones was carried off the court on a stretcher with 24.9 seconds left, down 61-59 in regulation. She took the brunt end of what can only be called the offensive foul heard ‘round the world â committed by Vols sophomore guard Jaime Nared.
"They played for their point guard who sacrificed her body," said Vols guard Andraya Carter. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to her. Her team had her back for her. They fought hard for her, which they should, she's a great player."
Aggies freshman forward Anriel Howard made a two-point basket with 5.2 seconds left to tie the game. The Vols had one more play, but could not finish the game. At the end of regulation, the score was 61-61.
"I finally just grabbed it and turned around and shot it because I knew the clock was clicking down. I just thought about Jordan [Jones] and was like ‘I've gotta make it,'" said Howard.
This was the third overtime win for the Aggies this season. They won the previous two against ranked opponents Duke and Missouri. It was also the sixth straight game for the Aggies where the game came down to the final minute of play.
Despite the last ten intense minutes of the game, it was a slow start offensively for both teams. Halfway through the first quarter, the score was only 5-3 in favor of the Aggies. Kortney Dunbar came off the bench for the Vols providing a much-needed spark by hitting three consecutive three-pointers to tie the game 14-14 at the end of the first.
The Aggies adjusted their game plan against Dunbar in the second quarter, coming out of the zone and not allowing her to score again in the half. The Vols still found a way to stay almost even with A&M, ending the half down only one with a score of 30-29.
At the end of the third quarter, the Vols led 51-40. The Aggies last lead was by 1 point at halftime. The Vols' had the only double-figure scorer in Jordan Reynolds through those three-quarters. Reynolds was the leading scorer for the Vols, finishing the game with 16.
The largest lead for either team was 13 by Tennessee. Almost every Vols player who had minutes in Sunday's game had at least one foul.
"I felt good about the game, and like I said, we couldn't finish the deal," said Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick.
Aggies senior guard Courtney Walker led all scorers with 29. She was two points shy of tying her career high that was recorded in A&M's previous game versus Florida on Feb. 4.
"Think about what she does for our team to keep us in the ball games that we're in. She's had so many poor first halves and finished strong like she has. She's a special player," said Aggies head coach Gary Blair about Walker.
This win gives the Aggies sole possession of fourth place in the SEC standings.
The Aggies stay home for their next game on Feb. 11 versus Mississippi State at 6 p.m. The Vols remain on the road at Vanderbilt, also playing on the 11th at 8 p.m.