AUSTIN, Texas – Four players scored in double figures to lead No. 19 Texas A&M to a 15-point rout of rival Texas, 65-50, Sunday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center.
Junior Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) scored 12 of her game-high 22 points in the first half shooting 8-of-14 from the floor and 3-of-6 from three-point range to give the Aggies’ their fourth-ever win in Austin and third-ever series sweep over the Longhorns. A&M has now won seven of their last eight in Big 12 Conference play for fifth-place in the standings.
A&M sprinted out to an 18-4 run in the opening minutes of the contest behind long-range threes from Starks and senior Morenike Atunrase (Shreveport, La.). The Aggies also turned up their signature defense forcing Texas to turn the ball over four times before the first timeout. Brittainey Raven ended UT’s scoring drought with a layup with 15:56 left on the clock.
The Aggies continued to build on their lead, but Texas found a way to get back into the ballgame as reserve Crystal Boyd cut it to three with 50 seconds remaining in the half. A&M went into the lockerroom with a 29-24 lead at halftime.
The second half started off much the same as the first. A&M kept on finding its scorers as its defensive pressure continued to wear on the Longhorns. Atunrase ended the night with 10 points, while senior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) and junior Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) each had 12.
For the game, A&M shot 48.0 percent (24-of-50) from the field which was its second-highest percentage in a single game this season next to 49.0 percent at Baylor on Jan. 12. The Aggies led by as many as 19 points with 10:37 remaining in regulation. Raven led all UT scorers with 13.
The Aggies continue on a two-game road swing and travel to No. 16 Oklahoma State (21-5, 9-4) for a midweek matchup on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in Stillwater, Okla.
Postgame Notes…For the third time this season, Texas A&M used the starting lineup of A’Quonesia Franklin, Takia Starks, Morenike Atunrase, Danielle Gant and La Toya Micheaux (2-1)…The Aggies drained six three-pointers against the Longhorns including five in the first half alone…Gant dished out a career-and season-high seven assists…She scored 12 points to become the 21st player in school history to record 1,000 career points…Gant joined teammates Starks, Atunrase and Franklin in the elite group…She now has 1,004 career points to date and has reached double figures in 11 consecutive games…Texas A&M is now one of 14 known teams in NCAA women’s basketball history to have four 1,000 point scorers on its roster during the same season…Starks turned in her 17th overall 20-point game of her career and seventh this season with her game-high 22 points…With the victory, A&M registered its third consecutive 20-win season and eighth overall in 34 seasons of Aggie Basketball…The Aggies, who ranked 22nd nationally in scoring defense, held the Longhorns to their second-fewest points this season (50)…A&M also shot 48.0 percent from the floor which was its second best shooting percentage of the season next to 49.0 percent at Baylor on Jan. 12…Texas became the 18th A&M opponent this year to turn over the ball more than 20 times in a ballgame with 24…The Aggies picked up only their fourth all-time win in Austin next to 1992, 1995 and 2006…It was also their third-ever series sweep of Texas in 73 all-time meetings between the two storied rivals...A&M’s 15-point margin of victory was its second largest in four road wins in the state capital next to a 20-point win (73-53) on Feb. 8, 2006.
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
On the game …
“We got off to a tremendous start. Aqua (Franklin) started finding the open person and (Takia) Starks was red-hot hitting three or four threes to start the game. We had our hat handed to us early by losing four out of our first five. We went off the radar screen and went under it. All of sudden, we started finding the answer was in ourselves. We just had to get better, share the basketball and play the defense we were capable of. Right now, the difference in this team is our defensive intensity and not making that many mistakes we were making earlier in the year. Tonight, it was Starks’ time. The last game it was (Danielle) Gant’s time. There’s somebody different to step-up in every game. We handled Texas’ pressure as well as we could. That’s why we didn’t press ourselves. We knew we were going to need every bit of energy on the offensive side to keep out of theirs. When we did break the press, we were shooting layups and open threes and our kids can do that.”
On the team’s defense and causing 24 Texas turnovers …
“We have a very good defense and that’s all part of it right there. Coach (Vic) Schaefer does a tremendous job instilling passion for defense. A lot of kids start the ballgame thinking about how many points they are going to get. Our kids think about how many points they can stop the other team from having. When you start having passion on the defensive end, it carries over on offense.”
On the second half of play …
“I like how we started the second half and I think that was the difference in the ballgame. We knew Texas was going to make their run. We are very identical in personnel. We just played a little different on the defensive end. We were playing with confidence and we were running our stuff.”
SENIOR POINT GUARD A’QUONESIA FRANKLIN
On the team’s defensive performance against Texas …
“We just talked about getting back to what we did last year and what created points for us. That was our defense. Last year, all of our points mostly came off of our defense. That’s what we have been focusing on the last few games. Stepping up our defensive intensity and pressuring the ball.”
JUNIOR GUARD TAKIA STARKS
On her shot selection and getting open looks …
“Texas played me different than Iowa State did. When I was open and had a crease, I had to take what I had to take. I credit my teammates for screening today.”