Sali Kourouma has been the hot name for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock women's basketball, and rightly so. Entering the week averaging more than 23 points per game, the junior college transfer has been one of the top scorers in the nation.
In Korouma's return to Texas, it was a different Trojans transfer who stepped into the spotlight.
Raziya Potter, who came to Little Rock after three seasons with San Jose State, scored a career-high 23 points Wednesday, although it was not enough for UALR to pull off an upset of No. 17 Texas A&M. The Trojans trailed by 21 points at the half, but cut the deficit to single digits early in the fourth quarter before falling 65-50 at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.
They were ultimately buried by the Aggies' three-point shooting -- Destiny Pitts made five as the Aggies went 8 of 17 from deep -- but that didn't put a damper on Potter's performance.
"We needed Raz to get that kind of confidence," Foley said. "She's a transfer and I think she sees now what she can do in our offense. ... So that really encouraged me."
Potter helped UALR (4-4) stay in the game, scoring 10 of the Trojans' 19 first-half points. With the visitors shooting 9 of 31 from the field, Texas A&M (8-0) blew the game open, outscoring UALR 21-6 in the second quarter.
To start the second half, Kourouma scored nine of the Trojans' first 11 points -- part of an extended 13-2 run -- that made it 42-32.
Potter scored on the opening possession of the fourth quarter, drawing UALR within 10 again and when Dariel Johnson turned a steal into a and-one layup with 7:59 remaining -- slicing the Aggies' lead to 51-42 -- Texas A&M Coach Gary Blair called timeout.
Blair, who is one of four active Division I women's basketball coaches with more wins than Foley -- he's now got 846 to Foley's 820 -- had plenty of praise for his longtime friend postgame.
"Foley's a Hall of Fame coach," Blair said. "He's never had a long bench at UALR, so he takes what he was, he has to make them better ... and I thought Foley did a great job of getting his kids to play up."
The Aggies pulled away to stay unbeaten despite tired legs. They'd practiced once since returning from a tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sunday.
Eight players saw at least 15 minutes of action for the Aggies as Pitts and Kayla Wells each scored 15.
Korouma, who didn't play in either of the Trojans' two games last weekend in Tulsa after suffering a knee injury, was the only other UALR player in double figures. She scored 15, albeit on 5-of-20 shooting, and the frontcourt tandem of Angelique Francis and Dariel Johnson combined for 16 of the Trojans' 33 rebounds.
"[Texas A&M is a bunch of] veterans," Foley said. "They know how to play. They can hurt you in different spots. ... Coach Blair and I are good friends, so you know I have a lot of respect. I think they're going to be a great ball club, but I think our ball club got better today, too."