COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 3 Texas A&M remained undefeated on an already record-breaking season with a 64-50 victory over No. 24 TCU Sunday afternoon before a season-high crowd of 5,395 at Reed Arena.
The Aggies improved their school-record start to a perfect 10-0, while the Lady Frogs dropped their second-straight top 25 matchup to fall to 8-4 on the season. The win marked the first time in school history that A&M has beaten two top 25 non-conference opponents in regular-season action next to a 56-50 win over No. 23 Pittsburgh in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16.
Senior All-America candidate Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) knocked down a season-high tying 21 points including 18 in the first half which was three points less than TCU’s overall team score at halftime, 35-21. The A&M defense caused havoc for the Lady Frogs from the get-go as they committed three quick turnovers in the opening minutes of the ballgame and 13 total in the first half alone which was more than the team’s season average of 12.4 which ranked No. 6 nationally among NCAA statistical leaders this week.
With both teams tied at 13 in the early stretch, Starks hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 8:09 left in the first half to mark the second and final lead change of the game. A minute later, she extended A&M’s lead out to five on a jumper, 18-13, and the Aggies never looked back. TCU was able to close the gap to as few as six on two free throw makes by Micaela Younger with 13:33 remaining in regulation, 41-35, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Aggies who have now won 36 straight against non-conference opponents at home.
Freshman Adaora Elonu (Houston, Texas) was the only other Aggie player to reach double figures with 10 points, while senior center La Toya Micheaux added a career-high tying 14 rebounds and sophomore point guard Sydney Colson (Houston, Texas) dished out eight assists in the winning cause. Meanwhile, TCU was paced by TK LaFleur, a junior transfer from Nebraska, who turned in a game-high 22 points.
A&M goes into the holiday break unbeaten for the first time in school history and will next face 2008 NCAA Tournament participant New Mexico (11-1) on Tuesday, Dec. 30 at Reed Arena. Tipoff between the Aggies and Lobos is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT). The Half-Price Holiday Hoops promotion continues with tickets available for as low as $2.50 which can be purchased by calling 1-888-99-AGGIE, by going online at www.12thmanfoundation.com, or in person at the 12th Man Foundation Ticket Center’s Kyle Field or Reed Arena locations.
• For the sixth time this season, Texas A&M used the starting five of Sydney Colson, Takia Starks, Danielle Gant, Adaora Elonu and La Toya Micheaux (6-0).
• With the victory, A&M improved to 2-0 against top 25 competition this season and 29-3 overall in the all-time series with TCU. The Lady Frogs have yet to beat A&M on its home court as the Aggies improved their home record versus the Lady Frogs to an unblemished 16-0.
• The Aggies continue their school-record 10-0 start to the season which marked the first time in Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair’s 24-year coaching career to lead a Division I program to a perfect 10-0 record and the second time a team under Blair has gone into the Christmas holiday break unbeaten. He previously led No. 11 Stephen F. Austin to a 9-0 start to the 1988-89 season with a 74-55 win over Kansas on Jan. 4, 1989, and an 8-0 record leading into the holiday break.
• A&M had a season-high crowd of 5,395 in attendance at Reed Arena. It marked the 12th largest crowd in school history and third-largest crowd to attend a non-conference regular-season home game next to doubleheaders with the A&M men’s basketball team versus Pepperdine (6,443) on Nov. 10, 2006 and Western Illinois (6,389) on Jan. 2, 2007.
• Takia Starks turned in her 19th career 20-point game with a season-high tying 21 against TCU. She turned in her highest-scoring first half this season with 18 points versus the Lady Frogs. Her previous high was 14 first-half points against SMU on Dec. 7. Starks has now made 622 field goals during her impressive four-year career and is six away from surpassing former A&M standout Lisa Langston (627), who played for the Aggies from 1982-86, for No. 1 on the career charts for field goals made (627). She currently ranks third all-time in career scoring with 1,560 points to date.
• For the second-straight contest and fourth time this year, La Toya Micheaux led the team in the rebounding column with 14 boards, which tied a career best for the senior center. She moved into sixth all-time in career rebounds (658) surpassing former A&M standout Trigg Crawford (653) who played from 1977-81.
• Adaora Elonu turned in her fourth game in double figures this season with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting against TCU.
• The Aggie defense forced TCU, a team which rarely turns over the ball and was ranked No. 6 nationally with a 12.4 average, into a season-high 23 miscues for the game including 13 in the first half alone.
