COLLEGE STATION, Texas – There’s no place like home. No. 4 Texas A&M rolled to its eighth-straight victory of the season with an 80-48 blowout of former Southwest Conference rival SMU Sunday afternoon before a season-high crowd of 3,563 at Reed Arena.
It marked the Aggies’ eighth-straight win on their home court, having been tested on the road for six of its first seven games of the season to continue on their best-ever start in school history.
Senior All-America candidate Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) scored 14 of her game-and season-high 21 points in the first half of play as the Aggies took a 43-18 advantage into halftime. Starks moved into third all-time in career scoring with 1,525 career points to date to surpass former A&M greats Donna Roper (1985-89) and Prissy Sharpe (1996-00) in the A&M record books.
Two other Aggies joined Starks in the double-figure column with 13 from senior All-America candidate Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) who scored A&M’s first five points of the ballgame and freshman Adaora Elonu (Houston, Texas) who added a near double-double performance with 12 points and eight rebounds to the mix.
The Mustang offense had no chance against the A&M defense which has now held six of its eight opponents this season to under 32 percent shooting from the floor and 20 percent accuracy from beyond the three-point arc.
SMU (2-5) hit only 30.4 percent (17-of-56) of its field goals and 18.8 percent (3-of-16) of its three-point attempts for the game. Brittany Gilliam turned in a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds as the Mustangs remained without a road win in three tries this season.
Up next, the Aggies will hit the books in preparation for final exams, before playing host to Texas State (3-4) on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. (CT) at Reed Arena.
• For the fourth time this season, Texas A&M used the starting five of Sydney Colson, Takia Starks, Danielle Gant, Adaora Elonu and La Toya Micheaux (4-0).
• Takia Starks scored a season-high 21 points against SMU to move past former players Donna Roper (1,513) and Prissy Sharpe (1,506) in A&M’s all-time career scoring list with 1,525 career points to date. She went a season-best 7-of-13 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. It marked her 18th 20-point game of her career.
• Adaora Elonu turned in back-to-back double-digit games with 12 versus SMU and a career-high 17 at Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 2. She has reached double figures in three games this season including 10 at Michigan on Nov. 20.
• A&M earned its third-straight win in the all-time series versus SMU to mark its 25th victory overall. It marked the first time in the last six games of the series in which a contest between the Aggies and Mustangs was decided in double figures (+32) since an 18-point A&M loss at SMU (92-74) on March 1, 2006.
• The Aggie defense held SMU to its fewest points in a half this season with 18 first-half points. The Mustangs’ previous low was 29 first-half points at Eastern Illinois on Nov. 22. A&M has held three opponents this year to under 20 points in the first half with SMU (18 points) on Dec. 7, Stephen F. Austin (12 points) on Dec. 2 and Mercer (15 points) on Nov. 14.
• A&M has outscored opponents by more than 10 points a game in four of its last five contests. A&M’s 32-point margin of victory was its second-largest of the season next to a 41-point rout of SFA (77-36) on Dec. 2.
• The Aggies scored their most points in a game this season with 80 total against SMU including a season-best 43 first-half points. It marked their third consecutive game to surpass 70+ points along with 70 at Pepperdine on Nov. 29 and 77 at Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 2.
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
On the game …
“This is our hardest fall by far. Our point guards had a good game for us and I liked how they filled the stat page up today. Sydney Carter has been our most improved player on our basketball team. We started the game by trying to make it fast and ugly. (La Toya) Micheaux did a good job of setting screens on boards, but we have to make sure we can play the game clean and physical. (Takia) Starks looked like herself today and (Danielle) Gant was playing hard. When she gets the ball in the lane she creates havoc.”
On finals this week and playing at home …
“We do not play again for seven days and we need to stay in the flow of the game. This is the most depth we have ever had and we have a lot of options. We have to keep developing our post game. We had a lot of good looks in this last ballgame against SMU. I like my basketball team. The crowd was ready for basketball after seeing what the men did on Friday night (against Arizona). That was a tremendous win for our school. We have had a lot of those type of games on the road this season. College Station is slowly turning into a basketball town and it is good.”
On grading the team’s offense …
“I would grade us as a C. We can improve with the lack of turnovers and more consistency in our inside game. The defense will get better when we go into Big 12 play. We have been studying hard on the road.”
Texas A&M Senior Guard Takia Starks
On the game and her 20-point breakout …
“I wouldn’t call it a breakout game. It was just a solid night for my team and I. Tonight, I wanted to go in and stay focused and be patient with my shot selection. I wanted to take what their defense gave me and drive to the basket more than shooting threes. I just wanted to be more aggressive out there.”
On the team’s depth this season and the flow of the game with the new rotations …
“We have a deep bench. We (the starting five) were trying to go out there and execute our game plan. We tried to make it a fun game, so everyone could get in. We came out slow in the second half, but we picked it up. We have been known to do that this year. We worked hard to get our lead back, so we could get our young players in.”
Texas A&M Freshman Forward Adaora Elonu
On the difference of playing at home instead of on the road …
“The excitement. It gets very loud and it is hard to hear plays. It gets our adrenaline running. It is nice to play at home than on the road.”
SMU Head Coach Rhonda Rompola
On the game …
“I have seen a lot of Gary Blair teams going back to his early days (at SFA and Arkansas). This is by far the best team that I’ve seen him put on the floor. I told our team that I felt that we played against the best pressure in the country. They have done a fantastic job of getting this team to play together. Not only are they good, they are athletic, they are quick, they are physical, they are big, they get after you and they work hard. It seems to me that their chemistry is very good. The two keys for us going into this game was to handle pressure and to try to get them off the offensive boards. They came out and took it to us in the beginning. We got down early and got done on ourselves. We are a team that is trying to find our identity. We are trying to find leaders. This was a learning process for us. We were able to play some of our freshmen to get some minutes and see the level of play and speed of the game. When you have someone like (Takia) Starks hitting the shots that she hit today with people in her face, it is tough to defend. They have shooters and have an inside game. I did not see any weaknesses.”
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