COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Four players scored in double figures to lead No. 8 Texas A&M to its fifth-straight win in Big 12 Conference play in a 79-49 rout of Oklahoma State Thursday night before a crowd of 7,075 which included a school-record 2,091 students at Reed Arena.
The Aggies (23-5, 11-4) are now in a tie for second place with Baylor (23-5, 11-4) in the league standings and have won more game remaining in the regular season prior to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship on March 12-15 in Oklahoma City. Both teams will be vying for a No. 2 seed in the postseason tournament in their meeting on Saturday.
Senior All-America candidate Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first half of play in which the Aggies jumped out to a 27-9 run behind back-to-back three-pointers by sophomore Sydney Colson (Houston, Texas) and a pair by Starks. A&M would go on to bury a season-high nine against the Cowgirls (15-13, 4-11) for the ballgame.
A&M took a 39-27 lead into the locker room and never relinquished its double-digit advantage in the second half. The Aggie defense held OSU to a season-low 49 points and its top player Andrea Riley to 15.
Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Tanisha Smith (Kansas City, Mo.) found her scoring touch in the second half with 13 of her game-high tying 18 points. Senior All-America candidate Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) added 11 points in her final game at Reed Arena, while Colson ended the night with 14.
The Aggies will close out the regular season on the road at No. 5 Baylor (23-5, 11-4) on Saturday, March 7 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. Tipoff between A&M and the Lady Bears is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (CT).
• For the 11th time this season, Texas A&M used the starting five of Sydney Colson, Takia Starks, Tanisha Smith, Danielle Gant and La Toya Micheaux (9-2).
• Prior to the game, the Aggies honored four graduating seniors in Takia Starks (Houston, Texas), Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.), La Toya Micheaux (Missouri City, Texas) and Kiley Finstad (Cranfills Gap, Texas) as well as three team managers in J.D. Wood (Onalaska, Texas), Taylor Cooley (Harker Heights, Texas) and Ryan Lindsey (Lubbock, Texas).
• Texas A&M had 7,075 fans in attendance to mark its seventh-largest crowd in school history. It was the sixth-best crowd overall for a non-men’s and women’s doubleheader game. Of the total, a school-record 2,091 students including members of Texas A&M’s Corp of Cadets were in attendance to cheer on the Aggies against the Cowgirls.
• Takia Starks continues on a 15-game double-digit scoring streak through Big 12 Conference play and put up 18 in her final home game at Reed Arena.
• The 2009 Senior Class claimed its 100th win in their four-year careers in Aggieland versus OSU. They won an unprecedented 57 of their 62 home games since their freshman campaign in 2005-06.
• Junior Tanisha Smith has now dished out a career-high seven assists in her last two ballgames against Oklahoma State and Kansas State. She has gone 14-to-1 for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 14.0 versus the Cowgirls and Wildcats combined. Smith also turned in her 12th double-digit game of the season.
• The Aggies closed out the regular season at home with a 13-1 mark. It was only the third time in school history to have one loss or less on their home court next to a 14-1 mark in 1993-94 and an undefeated 16-0 mark in 2006-07.
• Texas A&M knocked down the three ball a season-high nine times against Oklahoma State including five first-half three-pointers.
• The Aggie defense held OSU to a season-low 49 points which was also the third-lowest output by the Cowgirls in the all-time series. Their previous season-low was 51 at Arkansas-Little Rock on Dec. 6. A&M also limited the nation’s second-leading scorer Andrea Riley (23.9 ppg) to 15 points in the ballgame.
• A&M, who ranks No. 16 in the nation in scoring defense as of March 1, has held its last two opponents to under 50 points including 45-point output by Kansas State on March 1.
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
On the keys to the ballgame …
“Keeping fresh people on (Andrea) Riley was the key to the ballgame, particularly when we put (Danielle) Gant on her in the second half. I think that really slowed her down. We were trying not to foul her in the second half. Dissecting the zone early was the key to ballgame, making the extra pass and we ran a lot of different sets at it. I thought we had good shots early. We got up 31-12 and I started to sub a little, but the bench had trouble dissecting and I knew eventually they’d make a run which they did.”
On Tanisha Smith’s play …
“I got on her pretty good at the half. I told her to quit shooting the three-ball and put it on the floor. She’s the most explosive wing in our conference, as far as being able to put the ball on the floor and make her shot. What she did at the start of the first half was pretty darn good. That kid is just going to get better and better. She takes a lot of pressure off of (Takia) Starks and (Danielle) Gant.”
On Senior Night …
“I haven’t lost on too many senior nights, maybe one or two in 24 years. I read the kids a little poem that was sent to me that was very apropos, on learning how to lean on someone’s shoulder and have someone there for you. Those seniors back each other on-and off-the-court. They won’t be able to appreciate their class until five or 10 years from now. As we get older, we learn to remember and appreciate things. Those four seniors are very special to our program.”
On the upcoming schedule …
“I hope our best ball is in front of us. We’re playing well and believing in ourselves. Hopefully, we’re on a roll. But, Baylor is the game that we really want, because we want that No. 2 seed. If we lose to Baylor, we could drop to the No. 4 seed. You want to get away from Oklahoma and their crowd. We have to find whatever we’ve got left. Baylor will be jacked up for that ballgame, and that’s the way it should be. Their three seniors against our three seniors. All those kids are friends and they mean a lot to each program. Our two teams match up better than any two teams in this conference. We are very similar to them than any other team we play.”
Texas A&M Senior Guard Takia Starks
On her hot start in the first half …
“It was Senior Night and I wanted to play great for the team, not rush, and take the shots given to me.”
On Senior Night …
“Actually, this was the first game I came out with jitters. This was my last game here at Reed Arena and I wanted to play well. We ended on a good note.”
On looking ahead …
“That’s been the talk lately, getting that No. 2 seed (in the Big 12 Tournament) and sealing it. Like always, we take one team at a time and handle one task at a time. I’m looking forward to playing Baylor at their house. That’s what our focus is now. I feel like we’re on a roll. Everyone’s clicking and our defense is on a roll. I feel confident, if we keep playing the way we’re playing.”
Texas A&M Senior Guard/Forward Danielle Gant
On Senior Night …
“Before the game, I walked out with my mom and I told her not to cry. I was little shaky too, because my whole family was here to see me play my last home game. It was very special.”
On the team’s effort …
“It wasn’t easy down the stretch, especially guarding (Andrea) Riley. She’s tough to guard. It wasn’t that easy, but our defense was great tonight. We had great help-side defense and our transition was good, too.”
Texas A&M Junior Guard/Forward Tanisha Smith
On the difference in her play in each half …
“In the first half, I came out kind of cold. I was open, but in the second half, my penetration brought my shot on. If I penetrate, I know my three-pointer will fall. I had to just be patient with my shot.”
On having fun on the court tonight …
“It was about the seniors tonight. I was real close to DG (Danielle Gant) when I came on my visit, I think I talked to her the most. I like how they take ownership of the team, leadership, everything. I played my guts out for the seniors.”
On the big win and getting ready for Baylor …
“This was a must win, to be truthful. We’re trying to get the No. 2 seed (in the Big 12 Tournament). We have to win against Baylor to get that, but we still have to take it one game at a time.”
Oklahoma State Head Coach Kurt Budke
On the game …
“I really have nothing to say about the game. I wish them well. They are playing like a high seed in the NCAA Tournament right now. I’m glad those seniors are graduating, because they are awfully good players. I just want to wish them good luck (heading into the Big 12 and NCAA Tournament).”