TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Texas A&M’s Shambria Washington and Aaliyah Wilson hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give the 15th-ranked Aggies a 79-74 victory over Alabama in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball action Thursday night.
Washington hit from the wing with 1 minute, 34 seconds left to give A&M (16-3, 4-2) a 72-71 lead. Alabama (11-8, 1-5) regained the lead with a pair of free throws by Jordan Lewis, but Wilson drained a 3 from the baseline corner with 30 seconds left to give A&M the lead for good at 75-73. Wilson had missed her first four 3-pointers but never hesitated after taking a pass from a driving Kayla Wells.
A&M, which overcame a 52-41 deficit midway through the third quarter, hit its last five field goals while Alabama missed its last four. The Aggies outscored Alabama 38-22 in the last 14:27.
“I thought our offensive execution was really great at that point,” A&M assistant coach Bob Starkey said on the KZNE postgame radio show. “I know we had some players that really made some plays. For as much as she struggled, how big was Aaliyah Wilson’s corner 3? And Kayla Wells hit some tough shots. Our bigs hit some tough shots. I just thought we made plays when we needed to make plays. That may sound like an oversimplification, but that’s kind of what you have to do when you’re not necessarily playing as well as you would like.”
A&M’s three Ws — Washington, Wells and Wilson — picked up the slack on the perimeter for All-American junior guard Chennedy Carter, who missed her third straight game with an ankle injury.
Washington and Wells combined to hit 7 of 9 from long range against Alabama’s zone defense to complement junior power forward N’dea Jones and junior post Ciera Johnson, who combined for 36 points.
Washington scored a career-high 20 points by hitting 6 of 8 shots, including all four 3-pointers. The 5-foot-7 senior added six rebounds and played 40 minutes as did the 6-4 Johnson, who had 15 points. Washington had hit only 9 of her last 32 field goals and that included 5 of 7 against Ole Miss.
“I think I was in rhythm,” said Washington, who had her best shooting night of the season. “I took the open shot. I was confident. I was comfortable and my teammates did a great of finding me. I was open in the flow, so I just let it go.”
The 6-2 Jones had her seventh straight double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Jones and Johnson combined to hit 10 of 16 free throws as A&M made 21 of 32 while perimeter-oriented Alabama made 10 of 13.
“I thought the difference in the game was that A&M gets to line 32 times. We get there 13,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “I thought we were able in the second half to put ourselves in a position [to win] with our rebounding and to have 15 assists and only seven turnovers. We did a lot of really, really good things. I thought they were able to make a play at the end.”
Alabama was coming off a 65-63 loss at 23rd-ranked Tennessee, which hit a game-winning 3 with .08 seconds left. The Crimson Tide took a 36-32 halftime lead via a strong second quarter from 6-3 junior forward Jasmine Walker, who scored 10 of her 18 points by hitting 4 of 6 field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Alabama then used a 14-7 run in the third quarter to take a 52-41 lead with 4:27 left. The Crimson Tide hit 5 of 7 shots during the spurt, including a 3-pointer from Cierra Johnson and layup by Ashley Knight that gave Alabama its largest lead, prompting A&M head coach Gary Blair to take a timeout.
A&M pulled within 56-51 after three quarters then hit 8 of 11 field goals in the final quarter with Jones hitting all three of her shots.
Alabama junior guard Lewis scored 17 points. Sophomore guard Megan Abrams added 11, and senior guard Johnson came off the bench for 10.
NOTES — A&M improved to 9-0 against Alabama. ... A&M improved to 5-3 in games without Carter. ... A&M returns home to play Missouri at 3 p.m. Sunday. ... A&M shot a season-best 53.3% from 3-point range (8 of 15), topping 8 of 17 against Rice on Nov. 17. ... A&M didn’t get a point from its bench, but senior guard Jasmine Williams had four rebounds and an assist in 10 minutes. ... Jones is the lone SEC player with a double-double in every conference game this season.