No. 9 Texas A&M 71, Wichita St. 45
Wichita State’s plan was to limit Texas A&M star Kelsey
The plan was executed well. Unfortunately for the Shockers, the
rest of the Aggies picked up the slack.
Kristi Bellock tied a career high with 18 points and No. 3 Texas
A&M beat 14th-seeded Wichita State 71-45 in the first round of
the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
”This program has been built on competing and out-working,”
Wichita State coach Jody Adams said. ”We just ran into a very good
team and an unbelievable center in Bone with a great supporting
cast, which her supporting cast showed up big-time tonight.”
Playing in front of a hometown crowd, the Aggies used a big run
at the end of the first half to erase a one-point deficit and take
a 13-point lead into halftime. A 12-2 spurt early in the second
half extended the lead to 52-29, and Texas A&M cruised from
Texas A&M (25-9), which won the national championship in
2011, is in the tournament for the eighth consecutive season. It
was the first trip for Wichita State (24-10), which got 12 points
from Michelle Price.
Bellock also had six rebounds, two assists and two blocks, and
freshman teammate Courtney Williams added 11 points, six rebounds
and four assists. Adrienne Pratcher helped with seven assists,
seven rebounds and six points.
Bone scored all 10 of her points in the second half after
getting into foul trouble before the break. She came in averaging
16.9 points a game.
The Aggies helped themselves by making their first 15 attempts
from the line. Pratcher had the first miss with about 3 1/2
remaining, so they had to settle for making 16 of 18 foul shots for
Texas A&M, which has three players 6-foot-4 or taller, also
outrebounded Wichita State 41-25.
A&M led by 13 with about 17 minutes remaining before Bone
scored six points in the 12-2 run that put the game out of reach.
The Shockers’ offense went cold in that decisive stretch and they
couldn’t hit much of anything, including missing two layups.
Wichita State looked right at home early on, taking a 20-19 lead
on Chynna Turner’s layup with 7:45 left in the first half. Williams
kept the Aggies afloat with nine of their first 19 points.
”The first eight minutes, it was great to see us execute what
we wanted to do on both sides of the ball,” Adams said. ”When you
hold a great player like Kelsey Bone to zero points in the first
half, you’re doing your job defensively.”
Texas A&M eventually got going, with Bellock scoring six
points in a 16-2 run that made it 35-22 at halftime.
The Shockers missed 10 shots and had three turnovers in that
span, and didn’t score for the last 4 1/2 minutes of the half.
”Us not scoring really affected us defensively,” Adams said.
”They made it tough from there on.”
Foul trouble hampered the Aggies for much of the opening 20
minutes. Bone was whistled for her second midway through the half
and stayed on the bench until halftime. Karla Gilbert replaced her,
but was soon sitting next to Bone on the sideline when she got her
second foul with 4:22 left.
The loss ends the most successful season in school history for
the Shockers, who set records for wins (24) and Missouri Valley
Conference wins (15). Before Creighton upset Syracuse on Saturday,
the Missouri Valley Conference hadn’t won a game in the women’s
tournament since 2002.
Making the tournament was a major step for Wichita State, which
was one of the worst teams in the Missouri Valley Conference when
Adams, who is now in her fifth season, took over.
”The tone has been set, the bar has been raised, the
expectations are to win championships now,” she said.
Turner, a senior, reflected on the progress the program has made
in the last few years.
”We have won the regular season and gotten to the NCAAs for the
first time,” she said. ”We are very proud of where we’ve come. We
have done something great, and we are going to walk out of here
with our heads held high because this game doesn’t define us. We
will come back harder next year with the new team and keep working
to build this program.”
It was a tough day for Wichita State’s Jessica Diamond, who was
held scoreless after entering the game leading the team by
averaging 12 points a game.
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair removed his starters with about 2
1/2 minutes remaining and the Aggies up 65-40.