ANN ARBOR, Mich. – No. 7 Texas A&M used a balanced scoring attack with four players scoring in double figures to lead the Aggies past Michigan on the road, 59-56, Thursday night at Crisler Center.
Michigan’s Carly Benson missed a last-second three-point attempt to seal the victory for A&M (3-0) who struggled on the offensive end in the first half. U-M broke out to a 7-4 run in the early going. A three-pointer by Texas A&M redshirt freshman and Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Week Tyra White (Kansas City, Mo.) tied the score at seven with 15:15 remaining in the half.
Four more ties in the first half followed as the Wolverines (1-2) stretched their lead by as many as nine in the first half as the Aggies shot 28.1 percent from the floor (9-of-32) including 2-of-12 from beyond the arc.
After being down 30-26 at halftime, A&M inched back in the second half behind improved shooting and pressure defense on the Wolverines who shot just 25 percent (6-of-24) from the field.
Free throws by junior forward Damitria Buchanan (Houston, Texas) put A&M ahead for just the second time in the contest, 40-39, with 14:28 to go. U-M kept it close to the very end with two lead changes under the 12 minute mark on a three-pointer by Jessica Minnfield (42-40) at 11:48 and a free throw by Krista Phillips (43-42) at 9:51.
Senior All-America candidate Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) led all Aggie scorers with 16 points including six of the team’s points in the final stretch. She had a near double-double night with eight rebounds, two steals and two assists versus the Wolverines.
Senior All-America candidate Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) registered 13 points, while White had 12 and freshman forward Adaora Elonu (Houston, Texas) added a career-high 10. Minnfield led Michigan with 14 points.
Up next, A&M travels West for a Big 12-Pac-10 showdown at Arizona on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. (CT) in Tucson, Ariz.
• For the first time this season, Texas A&M used the starting lineup of Sydney Colson, Takia Starks, Tyra White, Danielle Gant and La Toya Micheaux.
• Colson made her third career start against the Wolverines and White her first career start.
• The Aggies had close to 50 Maroon and White-clad fans in the stands with a combination of members of the Michigan and Indiana A&M Clubs in attendance.
• Junior transfer and preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Tanisha Smith did not make the trip to Michigan staying home in College Station to recover from tonsillitis.
• Damitria Buchanan tied a career-high with four key free throw makes against the Wolverines.
• With the victory, A&M is an undefeated 2-0 in the all-times series with Michigan.
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
On the game …
“We were very fortunate to win this game. When you have a team that reaches the Elite Eight and has been to the NCAA Tournament for three-straight years, you know how to win down the stretch. We did a good job of keeping our poise. Give Michigan a lot of credit. They had us scouted very well. It was a good ballgame. Michigan is going to be in the top half of the Big Ten, because they have one of the best coaches in the country in Kevin Borseth.”
On the team’s pressure defense and aggressiveness …
“It did not bother them a whole lot. Most of their turnovers were unforced. We did a good job on the press. We are a very aggressive team and he (Coach Borseth) did exactly what he needed to do to stop our aggressiveness by spreading the floor.”
On Michigan head coach Kevin Borseth …
“From midseason on, he did one of the best coaching jobs in the country last year. Our press will work well at home, but it did not work well tonight. We did not have the same personnel like we did last year against Michigan. When you have five players who can shoot the ball like they do and have a freshman coming off the bench, they are going to be very good.”
TEXAS A&M SENIOR FORWARD/GUARD DANIELLE GANT
On the game and the program’s highest-ever national ranking …
“Everyone is after us right now. We knew going on the road would be hard. We just pulled it out as a team tonight. But, we have a lot to work on and will continue to look at film when we get back home. With Arizona and Penn State up next, it is not going to be easy and we will have to play hard.”