No. 14 Aggies Make Fifth Straight Big 12 Championship Final
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kelsey Bone's 16 points led No. 22/14 Texas A&M past Oklahoma 79-66 in the semifinals of the Big 12 women's tournament Friday.
The third-seeded Aggies (22-9) will face top-ranked Baylor for the championship Saturday.
Skylar Collins scored 15 points, Alexia Standish 13 and Sydney Carter 10 for Texas A&M, which becomes the first school in league history with five straight appearances in the title game. Kristi Bellock's eight rebounds spearheaded a 38-27 edge on the boards.
Whitney Hand's 24 points paced the second-seeded Sooners (20-12), who shot just 38 percent (20 of 53). Aaryn Ellenberg added 13 and Sharane Campbell 11.
An 8-0 run by the Aggies broke a tie and put them ahead 25-17 with 8:18 left in the first half. They never trailed again. The run was sparked by Collins who had an assist on a jumper by Elonu and back-to-back 3’s from the corner.
Oklahoma closed within 49-45, but Texas A&M ripped off a 12-3 run for a 61-48 lead with 9:35 left to virtually seal it.
The Aggies led 40-35 at halftime and shot a staggering 54 percent.
Top-seeded Baylor cruised past Kansas State 86-65 to reach the final.
• For the first time this season, Texas A&M used the starting lineup of Alexia Standish, Sydney Carter, Skylar Collins, Adaora Elonu and Kelsey Bone.
• Texas A&M moves to 20-27 in the all-time series with Texas A&M. The Aggies have won seven of the last eight meetings between the two rivals.
• The Aggies are 4-2 when playing OU in the Big 12 Championship and have faced the Sooners in the tournament each of the last three years.
• The Aggies move to 5-2 all-time in the semifinals, 3-1 against the No. 2 seed and 15-13 overall in all Big 12 Championship games.
• The Aggies are 8-5 on national TV this season.
• The Aggies are 11-2 this season when four or more players score double figures.
• The Aggies are 15-1 when scoring over 70 points this season.
• The Aggies are 18-2 when leading at the half.
• A&M took advantage of 16 OU miscues, outscoring the Sooners 17-8 off turnovers.
• A&M dominated down low, doubling up OU’s points in the paint, 32-16.
• For just the fifth time this season and second straight game, A&M made five 3-point field goals.
• Collins had a first-half career-best 10 points on the way to a career-high 15.
• Bellock’s eight rebounds were a career-best and she added 6 points and two assists in just 13 minutes of action.
• Standish continues her hot streak from 3-point range going 13-18 (.722) in the last five games.
• Bone scored in double figures for the 23rd time this season, Carter for the 19th, Standish for the fourth and Collins for the third time.
Texas A&M – 79
Oklahoma – 66
An Interview With:
COACH GARY BLAIR
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by
Coach your opening thoughts.
COACH BLAIR: First another big
ballgame for Big 12 and for the nation to watch it.
You saw some very, very good guard play on both
teams early in the ballgame.
Whitney Hand is just a load. She's such a
good player and such a smart player. And she's
got the whole game. But we're so proud of my
team. Again, we were without Tyra White, and we
used that 12th man thing; who is going to step up
and be the 12th man for us this time.
Tonight it was a little bit of everything.
Collins had to go in. She had the hard task the
majority of the time guarding Hand. But Hand had
the task of guarding her, too.
And that was a career high for Skylar. She
did a heck of a job hitting those big 3s in that left
corner. But she's been waiting her turn patiently.
A lot of times seniors, when they never
become starters, their lip hits the ground and
they're never able to do it.
Skylar, what was the statement above the
dressing room door that I had you read out?
SKYLAR COLLINS: It was a quote by
Serena Williams and it said: Luck has nothing to
do with it.
Because of the many, many hours, the
countless hours that I've put in to get to this
COACH BLAIR: To be able to seize the
moment and get the moment. It was right above
our board there, Serena Williams' comment.
And she's waited patiently. Graduated
three years, been working on her master's. It was
her time. Tomorrow it might be somebody else.
Look at what Bellock did on the offensive boards in
the second half. Every time they had a chance to
come back, she cleaned them up. Look at what
Bone did in the second half after -- she's got
teammates to thank and to rest her. Karla played
very well in there and Cierra did as well.
But, again, I'm getting good point guard
play. When you get good point guard play and she
plays with a confidence, they were not leaving her
as many open looks, because we shot them out of
the zone early that they were in and, I think, we
executed 4 out of 5 possessions against a zone
and they had to go back to man, and I thought we
were very patient.
Really didn't turn the ball over until the
end. But I don't know what we have left for
tomorrow. But we're going to leave this Big 12
conference as champions, whether we're
defending champions or whether we're competing
for a championship, and that's the message I'm
going to give to my kids tomorrow to play, because
I believe we are champions.
And I'm pleased with the effort and how
hard we played. I was pleased with how hard
Oklahoma played. We always have great games.
But, hey, it's yours.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the
Q. Skylar, comment on your start and
how hard it was to get the team rolling early.