• A&M also held TCU to its lowest first-half production of the season (21 points) which was one fewer than its 22 first-half points versus Boston College on Nov. 27 in Cancun, Mexico.
• For the first time in school history, A&M has now defeated two top 25 non-conference opponents in regular-season action and improved their home non-conference win streak to 36-straight games at Reed Arena.
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
On the game …
“It was a good, hard-fought win. It was a blue-collar win all of the way. Give TCU a lot of credit. We knew exactly what they were going to do. The triangle and two bothered us a little. Other than that, we had the shots all day long. We just did not knock down the shots in the first half. T-Kay (Starks) was on fire and that is what she is capable of doing. (La Toya) Micheaux was very active and good on the defensive end and on the boards. There are not too many people who can miss or make a turnover and not let it affect them on the next trip. She was a heck of a force in there today.”
On the 10-0 start and trying to remain undefeated …
“We take it one game at a time. You saw what happened in New England (Patriots) in football last year. We treated this game like a conference game. That is how much respect we have for TCU and what Coach Mittie brings to the table every time we play. We did a great job on Helena (Sverrisdottir) in the first half which was key. We did not let her get off and we shared the responsibility of who was going to guard her because we had Danielle Gant in foul trouble. The 10-0 start feels good, because of the body of work that we have put in from the first week of August until now. We did not play this game for anyone else, we played it for ourselves. We did not play it to move up in the rankings, we played it because our hard work has been rewarded.”
Texas A&M Senior Guard Takia Starks
On the difference in her game over the last couple of games …
“It was due to a whole week of practice in preparation for the game. My teammates set me up with screens and I was very comfortable with the shots I took. I tried to take the shots that were available to me and not really force anything. At times, I had to penetrate and attack and find an open man. I stayed within myself and tried not to play outside of myself.”
On the game and holiday break …
“We were just trying to take care of business today. The holiday break is going to be great. We will get a couple of days off, come back refocused and continue to win at home. TCU has been the best team we have played this year. They are a great team, and of course, they were able to make a run and comeback (in the second half), but we were able to finish the game with a win.”
On being undefeated ...
“It is crazy being 10-0 and all of the records we are setting. To be a part of so many record-setting seasons in my four years at A&M is so amazing. The sky’s the limit for us. We definitely can get two rings this year and make the Final Four. It is really up to us. I am very proud of my teammates, especially our young freshmen and our point guards (Sydney Colson and Sydney Carter) who have worked on the zone all week and dissecting it. They (TCU) threw a lot of zone at us, but we stayed within ourselves.”
TCU Head Coach Jeff Mittie
On the game …
“It was a tough game. A&M’s defense took us out of a lot of things. (Takia) Starks in the first half and a little bit of everyone in the second half. We did not handle their pressure very well. They took us out of a lot of stuff in the first half and we did not respond very well to that. The second half was a little bit better. We could not make that one run to get into it enough. We got it to six on (Micaela) Youngers’ free throws, but we could not make that one push. We had a couple of opportunities and we could not make enough shots to get back into it.”
On rating Texas A&M’s defense …
“It’s the best pressure we have seen with all five. They run them in. They play 11 and 12, he has a deep bench, and they can all pressure. That is a change in (La Toya) Micheaux’s game. She has grown as a player and she is more comfortable in defending on the perimeter. She has really improved. Gary has done an excellent job with this program and this team. In my opinion, they are the best No. 3 we have faced this season and the deepest team we have played.”
On TCU’s defense and Takia Starks …
“We have had multiple defenses all year. We did not want (Takia) Starks to get loose like she did. She got loose in the zone. We then tried to play her some man-to-man while playing zone. They (Texas A&M) did a good job of ball screening her and then she hit some tough shots. Once she gets it going, she is tough to stop. You almost have to not ever catch the ball.”
TCU Junior Guard TK LaFleur
On Texas A&M’s pressure defense …
“Their pressure is tough, because on every catch, they are always in you denying the ball. It is hard to even catch the ball. With other teams that we have played, they haven’t been leaning on you or having hands on you when you are trying to get open or even after you catch the ball. That made it tough on us to get our offense going and it took us a while to adjust to that. They are hands on, they have constant contact for 40 minutes and it just wears you down. It is tough to get into an offensive sync.”