Late Three Pushes Cowgirls Past Aggies

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A gutsy three-pointer by Andrea Riley with 6.6 seconds remaining in regulation kept No. 16 Texas A&M from its second Big 12 Conference win as No. 18 Oklahoma State converted its final 12 points to get past the Aggies, 61-58, Saturday afternoon before a season-high crowd of 4,265 at Reed Arena.

OSU (16-1, 4-0) remained undefeated in league play behind its star point guard’s 29-point outburst on 5-of-12 shooting from long range including the game-winning shot. It continued a pattern of last-second heroics in the OSU versus A&M series. The Cowgirls avenged two losses that were decided by two points or less and not in their favor a year ago.

After dropping their first two Big 12 outings, the Aggies (13-5, 1-3) seemed revitalized after picking up a 72-68 victory at No. 25 Colorado on Jan. 16. They looked recharged and there were signs of the defending Big 12 Champs of old against OSU.

Four players scored in double figures including a team-high 16 points from junior Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) who played limited minutes in the first half after being called for two quick fouls with under 15 minutes to go. She scored only six of her total points before the break and later shot the lights out going 4-of-6 in the opening minutes of the second half of play.

Senior Patrice Reado (Houston, Texas) got the A&M offense rolling in the opening minutes of the game and finished with 13 points and two steals. Senior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) recorded her fourth career double-double with a career-high 11 assists and 14 points. Her three-point attempt at the buzzer fell short of sending the game into overtime. Meanwhile, junior Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) had a productive game across the board with 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.

Oklahoma State cut A&M’s nine-point lead, its largest of the game, in the last six minutes of play with a three-pointer by Danielle Green, jumper by Riley and four makes from the charity stripe. Green was the only other Cowgirl player to reach double figures with 14. She had eight of the team’s 48 rebounds which marked an opponent season-high.

A&M will prepare for a tough two-game road swing ahead with a date with Big 12 North rival Nebraska (13-4, 2-1) on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. The game will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Midwest.

Postgame Notes…For the fourth-straight contest, A&M used the starting lineup of A’Quonesia Franklin, Takia Starks, Danielle Gant, Patrice Reado and La Toya Micheaux (1-3)…Franklin turned in her fourth career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 11 assists…She went 3-of-4 from the free throw line and has now made her last 19-of-20 charity attempts…A&M drained a season-high tying six three-pointers in the game behind a 3-of-7 performance by Franklin…She currently ranks third all-time with 135 career three-pointers to date in the A&M record books…Starks scored 16 points to extend her double-digit scoring streak to 23 consecutive games…It was the first loss in the all-time series for A&M since 2004…The Aggies previously won the last seven against Oklahoma State…It was their longest win streak against a Big 12 opponent…The last three meetings between the two schools have now been decided by three-points or less including a 62-60 win (+2) at OSU and 64-63 (+1) in College Station…A&M shot 41.1 percent for the game which marked its second-best percentage in a conference loss this season next to shooting a season-best 49.0 percent in a 59-56 loss at No. 8 Baylor on Jan. 12…OSU was A&M’s fifth top 25 opponent (2-3)…For the third-straight contest, A&M was outrebounded by the opposition…OSU won the battle of the boards by a margin of 48-27…A&M tied a season-low with just 11 turnovers in the contest.

POSTGAME QUOTES

TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR

On the game …

“The early fouls on us in the last three games have really hurt our aggressiveness and how we want to play defense. We have to be smarter, if we want to continue to play good aggressive defense and not make the technique fouls that’s going on early in the game. It’s limiting everything we can do offensively, because of the packages that we have in there at the time. It was a game of streaks and a game of runs by both teams. I thought we had the game in hand. Perhaps, I should have just kept riding the horse that brought me. I made a couple of late subs in the game and I thought I would need to rest a couple of kids for the end like we did at Colorado and I thought that was smart move. We didn’t execute on the offensive end when we had those other kids in. We just didn’t score the last six minutes of the game. I thought early on for Oklahoma State, they were getting all of the garbage plays. (Megan) Byford and (Shyvon) Spears were doing a good job of coming off the bench and getting some garbage baskets. We have been killed on the boards throughout conference play. Rebounding is an attitude and is a positioning battle. It hurt at halftime that we had one rebound between my two five players and they are good rebounders. (Maria) Cordero and (Danielle) Green were doing a good job in there. OSU also did a good job of limiting Danielle Gant’s touches. We needed her to get more shot attempts up and it didn’t happen.”

On Andrea Riley’s last-second shot …

“We are hurting right now. That’s the third game a three-pointer has beaten us. But, it was our inability to score, not the three-pointer. Sometimes you have to play the shot or the percentage. She (Riley) hit the shot by what we were giving her on the defensive end. I’ll take full blame for the shot that she made. I’m in charge of my team down the stretch and we didn’t make the play. She was shooting that deep in the Oklahoma game. Obviously, there isn’t a guard in the country playing better than her.”

SENIOR GUARD A’QUONESIA FRANKLIN

On guarding Andrea Riley and her last-second three-point shot ..

“One thing we wanted to take away from her was her three-point shot. We were planning for the drive (in that last-second shot) and thought she was going to drive. It’s all about players stepping up. We got beat three times now on last-second shots. As far as this game, (Andrea) Riley is a tremendous point guard. She just stepped up and made a big shot.”

SENIOR FORWARD PATRICE READO

On OSU cutting A&M’s lead at the end and outlook for the rest of the Big 12 season ..

“I don’t think they did anything different. I just think we didn’t get the shots that we needed to have in the end. Even though we are 1-3 in the conference right now, we just have to take each game one day at a time. It is a little frustrating when you are 1-3 and defending Big 12 Champs. We just have to face that and get stronger on the basketball court.”

OKLAHOMA STATE HEAD COACH KURT BUDKE

On the game ..

“Obviously, we are excited about today’s result. We have been playing good basketball. We thought whoever won the rebounding battle would win this game today. We won the rebounding battle and I thought that was probably the difference in the game. I was very proud of my team. That’s the difference between last year’s team to this year’s team. We have more maturity and no longer have a freshman point guard and the rest of the team is a little more mature and tougher and we were able to finish today.”

On Andrea Riley’s last-second shot and being undefeated in the Big 12 …

“We didn’t want to give them much time in the end. We had no problem going into overtime. Andrea has been making those kinds of shots all season long. She’s a tremendous three-point shooter this year. It has to do with her own confidence and her confidence in her teammates. Give A&M credit. They have everyone back from last year and play a lot of pressure. They do things to you that other teams in the conference can’t do. We are a lot better than we were last year. We just have to keep our head level. We pulled out wins against two teams that won the Big 12 last year, but we know there is a long way to go.”

SOPHOMORE GUARD ANDREA RILEY

On finally getting a win after close losses to A&M last year and the contrast between the two ...

“Last year, our team was good, but we couldn’t finish games. We would fade at the end, even if we had a big lead. We would get comfortable with the lead and not execute our offense or try to do everything by ourselves. We don’t have selfish players. We have the maturity this year to say, ‘we are going to finish the game, because we have to.’ and even if we are down in the last minute, we still have enough heart to say, ‘O.K. we are down, but as long as we fight we will come out on top.’”

SENIOR GUARD DANIELLE GREEN

On the emotions of the win …

“It was a huge win. What made the biggest difference was our offensive rebounds at the end of the game when we missed our shots. That was a key to the game and (Riley’s) shot of course. Our posts stepped up big time and I am so proud of my team.”