Jailin Cherry and LSU got the defensive stops — and the upset — they wanted.
Cherry scored 12 points, drew a big charge late in the game and LSU toppled No. 10 Texas A&M 57-54 on the road on Thursday after Aggies star guard Chennedy Carter left in the first half with a left ankle injury.
A&M coach Gary Blair said the two-time All-American should begin to lightly work out soon, and ideally be ready for their game at No. 14 Kentucky on Thursday. Carter made an off-balanced jump shot in the paint with 3:03 remaining in the first half before falling to the floor with the injury. Teammates Ciera Johnson and N’dea Jones helped her off the court.
Carter returned to the bench in the second half with a walking boot on her foot. The Tigers snapped Texas A&M’s nine-game win streak and kept from losing two straight games for the first time this season.
“For a minute it was, dang, she’s not coming back in, but we’ve got to finish the game,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to find a way to finish with Chennedy, or without Chennedy.”
The Aggies’ Shambria Washington missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer, and the Tigers defeated a top 10 team on the road for the first time since Jan. 2, 2014, in an 80-77 victory at No. 5 Tennessee. LSU was No. 16 at that time.
“We knew it was going to be a battle defensively,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said of Thursday’s showdown. “We got the stops we needed, and we were able to hold on to the lead.”
Cherry drew a charge on Jones in the lane with 27.1 seconds left with the Tigers (12-3, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) leading 55-54. The Aggies (14-2, 2-1 SEC) then fouled Awa Trasi on the inbounds pass, and she made both free throws to put the Tigers on top 57-54 with 25.9 seconds remaining.
Jones led the Aggies with 19 points and 12 rebounds, both game highs.
The home team had won the seven previous regular-season games prior to Thursday in the series that dates to 1979 and spans 28 games. The Tigers also evened the all-time series at 14 wins each.
The Tigers, coming off a surprising 69-65 setback at 4-12 Missouri on Sunday, snapped out of their short funk in upsetting a top 10 team – albeit one without its star player for most of the game.
“When you play a team like A&M they have different weapons, and it was a credit to Coach Blair and his staff that they adjusted with the loss of Carter, and started pounding the ball inside,” Fargas said.
LSU: With road games at A&M and No. 13 Mississippi State in LSU’s first five SEC games, the league’s schedule-makers did the Tigers no favors to start the new year. But the Tigers, in another offering of the resiliency they’ve shown all season, bounced back from a disheartening loss.
Texas A&M: The Aggies’ biggest concern moving forward, despite the loss, is Carter’s health. They’re fortunate to have the next week off to see how she’s able to bounce back.
The Aggies, who squeezed into the Top 10 at the beginning of the week at No. 10, are likely to drop right back out of the top 10 following the home loss.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Tigers more than doubled the Aggies in assists (17 to 8).
HE SAID IT
“Both teams played extremely hard – it was a hard game to officiate because of the physicality of both teams.” — Texas A&M coach Gary Blair.
LSU: The Tigers host Mississippi on Sunday.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies play at Kentucky on Thursday.