Aggies Fall to Pioneers in Nail-Biter
At 2 p.m. on Jan. 21 in the Aggie Gym, the Cameron women’s basketball team lost in close fashion against Texas Woman’s University (TWU), 59-57.
The Aggies now sit at a 7-11 overall record on the season, and a Lone Star Conference record of 5-5.
The TWU Pioneers, however, move up to 7-9 overall and 4-6 within the conference.
The game revolved around defense from start to finish, with neither team’s offense really heating up until the fourth period.
Cameron junior forward Lejha Smith led the Aggies in scoring with 15 points and recorded her sixth double-double of the season.
Cameron head coach Emma Andrews said Smith has had a huge impact on the team this year.
“She brings a lot of grit under the rim,” she said, “and brings tons of confidence to the team. She’s a great rebounder and just knows how to make her presence known.”
Cameron sophomore guard Ava Battese and junior guard Parfitt McNair also claimed their own double-doubles for the team, each scoring 12 and 11 points respectively.
For TWU, senior forward Alexis Nezianya led the Pioneers with her own double-double, matching 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The game started out slowly for both teams. Defense ruled the opening minutes of the first period, with turnovers and cold-shooting dominating both sides.
The Pioneers finally broke the stalemate with a layup, but could not manage to keep that streak going.
After a strong five-point run, the Aggies finished the first period up 15-13, carrying some momentum into the second.
However, that momentum became quickly stifled, as the offensive woes for the Aggies unraveled with their inability to score consistently.
The Pioneers took full-advantage, ending the second period with their own five-point run and outscoring the Aggies 15-9 in the period.
Nezianya scored three consecutive baskets, allowing TWU to take the lead into halftime, 28-24.
The first half consisted of rough play for both offenses, as the Aggies shot field goals at a rate of 34.6% and the Pioneers at a slightly better 40%.
Both teams turned the ball over 12 times, and both teams also claimed 19 rebounds.
The third period saw the Pioneers dominating for the first few minutes, scoring nine unanswered points.
The cold streak from the Aggies put TWU up with the largest lead of the game at 11 points with two minutes to go.
Despite two free throws from Cameron senior guard Briana Underwood to finish the period, the game headed into the fourth with the Aggies down 43-36.
The fourth period started with the Aggies’ offense rallying to a 9-1 run, putting them within the striking distance of one possession. With 1:54 to go, the Aggies tied the game 55-55 after Battese sank a three-pointer.
The Aggies then retook the lead for the first time since the second period, 57-56, after two consecutive free throws from junior guard Amaka Nwakamma at the 30 second mark.
However, Nezianya retook the lead for the Pioneers with a layup, and the Aggies’ retaliatory, game-winning shot rolled off the rim.
A foul from the rebound of the missed shot saw Nezianya go 1-2 from the line and win the game for TWU as time expired.
Andrews said she was not disappointed in the team.
“The girls did a good job filling the gaps we had from injuries,” she said. “Nobody gave up and we’ve learned a lot from these tight game situations.
It was a hard loss, but the team put in really good effort with the 11-point comeback.”
Cameron had fewer turnovers and more rebounds at the end of the game, but more consistent shooting from the Pioneers gave TWU the win.
The Aggies visit Tarleton State at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 25 for their next conference match-up.
The Tarleton State Texans sit at 12-6 overall and 6-4 in conference play.
Andrews said the preparation for Tarleton State is not much different from how the team prepares for anybody else.
“Every team is a little different, but we’ll prepare how we always do,” she said. “We will use our practice opponents to make adjustments on defense, and try to figure out who we will give shots up to.”