Aggies hold on to beat Highlanders

Texas A&M center Ciera Johnson shoots between UC Riverside’s Daphne Gnago and Malou De Kergret in the fourth quarter of the Aggies’ 70-63 win in the Maui Jim Maui Classic on Friday. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

LAHAINA — The Texas A&M women’s basketball team got all it could handle on the eve of its showdown with No. 8 Oregon State on Friday night at the Maui Jim Maui Classic.

The Aggies, who are two spots away from The Associated Press Top 25, held on for a 70-63 victory over UC Riverside in the opener of the tournament at the Lahaina Civic Center.

It was a two-point game with just under 3 minutes left in the third quarter before Chennedy Carter scored eight unanswered points for the Aggies (7-2) in a span of 16 seconds to push the lead to 55-45. She had two steals and two 3-point plays in the rush.

UC Riverside got back within 61-57, but Carter answered with a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 64-57 with 6:28 to play.

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair is looking forward to his sophomore point guard matching up against Oregon State’s Destiny Slocum, the national freshman of the year two seasons ago for Maryland.

Texas A&M guard Chennedy Carter goes to the basket as UC Riverside’s (from left) Jannon Otto, Daphne Gnago and Marina Ewodo defend Friday. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Aggies and Beavers meet tonight at 7:30 p.m.

“That’s what she’s all about,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said of Carter. “Tomorrow you are going to see two of the top-five point guards in the country and that’s what it’s all about. That’s why we’re here, not for the suntan, but to play Oregon State.”

Carter scored 22 of her game-high 26 points in the second half — her backcourt mate, Aaliyah Wilson, went down with an apparent knee injury early in the second half. The former McDonald’s All-American who came into the game averaging 14.9 points finished the night with five points.

Blair hoped Wilson’s injury is not as serious as it first appeared.

“When the Wilson kid went out — hopefully not the dreaded word –we had no scoring, so I had to call every play for Carter,” Blair said. “You’re not going to win against top-10 teams that way. You’ve got to execute what you have and I’ve got to have other players step up.”

The Aggies’ Dea Jones and the Highlanders’ Keilanei Cooper battle for a loose ball. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Ciera Johnson added 18 points and seven rebounds for A&M.

The Highlanders (2-7) shot 75 percent (12-for-16) in the third quarter.

“They shot the ball extremely well in the second half,” Blair said. “They missed a few in the fourth, but give them credit. We were not close enough and that’s why we only forced nine turnovers.”

UC Riverside was led by 21 points from Marina Ewodo.

The Highlanders will be back in the 50th state on Jan. 30 to play Hawaii in Big West Conference play — they meet Eastern Washington today at 5:30 at the LCC.

“Obviously, they’re a really good team, they really are, they have so many weapons,” UC Riverside coach John Margaritis said of the Aggies. “For a few moments there we were able to kind of stay with them. I think it was a good game for us in that we need to keep learning to compete. When we get into our own conference, it will be a little bit different.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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MAUI JIM MAUI CLASSIC

At Lahaina Civic Center

Friday’s Results

Texas A&M 70, UC Riverside 63

Oregon St. 93, Eastern Washington 45

Today’s Games

UC Riverside vs. Eastern Washington, 5:30 p.m.

Oregon St. vs. Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m.

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Friday’s Results

WOMEN

EAST

NJIT 71, Colgate 53

Villanova 62, Georgia 56

SOUTH

Florida Gulf Coast 109, Johnson & Wales (FL) 64

Georgia Southern 68, Coastal Georgia 46

Mississippi St. 86, Southern Miss. 42

Nicholls 55, Louisiana-Monroe 54

North Carolina 83, UNC-Greensboro 62

MIDWEST

Bradley 80, Nebraska-Omaha 60

S. Dakota St. 97, Savannah St. 49

SOUTHWEST

Oral Roberts 73, Sam Houston St. 62

Texas A&M-CC 64, Schreiner 34

FAR WEST

Cal St.-Fullerton 77, Antelope Valley College 65

Fresno St. 86, Cal State Stanislaus 51

Loyola Marymount 71, Long Beach St. 62

Oregon St. 93, Eastern Washington 45

Texas A&M 70, UC Riverside 63

MEN

EAST

George Washington 70, Howard 64

SOUTH

Georgia Southern 101, Brewton-Parker College 64

MIDWEST

Creighton 86, Green Bay 65

DePaul 90, Ill.-Chicago 70

North Dakota 83, Mayville State 66

SOUTHWEST

Arkansas St. 75, FAU 71, 2OT

Houston Baptist 107, Arlington Baptist 70

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