COLLEGE STATION -- A red-hot Takia Starks poured in a season-high 23 points to lead the 13th-ranked Texas A&M women’s basketball team to a 69-41 victory over Michigan Thursday night at Reed Arena.
Starks went 9-of-15 from the floor draining three of the team’s six three-pointers of the game. In the first half of play, A&M (5-1) jolted out to a 20-6 run with 22 of the team’s first-half points coming off 18 U-M turnovers. The Wolverines later cut the lead down to seven with 2:33 remaining, but it wasn’t enough as the Aggies built up a 35-22 halftime advantage.
The A&M defense held the entire Michigan (4-2) lineup to under double-figure scoring as the Wolverines managed just nine points each from Janelle Cooper and Ta’Shia Walker. Overall, U-M turned over the ball 33 times in the contest.
Junior Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and senior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) also reached double figures with 12 and 11 points respectively against the Wolverines. A&M shot a season-high 47.5 percent (29-of-61) from the floor and outrebounded Michigan, 33-31.
A much-anticipated rematch is up next for A&M as they travel to TCU (3-3) on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. in Fort Worth, Texas. Both the Aggies and Horned Frogs last met in NCAA first-round action in 2006.
Postgame Notes…Texas A&M used the starting lineup of A’Quonesia Franklin, Takia Starks, Danielle Gant, Ashlaa Horton and Damitria Buchanan…Horton made her fifth career start and Buchanan her third…A&M held Michigan to its second-fewest first-half points of the season next to 20 first-half points versus fellow Big 12 Conference member Iowa State on Nov. 23…The Wolverines trailed at the half for the second time this season next to the Iowa State game…Starks scored a season-high 23 points which marked her 10th 20-point game of her career…She extended her double-digit scoring streak to 12 consecutive games…U-M became the third opponent this season to turnover the ball more than 30 times (33)…A&M scored 38 of their total points off of Michigan turnovers…The Aggies shot a season-best 47.5 percent from the floor against the Wolverines…A&M drained a season-high tying six three-pointers courtesy of three each by Franklin (3-of-7) and Starks (3-of-6) who were hot all night from downtown…A season-best crowd of 3,423 fans were in attendance at Reed Arena…The Aggies take a 1-0 lead in the all-time series versus Michigan…With the victory, A&M extended its home court win streak to 20-straight games…The Aggie defense held U-M to a season low 41 total points…Iowa State previously held the Wolverines to 43.
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
On the game and the team’s defense against Michigan …
“We are a work in progress with our offense right now. The disappointing thing tonight was the turnovers we made. We just can’t turnover the ball at the point guard position like that. Offensively, Takia Starks was on fire and LaToya Gulley came in and did a fine job. She is really going to be that spark plug off the bench for us and that’s what we need. We worked hard. I thought we ran our offense well at times. We just couldn’t score against that big 6-foot-6 kid (Michigan’s Krista Phillips). She gave us a lot of problems. I was pleased with Danielle Gant and how she was taking it to the rim like she did last year. That’s the best she’s looked all year. I think the press wore them down and they probably had only 10-or-15 wide open looks. A lot of times that defensive pressure wears your legs. Our defense needs to be rewarded for how hard we play. Michigan will be in the top four in their league next year, because that man (Michigan head coach Kevin Borseth) can coach. I dread going up to Michigan next year and I hope it’s in August.”
On rebounding back from the Wake Forest loss last week at the Paradise Jam …
“It’s all about preparation. Michigan was every bit as good as Wake Forest. We weren’t going to let that happen again. We made a pretty good team look bad, because of our pressure. Your press wears them down. That’s what a press will do to you. We have a tough December ahead of us. Looking at the Big 12 schedule, by far, we have the hardest schedule of the teams left in non-conference play. We have five games that we knew were winnable or losable. We want to stand up (against these top 25 teams) and represent the Big 12. If the Big 12 South takes care of business in the non-conference, you could possibly have five or six teams in the top 25. The Big 12 is ready to rock and roll, because our league is very good.”
JUNIOR GUARD TAKIA STARKS
On returning home and making adjustments prior to playing Michigan …
“We just came out and wanted to execute our plays. We practiced some new plays this week and tried them out tonight and it was successful. We love the atmosphere here (at Reed Arena) and we enjoyed our time in the Virgin Islands. We love playing at home and giving the home crowd a good show and we did that tonight.”
On the team’s mindset with tough schedule ahead …
“We have a lot of good teams coming up and it will prepare us for conference play. We’ve never had a schedule this tough coming in before conference, so we are taking it as a challenge and as a chance to get better.”
On the Wake Forest loss …
“That loss was basically a big wakeup call for us. We are a top team now. Anytime you are in the top 10 and top 25 you are going to have a bull’s eye on your back. We have to come out and be ready to play every game. It’s a wake up call, we took it and we are riding with it and here we are tonight (with a win over Michigan).”
JUNIOR GUARD/FORWARD DANIELLE GANT
On the team’s game plan coming into the Michigan game …
“Defense is the main thing that we focus on everyday in practice and that’s what we wanted to do, come out and play good defense. We were in the mindset of, ‘Let’s come home and defend our home court and that’s what we tried to do.’ We are going to play our hardest every game, especially at home. Everyone is coming after us right now, because we are one of the best in the Big 12 Conference and in the country.”
MICHIGAN HEAD COACH KEVIN BORSETH
On Texas A&M and their defense …
“They are a good team. They were good on defense and we weren’t on offense. When you put the two together, you get turnovers. We play teams like Texas A&M because they help prepare us. It’s better for us to play good teams like the Notre Dame’s and Kentucky’s of the world. We play a schedule that will put the program where it belongs. You have to beat good teams down the road, so why not start now? It’s frustrating to play good teams and lose. You learn a lot. It’s not fun, but you learn a lot in hopes that at the end of the year, we have figured things out so that we can win games like these.”