SKYLAR COLLINS: I wouldn't say my
start was too hot. Coach Blair wasn't happy with
me the first couple of minutes in the game, made
some stupid mistakes. Pulled me out pretty quick.
March 9, 2012
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Texas A&M - 3.9.12 2
When he put me back in, that's when I settled
down and got into the flow of the offense and
played hard on the defensive end and just did
whatever the team needed me to do at that point.
Q. Kelsey, can you talk about what was
working for you in the second half?
KELSEY BONE: I just knew that Coach
Blair at halftime told me to just attack. He told me
whoever was in front of me, it didn't matter, just
Maryann was on the bench and she kept
staying in my ear, telling me, hey, you can score.
At any time you want, when choose to, you can
So I think I was a lot more aggressive than
I've been the past few games. So I think that
aggression just kind of carried over. And if a shot
went up and it didn't go in, I had a teammate to
pick it up and get the rebound and put it back in,
and I think that's when we really got rolling.
Q. Kelsey, let's talk about tomorrow.
You played against her a lot of times. Talk
about tomorrow, what it would mean to give
them an L.
KELSEY BONE: You know, it's a great
rivalry. So anytime we can go up against them,
we're going to have fun with it. It's our last game in
the Big 12. It's our seniors' last game in the Big
12. It's everybody's last game in the Big 12.
So I think tomorrow's going to be a battle.
They're a great team. It would mean a lot to us to
beat them, but we're going to come out and we're
going to have our game plan ready that our
coaches are going to give us, and we're going to
execute it to the best of our ability.
Q. Alexia, your role obviously changed
today. Could you talk a little bit about what it
was today and what you felt you were able to
ALEXIA STANDISH: I think yesterday the
shots were open, and so I got to take the shots
today. The shots weren't really there for me. So I
had to play the point guard role of just being a
leader and telling my team what to do and where
to be and just encouraging and being motivating
and just getting -- so that was more my role today
in the game.
Q. Skylar, Coach mentioned the corner
shots. Looked like you pulled the trigger really
fast. Was that the game plan for you to take
that shot, if it was there, drive, if not, what
exactly was it?
SKYLAR COLLINS: I'm pretty sure that
wasn't the game plan at all. I'm pretty sure when I
took that first shot Coach Blair was probably about
to lose his mind until it went through the net, and
then he calmed down. So I was feeling it. I shot it
and prayed for the best.
Q. This program is now in its fifth
consecutive Big 12 final, which says a lot about
the consistency. Can you just talk about
having been part of that, what has made this
program able to reach that height so often?
SKYLAR COLLINS: Well, Coach Schaefer
always preaches to us it's not what we do but it's
how we do it. And this program is built around an
aggressive defense that's going to get out and
pressure the ball and deny the wings.
And I think that makes a lot of teams
uncomfortable. And I think that's where our
success has been. And it's always started on the
defensive end for us. And I think that's why we've
been able to compete at the levels that we're
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Questions for Coach.
Q. Tyra for tomorrow, status for
tomorrow, was it better today?
COACH BLAIR: Randy, your story in the
paper was great the other day. I appreciate the
time. It was well written. It had some pretty good
And she's meant a whole lot to Kansas
City basketball, along with Tanisha and Danielle.
But what Tyra White has done has been very
special. She's going to be a winner whether she
plays or not.
We'll have to see once we put it -- put the
tennis shoe on. This morning it was hurting too
bad. It was still too much pain. And why risk an
And our bench is stepping up. Opportunity
comes. And I'm just proud of my team. I'm proud
of my coaching staff. I'd love for her to play, but
unless she looks better, we will not use our
shootaround in the morning since we're playing
breakfast at Wimbledon or whatever we're doing
But it's going to be a late night for coaches
and early morning for our team, because when you
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Texas A&M - 3.9.12 3
have to do pregame at seven in the morning, that's
not great right there.
So I don't know. Tell you the truth, I do not
Q. Gary, what you were able to do on
defense, at halftime you had an 11-2 edge on
points off turnovers. Could you talk a little bit
about what you were able to do in defense to
slow everything down.
COACH BLAIR: I think Coach Schaefer
got into them about the responsibility that they had.
When we switched to zone for a few possessions,
they missed about three 3s that they normally hit.
That gave us confidence. And then we converted
on the other end, and sometimes that's what
happens, but they hit 3, White open 3s that all
three of them missed.
And we tried to mix and match, because
my lineup, we were going in and out. We were just
trying to play who was hot. But other than that,
when you play a tournament like this, you cannot
press. We wouldn't have anything left for
I think we pressed in about three
possessions totally ineffective. But Coach
Schaefer, Just do your job, and that's what he
preaches to the kids.
Skylar, quit being beat by Hand as much
as she was in the first half. We place a great help
in defense. But when they penetrate and drive,
they're not looking to score, they're looking to
throw the 3 ball. And that's what they were so
good at in the first half. And I think they still 6 out
of 17. I'd love to get to the Final Four by giving up
the most 3s in the history of basketball. And we've
given them up this year.
