FREEPORT, Bahamas -- Sydney Carter got Texas A&M (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) off and running with a 17-point first half and then shifted gears in the second half to get her teammates more involved.
The Aggies rolled to victory behind their senior guard, beating Iowa 74-58 Saturday to win the Lucaya Division crown of the Junkanoo Jam.
Carter finished with 21 points, hitting 6 of 16 shots from the field and 9 of 10 from the foul line. Carter added four steals and four assists in earning the MVP honors.
Adaora Elonu added 13 points for Texas A&M (6-0) and Kelsey Bone scored 12 points, 10 in the second half.
The defending national champion Aggies enter a challenging stretch with a game against Purdue (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) on Dec. 4, followed by a visit to No. 2 Connecticut on Dec. 6. Iowa (4-2) hosts Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
Texas A&M forced 25 turnovers, while only turning the ball over 13 times.
"When we play teams who have never played us, or are not in our league, the press seems to bother them more, because not a lot of teams want to be pressed," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "Usually the best way to beat a pressing team is to press us back. Nobody does it. Connecticut will. What a road trip that's going to be."
Carter's 17-point first-half effort enabled Texas A&M to take a 36-27 lead into the break. The 5-foot-6 senior used her quickness to slice through the Hawkeyes' defense, either cashing in on transition drives or picking up points at the stripe, where she was 7 of 8 in the first 20 minutes.
"I was just attacking the basket," Carter said. "I noticed that they were kind of closing out and they were already playing me for the shot. I was just making sure I was doing a good job of attacking the basket. If they took that away, then I was going to dish to my teammates."
Led by Carter, Texas A&M turned up the defensive heat to open the second half and hit the Hawkeyes with a 10-2 run to forge a 48-32 lead with 15:26 left in the game. The Aggies were up 55-34 with 13:30 left in the game after Elonu hit a driving layup as she was fouled and converted the 3-point play.
Up to that point, the Hawkeyes were 3 of 8 with seven turnovers in their first 15 possessions of the second half, getting outscored 19-7 during that stretch.
"That's a part of me maturing and being the veteran that I am," Carter said of taking the focus off of her scoring and setting up her teammates. "It's important to get my teammates involved. Me having a good first half really opened it up for my teammates in the second half. I'm not a selfish player at all. Getting my teammates involved is really what we need. We have a balanced team and everybody can score."
Blair said that Carter's intensity has powered the Aggies.
"I asked my team, what happens when Carter goes?" he said. "Who is ready to take on that burden? She makes the rest of us, because Tyra (White) was really nonexistent in the whole tournament, and she's preseason All-American, Wooden Award nominee. But all of the sudden, it's Carter.
"Carter is not waiting for things to happen, she's making things happen, against the zone or the man, the smallest kid on the court is going to throw her body in there. She also has to guard the other team's best player."
Samantha Logic led Iowa with 16 points and nine rebounds, including five offensive boards, and Jaime Printy added 14 points.
"I thought the first five minutes of the game, we handled their pressure pretty good," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "I think we lost the game in the first four minutes of the second half. You just can't let them get on rolls and get those easy buckets like they did.
"I thought Sam Logic competed out there. She looked like she belonged. She wanted it, and I like that mentality out of a freshman. She just hustles. She never stops. You love a kid who's diving for loose balls and trying to create situations and not backing down as a freshman. She's going against a couple all-Americans, Carter and Bone, and she's in there battling away."