By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- With so many injuries early this season, Vanderbilt wasn't quite where it wanted to be as Southeastern Conference play began on Friday night.
But the Commodores provided plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the days ahead.
Facing No. 5-ranked Texas A&M, the Commodores were within striking distance of pulling off the potential upset late in the second half before the Aggies pulled away in the final minutes and downed Vanderbilt, 75-61.
Courtney Williams had 22 points and Courtney Walker added 17 for No. 5 Texas A&M (13-2) in the SEC opener for both teams.
Heather Bowe's 16 points led Vanderbilt. She made her first seven shots of the game and finished 8-of-9 for the Commodores (8-5, 0-1), who are finally getting close to full strength after dealing with a variety of injuries in December.
"I think it's just going to take time for us to mesh," said Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb. "It's been a continual transition with such a young team. We don't have the cohesion and knowing each other's strengths."
A 3-pointer by Rebekah Dahlman got the Commodores within five with about 8 minutes left before the Aggies used a 10-2 run to push the lead to 68-55. Vanderbilt didn't threaten again. "As the season goes on I believe we'll get better and better and know each other better," Balcomb said. "But we can't give up so many points."
Vanderbilt freshman Khaleann Caron-Goudreau, who is the twin sister of Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, made her season debut after sitting out the first 12 games with an ankle injury. She had 11 points, three assists and three rebounds in 22 minutes.
“I thought it was awesome,” Balcomb said of her play. “She was ready to go; played smart and was aggressive and confident.”
The Aggies have won two in a row after dropping two straight following an 11-0 start.
The game was tied early in the second half when the Aggies went on a 11-2 run, which included two three-point plays and a 3-pointer by Williams, to take a 49-40 lead.
Balcomb raved about the work of A&M's Jordan Jones.
"She changed the game with her defense and then she turns around and has 15 assists," Balcomb said. "She controlled the game on both ends of the court. I think that's good to see. We need to see more players like her in the SEC."
The 15 assists were the fifth-most in A&M history and a season-high for Jones, who leads the SEC in that category, and she scored nine points.
The victory is A&M's 21st straight win at home over an unranked team and extends its home winning streak against all opponents to 11 games.
The Aggies scored 20 points off 21 turnovers by Vanderbilt and outscored the Commodores 32-20 in the paint. "I just think we had a lot of mental lapses tonight," Bowe said. "We had a lot of unforced turnovers that second half and that definitely added to extra points."
Texas A&M jumped out to a 10-2 lead and was up by seven after five quick points from Williams with about 13 minutes left in the first half. Vanderbilt then used a 9-0 run, powered by four points by Khaleann Caron-Goudreau, to take a 21-19 lead with less than 9 minutes left in the half.
The Aggies were up by a basket soon after that when another 9-0 run by the Commodores, with the first four points from Bowe, put them back on top 30-23.
A&M outscored Vanderbilt 8-2 over the rest of the half to cut the lead to 32-31 at halftime.
Marqu'es Webb played in her second game after missing almost a month with a knee injury. She was shaken up when she fell to the ground hard while fighting for a rebound late in the first half and went to the locker room. But she returned in the second half.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores dropped to 8-5 in SEC openers under Balcomb. ... Vanderbilt was without Rachel Bell, who didn’t make the trip because she has the flu. ... Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau fouled out with about five minutes left. She had three points and three rebounds.
Texas A&M: The Aggies play two straight games on the road this week before returning home to host LSU on Sunday. ... A&M's 11-0 start was its best since going 12-0 to start the 2008-09 season. ... The Aggies are 3-0 in SEC openers.
UP NEXT: Vanderbilt: Hosts Tennessee on Monday. Texas A&M: At Arkansas on Sunday.