The Texas A&M women’s basketball team played well in a 93-63 exhibition loss to the U.S. national team Thursday night. Now the challenge for the sixth-ranked Aggies is to put the enjoyable experience behind them and focus on the games that count.
“Guess what we’ll be doing tomorrow?” A&M junior center Ciera Johnson said after playing star-studded Team USA. “Practice.”
The Aggies, who opened the regular season with a 78-35 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday, will host Duke at 3 p.m. Sunday at Reed Arena.
“Of course, the game might be a little bit different than [playing the U.S. team],” Johnson said. “It’s probably not going to be as fast, might not be as physical, but Duke is a good team.”
Duke (1-0) will use the game as a measuring stick, much like the Aggies did playing Team USA. Duke, which made four straight NCAA tournament Elite Eight appearances from 2010-13, is coming off a 15-15 season, its worst since going 12-15 in 1992-93.
The Blue Devils return all five starters, including senior guard Haley Gorecki, a preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference pick after averaging 17.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season. Gorecki had 15 points in a season-opening 93-57 victory over High Point. All five Duke starters scored in double figures in the win.
“They’re a solid team, and they’re going to come out and compete,” Johnson said. “So we just played USA. OK, now we have to move on. Now we get to play Duke. This game is on our record, and we have to look forward to that. Duke is not going to come in and just lay down for us just because we just got done playing the USA team.”
The 6-foot-4 Johnson had a career-high 24 points and 13 rebounds against UALR. Then against Team USA, preseason All-American Chennedy Carter had 34 points on 10-of-21 shooting. She hit 5 of 10 3-pointers in setting the scoring record by a collegiate player against the national team. The 5-7 junior guard added three assists, two blocks and a steal with only one turnover in one of her best all-around performances at A&M.
“The defensive part of her game is so much better,” A&M coach Gary Blair said.
NOTES — Sunday’s game will be a Texas homecoming for a trio of Blue Devils. Senior guard Kyra Lambert played at Samuel Clemens High School in Cibolo. Sophomore center Uchenna Nwoke is from South Grand Prairie, and 6-5 junior forward/center Jade Williams is from The Colony. ... A&M junior guard Kayla Wells played with Nwoke in high school and with Williams in AAU basketball. ... Lambert played in the season opener, her first action in 962 days since suffering an ACL injury in the first round of the 2017 NCAA tournament. “I’m super excited,” Lambert said of playing in Texas. “But I’m just so thrilled to be out here with my team honestly. Going back to Texas is going to be a great road test for us, so [we’re] ready to get it done.” ... Duke went 6-10 in the ACC last season, tying for 10th. Duke was picked to finish seventh in the ACC this season by the league’s coaches. ... Duke has lost to nine straight ranked teams. ... Duke is the ACC’s tallest team, averaging just over 6-0 per player. ... A&M leads the all-time series 5-1, including a 77-63 victory in the 2008 Sweet 16. It was the first of three matchups between the two when both were in the Top 10. The last three games were decided by four points or less. No. 5 Duke won 61-58 over No. 7 A&M in 2010; No. 7 A&M defeated No. 8 Duke 63-59 in ’14; and No. 12 A&M beat No. 14 Duke 72-66 in ’15.