OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The Texas A&M Aggies took over the game when they had to.
Kayla Wells had 18 points and eight rebounds, and No. 5 Texas A&M rode a dominant fourth quarter to a 66-55 victory over Mississippi on Sunday.
The Aggies (20-1, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) won their eighth straight game, but the Rebels (9-9, 3-11) kept it competitive into the fourth, trailing just 44-39. Then it was all Texas A&M.
“I just feel like we really know how to finish the game now,” Wells said. “We’ve done it time after time and it’s almost like something that we have to do. It’s almost mandatory.”
Already off to the program’s best start through 20 games, the Aggies secured their 16th consecutive season with at least 20 wins.
Wells only shot 5-of-16 from the floor but made seven of eight free throws. Aaliyah Wilson had a huge all-around game, scoring 10 points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out six assists and recording six steals.
Jordan Nixon scored nine of her 11 points in the fourth quarter when Texas A&M led by as many as 15.
Ciera Johnson only scored five points but the last one gave her 1,000 points for her career.
Shakira Austin got her fifth straight double-double to lead Ole Miss, the first Rebels player to do so in SEC games since Armintie Price in 2007. She had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Taylor Smith had 12 points on 3-of-6 shooting from 3. The rest of the team made one of nine attempts from 3-point range. Madison Scott finished with 10 points.
Zaay Green and Jordan Nixon helped turn it into a comfortable win.
Green hit the Aggies’ first three baskets of the fourth — and her first three in the game.
“She hadn’t forgotten how to play ball,” Blair said. “She just needed more opportunities. But as well as Wilson and (Destiny) Pitts and Wells have been playing, sometimes you’ve got to earn those opportunities or wait for those opportunities. She knew exactly what to do when she came into the ball game.”
Nixon hit three straight layups and a free throw in a quick nine-point Texas A&M flurry, over a span of just 1:49.
Johnson’s putback with 2 seconds left in the third quarter gave Texas A&M a 44-39 lead after the Rebels had erased most of a 10-point deficit.
The momentum carried over into the fourth.
“There was a stretch where A&M showed their maturity in the fourth quarter and just pulled away from us,” Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “And we didn’t answer the call.”
The Aggies had to rebound from a slow start after missing all five 3-point attempts and four of six free throw attempts in the opening quarter. The defense remained strong, helping the Aggies build a 26-23 halftime edge.
It was Texas A&M’s first road game since a visit to Auburn on Jan. 28.
“It definitely felt different,” Wells said. “It’s been a really long time since we’ve been on a plane or been on a bus on the way to some place. “
Texas A&M visits Alabama on Thursday night, before closing the regular season against No. 2 South Carolina.