LAWRENCE, Kan. – Three players scored in double figures as No. 20 Texas A&M held off Kansas to claim its second Big 12 Conference win of the season, 58-51, Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Junior Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) recorded her ninth career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while junior Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) had a team-high 17 points and six rebounds in the winning cause. It was A&M’s first victory in 10 days after falling to No. 18 Oklahoma State and Nebraska in league play.
The Aggies (14-6, 2-4) combated their shooting woes from the floor (32.8 percent) by turning up their defensive pressure in the second half after trailing KU, 30-29, at halftime. Both teams traded leads seven times including three in the final 12 minutes of regulation.
Key baskets by seniors Patrice Reado (Houston, Texas) and Morenike Atunrase (Shreveport, La.) stretched A&M’s lead to four with 10:54 remaining on the clock. Thirty seconds later, a three-pointer by Starks pushed it out to 48-41 and the Aggies never looked back. Atunrase went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe and scored 12 of A&M’s 29 second-half points as the Aggies raised their lead to as many as 11 with 4:57 left to go.
For the game, A&M turned in a season-low nine turnovers which marked the fewest since eight miscues at rival Texas on Feb. 8, 2006. The Aggie defense also forced their first Big 12 opponent to 20-or-more turnovers as Kansas (12-7, 1-5) had 21 errors on the court. The Jayhawks were paced by an 11-point effort from leading scorer Danielle McCray and 10 points each from Sade Morris and LaChelda Jacobs.
A&M returns home to face Missouri (8-11, 1-5) in its 1,000th game in program history on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Reed Arena. Tipoff between the Aggies and Tigers is slated for 7 p.m.
Postgame Notes…For the fifth time this season, A&M used the starting lineup of A’Quonesia Franklin, Takia Starks, Danielle Gant, Patrice Reado and La Toya Micheaux (2-3)…A&M’s foul count in the first half (3) was a team season low for a single half this season…The Aggies’ 15 total fouls at Kansas marked a season-low in Big 12 Conference play after a season-high 30 at Colorado on Jan. 16…Gant recorded her ninth career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds…She also had a career-high tying six steals against the Jayhawks…Atunrase came off the bench and scored 12 of her 15 points in the second half of play to record her third double-figure game of the season since returning the lineup against Auburn on Dec. 15…In her last outing at Allen Fieldhouse, Atunrase notched a career-high 29 points on Jan. 15, 2006…Starks registered her 25th consecutive double-digit contest with a team-high 17 points…A&M committed a season-low nine turnovers and forced 21…It was the fewest turnovers since eight miscues at rival Texas on Feb. 8, 2006…KU became the 12th opponent and first in the Big 12 to turn over the ball 20-or-more times against A&M…The Aggies converted 23 of their 58 total points off KU miscues…For the second consecutive game, A&M outrebounded the opposition, 37-35…They had 21 offensive rebounds including nine by Gant, four by Micheaux and three by Reado…With the victory, A&M has now won five-straight in the all-time series against Kansas…The Aggies also picked up only their fourth all-time win at historic Allen Fieldhouse since 1987.
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
On the game and the history of Kansas Basketball and Allen Fieldhouse …
“I’ve watched Kansas basketball for five years. They are so close to turning the corner. Obviously, you can see we aren’t playing near as well as we played last year. Why aren’t we? The league is better and teams are defending us better. We felt pretty good in the first half knowing we got totally outplayed in the first half and we were only down by one. We just had to get in there and come from behind on the road. This team has a lot of pride. We didn’t get these (Big 12 Championship) rings by luck. We earned our rings. KU’s wings were shooting 15-foot jumpers on us. The difference in the ballgame was when we went to small ball and then our press kicked in. I thought we played a solid defensive game in the second half. We hit enough shots and we are just trying to find our way. Anytime you can win on the road in a great atmosphere like this is good. I’m so excited about basketball in the Big 12. When you start traveling to places like Stillwater (Oklahoma) and Lawrence (Kansas) you have the opportunity to learn the history of the game.”
On offensive rebounds and getting second-chance points …
“That’s what we normally do. When you are shooting 33 percent, you know there is going to be a few bricks to go get. We were doing a good job. We were playing for our life. Now, we just need to find a way to get a third win. We have to get better, because this league is so good. We were going to loose balls and getting them to turn the ball over. Morenike (Atunrase) played very well tonight. Two years ago, she had 29 points in this arena. Hopefully, this game is going to pull her out and get her going. She likes this arena (Allen Fieldhouse).”