ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands – Takia Starks scored 17 points to lead No. 11 Texas A&M to a 60-48 victory over Indiana on Saturday in the Paradise Jam.
Starks went 3-for-9 from three-point range and scored 12 of her points in the second half when the Aggies pulled away by shooting 48 percent (11-of-23) from the floor and outrebounding the Hoosiers, 25-16. Danielle Gant added 12 points and six rebounds for Texas A&M (4-1). Both were named to the Paradise Jam St. John Division All-Tournament Team.
The Aggies, who lost 53-46 to Wake Forest on Friday, rallied after giving up a big early lead to an unranked opponent for the second time in a row. Texas A&M went up 17-10 on a shot by A’Quonesia Franklin, but the Hoosiers took a 22-21 lead on Amber Jackson’s layup with 1:35 to play in the first half. The lead changed seven times in the period.
A&M, who led 25-22 at halftime, took control on an 8-0 run capped by Franklin’s layup that gave the Aggies a 42-32 lead with 10:40 remaining. The Hoosiers did not get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Jamie Braun led Indiana (4-2) with 14 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Whitney Thomas added 12 points and five rebounds. The Hoosiers shot 47 percent (8-of-17) in the first half, but hit only 28 percent (9-of-32) in the second, finishing 1-for-9 from behind the arc. The Aggies shot 39 percent (22-of-56) for the game.
IU is the first of back-to-back matchups against a Big Ten Conference opponent for the Aggies as they play host to Michigan (3-1) on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at Reed Arena.
Postgame Notes…For the first time this season, A&M used the starting lineup of A’Quonesia Franklin, Sydney Colson, Takia Starks, Danielle Gant and Damitria Buchanan…Colson made her first career start against Indiana…She saw 14 minutes of action with two points, one steal and one rebound…La Toya Micheaux did not suit up for the game due to migraine headaches that kept her back at the hotel…Once again, the A&M defense forced its fifth consecutive opponent to commit 20-or-more turnovers in a contest as IU turned over the ball 21 times…The Aggies scored 27 points off those turnovers…Patrice Reado fouled out of the ballgame with 2:01 remaining in regulation and contributed nine points and six rebounds in the winning cause…She was A&M’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder at the three-game tournament averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game…Starks registered a game-high 17 points which extended her double-digit scoring streak to 11 consecutive games…Katrina Limbaha tallied a season-high seven points, three rebounds and a career-high tying two steals in just 12 minutes of play against IU…A&M takes a 1-0 lead in the all-time series versus Indiana after meeting the Hoosiers for the first time in school history…The Aggies went 2-1 in tournament play with wins over Wichita State and IU to finished second behind St. John Division champion Wake Forest who posted a 3-0 record…Starks and Gant were named to the all-tournament team.
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
On the tournament …
“Basically, you have to take the tournament for what it is. You have 10 good teams here. We were in a four-team bracket with Wake Forest, Indiana and Wichita State. We played well at times, but we didn’t play well in the middle game of it against Wake Forest. Yes, it probably should have been a game we should have won, but it was also one of the best games of the tournament. We did some things very well in there and Wake Forest did, too. Both of us had each other scouted well. They won at the end. They made the free throws and they made the plays and we will learn from that.”
On the team’s play against Indiana …
“Today we went out there with no legs against Indiana. We decided not to press and play half-court defense. We were still doing a good job of taking charges, contesting shots and holding them to 34 percent. We just kept rotating post players in there. Our bench came in and played better than the starters. (Patrice) Reado and (Katrina) Limbaha both came off the bench. They gave us seven or eight points apiece. They did the little things against the zone. I’m so happy for Katrina, because this is probably her first big time game that she has produced down the stretch and did everything well. We wore down their guards. We did the little things well and I know Aqua (Franklin) really wanted the ball at the end of the game. She got out there and started looking like the All-Big 12 guard she was last year.”
On second-half changes against Indiana …
“We changed a couple of sets against their zone. We went to a triple post so we could get some offensive boards there. The biggest difference was that we got out in transition after we made a miss and got some easy baskets the other way. We work so hard on the defensive end. We need to reward ourselves with some transition baskets. Aqua found people in the pass and found Starks for a couple of threes. We are dead tired, but we are coming home and hopefully, we are going to be ready for Michigan on Thursday night.”