Q. Could you talk about what your
thoughts were after the first seven seconds of
COACH BLAIR: Here it comes again.
Somebody got beat on penetration. I'm not sure
who it was. I thought it was Carter. But she's not
admitting to it.
So somebody got beat. Bone tried to take
the charge. And she's not Meesha (phonetic) in
there that took a lot of charges. But that's how we
operate. We protect the basket.
And I do not mind that foul as much as I
allow the penetration. The second foul, by
offensive foul, I thought it was a flop. But D
thought it was a different way.
And she sold it very well, and give her
credit. We had a Final Four-officiating crew.
Probably between the three of them, I know Scott
said 15, D said about 15, and Lisa's had about 12.
So think of how many Final Fours they've had.
That was probably the best crew you could
possibly have. So I didn't have a problem at all
really with the second foul except that I thought
she flopped it a little.
Q. I think you've eliminated the
Sooners four straight years in the tournament.
Why do you think you have such success?
Two of those teams went on to the Final Four.
Why do you think you had such success
COACH BLAIR: The respect I have for
Oklahoma, the respect I have for Sherri, the
athletes she recruits. I get up for playing Sherri
and Oklahoma. That's going to be one of the
rivalries that I'll miss more than anything in the Big
12 is going against Sherri.
I mean, my God, she outdresses me every
time. She looks better than I ever have, and she's
got Whitney Hand over there. Everything about
Oklahoma I like. And I'm tired of them coming
down taking all our football players away, okay?
They need to stay across that border.
No, Oklahoma plays a wide-open offensive
game. Okay? They're known for their offense.
They're known for their 3s in transition. They're
known for their quick hitters that they do. Their
double screens. I thought we did a decent job on
Ellenberg tonight. She hit 5 out of 11. But
sometimes that kid can go off for 30 in a minute.
But Karla was on her. So whatever she
earns, Carter is always going to be on the other
team's best player.
Q. You had some struggles for most of
the year shooting the outside jumper, and even
free throw issues throughout the season.
What's it been -- what's been the difference in
postseason play for this group?
COACH BLAIR: More confidence. We're
starting to execute better. We're starting to get
more wide-open looks instead of contesting. It's
taken a while for our post players to become better
We're still not perfect in that. But if we
have a screening offense -- we won a national
championship with that same offense. And it's
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Texas A&M - 3.9.12 4
taken my point guards a little bit longer to get into
the timing, to be able to pocket pass, to be able
to -- when we run that 2-3 play, for Carter to come
screaming off of there and have the dump-in to
Jelena or something, it just takes time.
We've now shot five straight games,
correct me if I'm wrong, 46 percent or better, I think
in five straight ballgames. And that's how we
finished the last year shooting the ball that good,
because you know defensively we're not as good
as what we were last year, but offensively we're
not as good as we were last year, but we're pretty
damn good with what we do have.
Q. How much fun is it that it's Baylor
again? And I'm sure you have a plan now to
stop Brittney Griner, right?
COACH BLAIR: I remember Jody
Conradt's best compliment that she gave us when
she had to go against our defense. Her last year
she said she'd rather go to the dentist and have a
root canal. And I thought that was a great
compliment to what we did defensively.
She was as good today as I've ever seen
her. The 15-footers were just money in the bank.
It was just like Hakeem or Wilt shooting over
everybody, because you cannot get up there with
her. But do you see how hard she moves without
the ball? I've never seen a kid that can play
40 minutes and not sweat.
And she doesn't sweat. She just plays
hard. She's good for our game. What are we
going to do? The last time we played her pretty
good. It depends on how long our post players
can stay in there, and it also depends on how the
game is going to be called.
Are they going to let us bump and grind a
little bit, because it's a championship game, are
they going to call the nitty-picky things. But what
we've got to do, we've got to earn our fouls. You
have to earn them.
Don't help them out by making any cheap
fouls. You cannot forget about Odyssey, and
Destiny Williams is probably the best offensive
rebounder in this game, because all she has to do
is go to the boards every time Brittney shoots. And
usually she takes it out of the net.
But she's a great offensive rebounder.
We've got to free our shooters up. Hayden and
Madden do not get the credit that they should get,
because they're taller wings. They're 5'11'', 6', and
it's hard for us to get Carter and Standish open
I'm more worried about us scoring against
Baylor right now. Okay? I'm more worried about
us scoring. We've gotta do a good job like we did
at our place about a week ago.
So let's think about Oklahoma right now,
that it's going to be a long night. Breakfast with us
tomorrow. Y'all come. Randy? This is the way it
should end. The two top teams should be playing
each other, and this is the way it should end.
And I think the committee will finally agree
that these two teams should not have to be in the
Last year it worked to our advantage. This
year I would rather go see Colson in Poland than
go to Baylor's region again.
But tomorrow we're looking forward to the
opportunity. We're on house money now; let's just
play relaxed and go and see who can come off my
bench and be the next star.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
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