Women’s basketball loses in final minute to Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament

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Women’s basketball loses in final minute to Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

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COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Despite shooting an impressive 48 percent from the field, No. 5 Marquette women’s basketball fell 78-76 to No. 4 Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon.

“I am incredibly proud of our team,” head coach Carolyn Kieger said. “This is tough. This senior class has meant so much to our program, myself and our staff. I hate that it had to end this way for them. We wanted it really, really bad.”

MU will lose seniors Natisha Hiedeman, Allazia Blockton, Amani Wilborn, Danielle King, Erika Davenport and Sandra Dahling next season. Every senior except Dahling scored at least 1,000 career points. Davenport’s collegiate career had already ended with a season-ending knee injury in BIG EAST play Feb. 23 against Butler.

“I will take my team any day. I will take these seniors any day,” Kieger said. “I know they are going to do amazing things. They represented Marquette with class, integrity and heart every single day.”

The Golden Eagles finished with a 27-8 record, which set a program record for most wins in a single season.

“I just had a lot of fun at Marquette,” Hiedeman said. “It was a lot more than just basketball here. I got amazing coaches and amazing sisters. Even though (playing at) Marquette is over with, I know that we’re still going to stay together and be the best of friends.”

Marquette had a very productive start to the game. The Golden Eagles scored more points in the first quarter than they did in all of the first half in their game against Rice. However, the Golden Eagles struggled to defend against the Aggies’ size.

Marquette had the lead as late as the 36-second mark in the fourth quarter, but Texas A&M guard Shambria Washington hit a 3-pointer with 23 seconds to give the Aggies a later lead.

“The momentum shift was always back and forth,” Hiedeman said. “We had it going for a little bit, but Texas A&M just came right back with their shots.”

The Golden Eagles had opportunities to tie or take the lead in the final 23 seconds but could not take advantage.

Hiedeman led MU with 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting. Blockton and King followed with 15 points each.

“(Hiedeman) is a fighter,” Kieger said. “I thought she played with a lot of heart, a lot of emotion today, and I thought she was locked in mentally.”

Redshirt sophomore Lauren Van Kleunen posted a season-best 14 points.

Sophomore guard Chennedy Carter led Texas A&M with 30 points on 12-for-28 shooting. The Aggies had four other players finish with double-digit point totals as well.

“Carter is a phenomenal player,” Kieger said. “We had trouble shutting them down … (and) stopping (Carter) and her offensive rebounds.”

Defensively, N’dea Jones and Ciera Johnson combined for 25 of the Aggies’ 42 total rebounds. Jones and Johnson also both had double-doubles on the day.

Looking ahead to next season, Marquette will have eight freshmen join the team.

“We talked in the locker room to the underclassmen to carry the torch on,” Kieger said. “(The seniors) have set the bar. Now it’s up to us to keep working towards it to get this program to where we want it to go.”

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