COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M was struggling offensively late in the game, so coach Gary Blair told freshman Courtney Walker she had to make something happen.
Walker scored 20 points, six in the final 2 minutes, but it wasn’t enough for the 10th-ranked Aggies in a 70-66 loss to No. 8 Kentucky on Monday night.
“None of our offense was working,” Blair said. “(Kelsey) Bone was getting double-teamed and turning the ball over. I just told (Walker) to do her best Michael Jordan act, and she was doing it. She gave us a chance at the end.”
DeNesha Stallworth had 12 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record seven blocks to lead the Wildcats.
Walker scored four quick points, the last two when she drove hard to the basket for a layup, to trim Texas A&M’s deficit to 66-64 with about a minute remaining.
“I was trying to be aggressive,” the soft-spoken Walker said.
Kentucky (23-3, 11-2 SEC) missed a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, but it bounced off the rim and Stallworth batted the rebound to Bria Goss for an easy layup that made it 68-64.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell was relieved to get a little cushion with that play.
“I didn’t know if we could stop Courtney Walker again,” he said. “It was a really impressive stretch she had there.”
Walker was fouled on a made jump shot with 4 seconds left and purposely missed the ensuing free throw. But Goss grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws to seal it.
Texas A&M (20-6, 10-2) lost for the first time since a 65-62 defeat Jan. 10 at Kentucky in the first-ever meeting between the teams.
The Aggies reeled off eight straight wins after that, before Kentucky extended its winning streak to four games with Monday’s win.
“It was just a tough loss,” Texas A&M’s Kristi Bellock said. “We’re very upset with ourselves and how much harder we could have played from tip-off. It’s a learning experience and something to look at film and get better from. We’re a work in progress and we’re still working and we’re not done yet.”
Kentucky had just finished a big run when the Aggies went on one of their own, using a 16-6 spurt to cut the lead to 64-60 with about 412 minutes remaining. Kentucky’s offense went cold during that stretch and the Wildcats didn’t score for 3 minutes.
Walker had six points to power the run for the Aggies.
Texas A&M got within two early in the second half before Kentucky went on a 16-4 run to push the lead to 58-44 midway through the period. The Aggies went without scoring for more than 5 minutes and had four turnovers to help the Wildcats build the lead.
Bone, who won Southeastern Conference player of the week honors after scoring 31 points in the Aggies’ last game, was held to nine points with 10 rebounds on Monday.
“We just tried to swarm her and get as many help defenders as we could,” Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies said.
Mathies added 13 points, all in the second half, for the Wildcats. Kastine Evans scored 12 and Samarie Walker had nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Aggies committed 18 turnovers that led to 29 points for Kentucky.
Bellock had 12 points and 15 rebounds for A&M, and Adrienne Pratcher scored 12.
Texas A&M jumped out to a 9-2 lead and was up by six points with about 14 minutes left in the first half. The Wildcats used a 19-6 run to overcome the deficit and take a 28-21 advantage with 6 minutes left before halftime. Walker and Janee Thompson scored six points apiece during that span, and the Aggies had three turnovers.
Kentucky led 40-34 at halftime.