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Aggies women's basketball hits the floor for first official practice

(KBTX)
Published: Sep. 24, 2019 at 4:52 PM CDT
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Texas A&M's women's basketball team opened its 2019-20 season with its first official practice Tuesday inside the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball. Coming off of back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances, Texas A&M has been as high as No. 4 nationally in early preseason rankings.

The Aggies are the only team to reach last season's Sweet 16 to return every starter, with 94-percent of the team's points, and four double-figure scorers, coming back to Aggieland. The team went 26-8 during the 2018-19 season, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the 14th consecutive year. Texas A&M finished third in the SEC with a 12-4 record, and reached the semifinals of the SEC tournament for the third straight March.

With a healthy Aaliyah Wilson, who started the first nine games last season, but was then sidelined the rest of the year due to injury, Texas A&M returns six players who were primarily starters to the squad. Wilson averaged 13.8 points and ranked among the conference’s leaders in assist-turnover ratio (13th), blocks (11th) and steals (10th) at the time of her injury.

Two-time All-American Chennedy Carter averaged 23.3 points to break her own Texas A&M single-game scoring record in 2018-19. She became the second player to lead the NCAA Tournament in scoring average in consecutive seasons, joining Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne.

Kayla Wells was the most-improved scorer in the Southeastern Conference last season, raising her average from 2.8 to 15.1 points per game. She hit a game-winning shot with 5.3 seconds left against Auburn in the SEC Tournament—as she scored 28 points in the game, the most for an Aggie in an SEC Tournament game.

N’dea Jones led the team in rebounds with 11.3 per game. She became the first Texas A&M player to have two games of 20+ rebounds in the same season, and set a Texas A&M sophomore record with 384 rebounds.

Ciera Johnson, the center, averaged 12.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. She led the team with 35 blocks and added 12 double doubles. Shambria Washington stepped into the starting lineup after Wilson’s injury, and led the SEC with 37.4 minutes per conference game. Washington hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 22.9 seconds left against Marquette to send A&M to the Sweet 16.

Additionally, Aahliyah Jackson, Cheah Rael-Whitsitt and Jasmine Williams return for the Aggies, while freshman McKinzie Green and newly-eligible transfer Anna Dreimane look to make their debuts in Maroon and White this season.

Hall of Fame head coach Gary Blair returns for his 17th season as the leader of the Aggie program. Under Blair, who is nine wins away from becoming the fifth active coach with 800 for their career, the Aggies have made seven Sweet 16s, three Elite Eights, and won the 2011 NCAA National Championship.

"This is a veteran team. They've got a little bit of ego, and they've got a little bit of unfinished business. It's nice to get to Sweet 16 but I was sixteen once I couldn't wait till I got to seventeen. So, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to get to that next level get back to the Elite Eight, Sweet 16, and the conference championships," said head coach Gary Blair.

"I feel like opportunity is always there it's up to use whether or not we're gonna take it, grab it and do something with it. I mean we're a good team and like you said we have a lot of talent returning, but we still gotta put in the work each day and everyday at practice," said guard Chennedy Carter.

An affordable, family entertainment option, women’s basketball season tickets begin as low as $100. Fans can contact the 12th Man Foundation at 1-888-99-AGGIE or log on to 12thMan.com/Tickets to reserve season tickets.