Blair wins 700th game as No. 10 Texas A&M women beat Cal
LAS VEGAS (AP) Gary Blair earned his 700th career win with a lot of help from his two Courtneys.
Texas A&M's coach reached the milestone win behind Courtney Williams' 32 points and Courtney Walker's 18 as the No. 10 Aggies posted a 75-58 victory over No. 16 California in the opening game of the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout on Friday.
''Williams, Walker . whenever they graduate I feel like following out the door with them because they've been special,'' Blair said. ''They put up a lot of those 700 wins with me, and I (also) think I've got the best point guards (Jordan Jones and Chelsea Jennings) in the country.''
He became the 16th coach in Division I history to reach that milestone in his 31st season. Only six coaches have done it in fewer seasons. He won 210 games at Stephen F. Austin, 198 at Arkansas and now has 292 at Texas A&M.
Blair also appreciated his opponent, the previously unbeaten Golden Bears, who put up a tough first-quarter effort.
''I'm a history buff of the game, and I learned by playing great coaches. If I got to 700 I wanted it to be against a quality opponent like California. (Coach) Lindsay (Gottlieb) is one of the rising stars of this game. She only has nine kids and plays six or seven at the most, and we were able to wear them out a little.''
Williams, who shot 59 percent (14 for 24) from the field, started a 33-9 run for
Texas A&M (5-0) with a basket that gave the Aggies an 18-17 lead at the end of the first quarter against California (4-1).
After taking over the lead for good, Williams scored 10 of the Aggies' next 18 points in the second quarter, as they owned a 38-24 halftime lead due to a 20-7 advantage for the Aggies in the second quarter.
''They ran their offense very well in the first quarter,'' Blair said. ''It was a one-possession game in the first quarter and in the second quarter Walker got in foul trouble and Williams took over. That's what great players are supposed to do. We were able to rest Walker by halftime.''
Williams also scored the first seven points of the game and had 12 points during the first quarter.
California (4-1) was led by Kristine Anigwe with 23 points and 12 rebounds. She scored the Golden Bears' first five points of the game and had 10 in the first quarter, when the lead changed seven times and the score was tied four times.
''Our kids played well,'' Blair said. ''We made shots, we had more steals and we had more transition opportunities. We got killed on the boards (36-27), but that's not going to be the last time that happens. They (the Golden Bears) were just content to throwing it inside, and they were scoring.''
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''I think it was our help defense and the post (defense that were the keys to the game),'' Williams said. ''We didn't let them get their threes off because they take 25 per game''
Texas A&M: Blair is ninth among active coaches with his 700 wins. ... This is the first week that the Aggies have been ranked in the top 10 this season, but they have made the list 67 times. They also have been in the poll for 32 straight weeks.
California: The Golden Bears outrebounded Texas A&M 36-27, but were held to 42 percent shooting from the field, compared to 51 percent shooting by the Aggies.
Texas A&M will face Ohio State on Saturday.
California will play Liberty on Saturday.