Aggies beat Oklahoma for Big 12 Title
By JOHN MARSHALL
AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Midway through the season, Texas A&M went into a funk, a string of four losses in five games sending the Aggies spiraling down the standings.
Look at them now.
Finishing off a run of three hard-fought wins against Top 20 opponents, the Aggies are Big 12 tournament champions again, headed toward a likely No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Tyra White carried Texas A&M in the first half and Danielle Adams scored 17 of her 19 points in the second, helping the 11th-ranked Aggies hold off No. 12 Oklahoma 74-67 on Sunday for their second Big 12 tournament title in three years.
“We had a lot of tests during that point in the season and I think it prepared us for this,” said Texas A&M guard Sydney Colson, who had seven assists and five turnovers.
After losing to Baylor in last year’s title game, the Aggies were ready.
Texas A&M knocked off No. 20 Texas in the quarterfinals, gave No. 3 Nebraska its first loss of the season in the semis and closed out the grueling three-day stretch with a second win over Oklahoma in three tries this season.
White had all of her 16 points in the first half and Texas A&M (25-7) relied on Adams in the second to answer every Oklahoma charge. Adaora Elonu added 10 points and Tanisha Smith had two key rebounds and hit three free throws in the final 24 seconds for Texas A&M in its third straight conference title game.
“We saw a great basketball game by two very, very good teams,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said.
Amanda Thompson had a huge game for the Sooners, finishing with 20 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocked shots. Danielle Robinson was her usual disruptive self, slashing into the lane for 18 points, five assists and three steals.
Oklahoma (23-10) just missed too many shots at the rim in the second half after shooting well in the first and had trouble keeping up with Texas A&M’s multitude of scoring options.
But don’t feel too bad for the Sooners. They had the toughest schedule in the nation, a gauntlet that included top-ranked Connecticut, Tennessee, Notre Dame and a Big 12 filled with ranked teams.
Second or third seed, Oklahoma will be just fine
“We feel great going into the tournament,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. “Our pre-conference schedule and what we’ve had to fight through in the Big 12 … there’s no better preparation.”
Oklahoma had its chances late.
The Sooners cut the lead to 67-65 when Thompson ripped the ball from Colson and hit a jumper with 1:11 left. Colson answered right back with a runner and Texas A&M hit 5 of 6 free throws to keep Oklahoma from getting any closer.
Adams had the Aggies in position.
The junior transfer from Kansas City has put in extra time during the season to get in better shape – 35 pounds lost since October – and has been a huge boost for the Aggies coming off the bench.
Adams had just two points in the first half, deferring to White, then took over when the game got tight.
She hurt the Sooners inside and out, hitting a 3-pointer and powering inside for putbacks and short jumpers. Adams scored eight straight points for Texas A&M midway through the half to quash a short Oklahoma run and had a three-point play after another Sooners spurt to put the Aggies up 63-59 with 4 1/2 minutes left on her way to being named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“She has been everything we asked for,” Blair said.
Oklahoma and Texas A&M didn’t go into the tournament as favorites – seeded third and fourth, respectively – but it’s no surprise they ended up in the title game. These two teams have more victories than any other in the Big 12 the past four years and had won three of the previous four conference tournament titles.
They split the two regular-season games, each winning decisively at home.
Round 3 was a shootout early, a defensive battle later.
All the way through it was intense, two top-15 teams diving for loose balls, limping off and returning later, never backing down for an instant.
“We fought today,” Thompson said, choking back tears. “I feel like we can go as far as we want to the tournament.”
Updated March 14, 2010