COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M women’s basketball team was honored for its record-setting season including its first-ever NCAA Elite Eight appearance and postseason Big 12 Conference Championship during the team’s annual celebration banquet held Thursday night at The Zone Club at Kyle Field.
The Aggies closed out a memorable 2007-08 season by compiling the most victories in school history with a 29-8 overall record. A&M made its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and earned a program-best No. 8 national ranking in the final Associated Press and USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Top 25 Polls. In addition, the Aggies advanced to the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament and earned a program-best No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament Oklahoma City Regional with the league’s automatic bid.
Senior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) and junior Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) capped off the night by sharing the team’s MVP award. Both were named Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention selections this past season with Starks averaging a team-leading 16.3 points per game which ranked sixth-best among Big 12 scoring leaders and Franklin finishing 14th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.01) which led the league for the fourth-straight year in the category. Both Aggies were honored on the NCAA Oklahoma City All-Regional Team as well as the Big 12 All-Tournament Team with Starks garnering Most Outstanding Player honors.
Senior Morenike Atunrase (Shreveport, La.) was a double award winner as the team’s recipient of the 6th Man Award and Miss Aggie Award for her loyalty and commitment to the university and women’s basketball program. Atunrase, who was drafted 24th overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft, averaged 10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.4 steals off the bench for the Aggies. She earned Big 12 Sixth Man Award honors and finished out her career as the school’s all-time leading shot blocker with a total of 176 which ranks sixth all-time in the Big 12 record books. Atunrase’s mother, Cheron Grayson, and Franklin’s mother, Velesha McCalister, each accepted awards for their daughters who were not in attendance due to mandatory WNBA rookie orientation.
Junior Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) earned a pair of honors including the Miss Hustle Award and Miss Defense Award. She averaged 14.7 points and a team-leading 7.1 rebounds per game this past season. Her 52.9 percent accuracy from the floor was also a team high which ranked fifth-best among Big 12 leaders. Twice selected as Big 12 Player of the Week and an All-Big 12 Defensive Team honoree for the second year in a row, Gant was named an All-Big 12 First Team selection along with Starks who earned the team’s Miss Offense Award.
Freshman Sydney Colson (Houston, Texas) claimed Newcomer of the Year honors after coming off the bench in all 37 games of the season with two starts. She averaged 3.2 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for the Aggies. Meanwhile, sophomore Katrina Limbaha (Riga, Latvia) received the team’s academic award for excellence in the classroom. The Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection holds a 3.8 grade-point average in international business and saw action in 23 games of the season including one start against Stephen F. Austin.
Rounding out the evening’s award honorees was senior Patrice Reado (Houston, Texas) who received Most Improved honors. She averaged 8.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in 36 games played with 24 starts for the Aggies. She became the 19th player all-time to gain entrance into the 500 Rebound Club at A&M and completed her career ranked eighth all-time in career blocked shots (71), ninth all-time in career steals (190) and eighth all-time in career field goal percentage (49.3).
Seniors LaToya Gulley (Fayetteville, Ark.) and Katy Pounds (Shallowater, Texas) were also honored for their contributions to the women’s basketball program and thanked their families, teammates, coaches, support staff, administrators, fans and friends for their support throughout their four-year careers. The five-member senior class was instrumental in the program’s three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, two Big 12 Conference Championships and 93 victories over the last four years, the most of any senior class in program history.
Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair also recognized longtime play-by-play announcer Tom Turbiville who retired from the microphone this season after serving as the voice of Aggie women’s basketball for 12 of the last 15 seasons including A&M’s NCAA Sweet 16 run in 1994 and this year’s NCAA Elite Eight run.
Close to 600 fans attended the event which featured opening remarks by Texas A&M Director of Athletics Bill Byrne and University President Dr. Elsa Murano as well as a special highlight video of A&M’s memorable season produced and edited by Amber Freeman and Justin Baetge of 12th Man Productions. Jerry and Sandra Griffith, distinguished 12th Man Foundation donors, were also honored as Fans of the Year by Coach Blair.
2007-08 TEXAS A&M WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM CELEBRATION BANQUET
April 17, 2008
The Zone Club at Kyle Field
at College Station, Texas
MVP Award – A’Quonesia Franklin and Takia Starks
Miss Aggie Award – Morenike Atunrase
Miss Defense Award – Danielle Gant
Miss Offense Award – Takia Starks
Miss Hustle Award – Danielle Gant
Newcomer of the Year Award – Sydney Colson
6th Man Award – Morenike Atunrase
Most Improved Award – Patrice Reado
Team Academic Award – Katrina Limbaha
Fans of the Year Award – Jerry and Sandra Griffith
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