COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- No. 25 Texas A&M had four players in double-figure scoring, led by a game-high 27 points from Morenike Atunrase, as the Aggies posted a 79-67 Big 12 women's basketball victory over Texas at Reed Arena Wednesday night in a State Farm Lone Star Showdown contest. The Aggies also used a 19-for-22 effort from the foul line, which included a 16-for-18 performance from the charity stripe in the final half.
Texas, now 13-12 overall, goes to 7-7 in the Big 12 with the setback. The Longhorns finish finish regular season play away from Austin with a 5-7 record (3-7 in away games and 2-0 at neutral sites). A&M, ranked 25th in this week's AP poll, improves to 20-7 overall and to 9-5 in the Big 12. The Aggies swept the home-and-home series with the Longhorns this year, also winning in Austin (73-53 on Feb. 8).
The Aggies turned 20 Texas turnovers into 24 points off turnovers, dominating in the points off turnovers category. Texas scored 10 points off turnovers. A&M turned the ball over 14 times.
Texas, which shot 45 percent for the game, was led by a career-high tying 17 points from freshman guard Erika Arriaran. Senior point guard Nina Norman added 16 points, and junior forward Tiffany Jackson finished with 15 to round out the double-figure Longhorn scorers. Norman also added a career-high and game-high tying nine assists.
Down by 10 at intermission, Texas came out on fire offensively to start the second half, hitting eight of their first nine shots and nine of their first 12 field goal attempts.
Texas started the half with a 13-3 run in the first 3:14, tying the game at 40-all on a Norman drive with 14:46 to go. A 3-point jumper by A'Quonesia Franklin and an Atunrase pullup jumper gave the Aggies the lead, 45-40, before the Longhorns countered with a 3-pointer by Daria Mieloszynska to cut the A&M lead to two, 45-43, with 13:16 to go. The Aggies pushed the lead to 47-43 on a Patrice Reado putback 22 seconds later before Arriaran pulled Texas to within one, 47-46, with a straightaway 3-pointer on UT's next trip down the floor with 12:42 left. That Arriaran trey was the eighth made field goal in nine shots to start the half for UT.
That was the closest the Longhorns would get, as the Aggies scored nine of the game's next 12 points and pushed the lead to seven, 56-49, on a Lenka Zimova layup with 8:45 to go. In the 9-3 Aggie run, Texas missed two shots and had two turnovers.
After starting the half 9-for-12 in shooting, the Longhorns finished making just four of its last 14 shots while turning the ball over three times in the final nine minutes of action. Down by five (63-58) with 2:42 to play, Texas tried to get the ball back by repeatedly fouling in the final minutes, but the Aggies went 12-for-14 down the stretch from the line to keep the Longhorns at bay.
In the first half, the Aggies made 46 percent of their shots (17-of-37) while Texas hit 38 percent of its field goal attempts (8-of-21). A&M doubled UT's scoring in the paint in the first 20 minutes, 20-10, led by Atunrase's 14 points. Texas was hurt by 12 turnovers, while the Aggies committed just five in the first period.
For the game, Texas was 16-for-21 from the foul line. The Aggies held a 36-29 edge in rebounding. Joining Atunrase in double-figure scoring for A&M were A'Quonesia Franklin (14 points), Takis Starks (13) and Reado (12).
In the State Farm Lone Star Showdown between Texas and Texas A&M, it is a points race across all sports that UT and A&M compete in; this is the second year of competition. Texas currently holds a 6.5-2.05 State Farm LSSD points edge; a school needs 10 points to win the Showdown for the year. Texas claimed the Showdown title last year (14.5 to 4.5). Texas women's basketball earned a full point with two wins over the Aggies a year ago, while A&M, with its two women's wins this year, earned the point in 2005-06.
The Longhorns return to action on Sunday, Feb. 26 for its next-to-last regular season game. Texas hosts Texas Tech in a 3 p.m. contest at the Frank Erwin Center which will be televised on ESPN2. Texas then closes out the regular season by hosting No. 10 Baylor on Wednesday, March 1 with a 7:30 p.m. "Texas Senior Night" contest at the Erwin Center.
For tickets to the last two Texas regular season games, go to TexasBoxOffice.com or call 512-471-3333 or 1-800-982-BEVO. For charge-by-phone, you can call 512-477-6060. Tickets can be purchased in person at the following locations: Bellmont Hall Athletics Ticket Office (Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m-4 p.m. Central); and at any Texas Box Office location, including the Frank Erwin Center (Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and game days prior to tipoff) or at Austin area H-E-B stores.
The game promotions for the Texas-Texas Tech game are as follows: "Nike Day", where fans who wear Nike apparel and receive $2 off one general admission ticket. For UT student who wear OZone T-shirts can win Longhorn Fossil watches (awarded pre-game/during game). Pre-game, there is a tailgate party for all Longhorn fans in Lot 108 (adjacent to the Erwin Center, near the Cooley Pavilion side of the lot), beginning at 1 pm. Fans are asked to bring their own food or drinks.
Texas Head Coach Jody Conradt
"It was a hard-fought contest, but down the stretch we couldn't get a break, nor could we help ourselves more because we had too many turnovers. It was a pretty competitive game of two halves for us, which is encouraging. We got ourselves into a hole in the first half, but we did not get down. We responded well, especially to start the second half. Morenike (Atunrase) was too much for us tonight. She is a terrific player who creates her own shot. She was too much for us to handle.
Defensively, I felt we were pretty good, except for taking care of Atunrase and the fact that Takia Starks made some really tough shots in the first half. We gave up the ball 20 times tonight on turnovers. That's hard to beat someone with that many turnovers.
We knew that Texas A&M was 12th in the Big 12 in defensive rebounding, and we wanted to make that a priority tonight - to crash the boards. We should have capitalized on that more, and should have gotten more second and third opportunities in shots. Then, we complicated things in the final minutes by not rebounding and also going down the floor three times in a row, throwing the ball away each time without getting a shot off. In my mind, that was the ballgame."