ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — The 23rd-ranked Texas A&M women’s basketball team used a 24-0 second-half run to help put away South Dakota 58-44 on Friday in the Paradise Jam at the University of the Virgin Islands Sport & Fitness Center.
Down 32-21 after Chloe Lamb’s jumper early in the third quarter, the Aggies (6-0) responded with their game-changing run. Jordan Nixon hit a 3-pointer with 7:54 left in the period to start the run, and A&M didn’t let up until Kayla Wells hit two free throws with 1:01 left in the quarter for a 45-32 lead.
South Dakota’s Liv Korngable finally ended A&M’s run with a free throw less than a minute into the fourth quarter, but by then, the Aggies had all of the momentum on their side.
“I am glad our kids responded to what we had to say at halftime,” A&M head coach Gary Blair said. “Sometimes you have to coach hard and teach hard. We have veteran leadership on this team, so they responded to it. They came out with a defensive presence and played possessed in the second half. We have to learn how to open up that way.”
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Wells led A&M in scoring with 20 points, while Nixon had 13. Destiny Pitt had a team-high 10 rebounds to go with six points. The Aggies shot just 39.6% from the field but hit 11 of 13 free throws (84.6%) and had 40 rebounds to South Dakota’s 33.
Korngable had 11 points and four rebounds for the Coyotes (2-4), and Hannah Sjerven had 10 points and six rebounds. South Dakota shot just 26.3% from the field and 24% from 3-point range, hitting 6 of 25.
“We picked up the pressure,” Blair said. “[Qadashah] Hoppie was everywhere on defense, and we did a great job of trying to win with defense first.”
Hoppie had six points, seven rebounds and two steals.
A&M opened the tournament Thursday with a 57-46 victory over Pittsburgh. The Aggies will wrap up the event at 7 p.m. Saturday against Northwestern (4-2), which beat South Dakota 73-57 on Thursday and lost to Pitt 72-60 on Friday.