AUSTIN, Texas -- No. 21 ranked Texas A&M used a 13-3 run in the opening eight minutes of the second half to pull away from Texas en route to a 65-50 Big 12 women's basketball victory Sunday in front of 7,516 at the Frank Erwin Center.
Texas drops to 16-11 overall and is now 10-3 at home to date. The Longhorns, 4-9 in the Big 12, shot 44 percent for the game but committed 24 turnovers and took a season-low 36 field goal attempts.
Texas A&M (20-7, 8-5 in the Big 12) swept the home-and-home series from the Longhorns this year, winning both contests in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown rivalry series. A&M shot 48 percent for the game and also went six-for-14 in 3-pointers.
Texas had three players in double-figure scoring, as sophomore guard Brittainey Raven had 13 points, reserve guard Crystal Boyd added 12 points and second-year point guard Carla Cortijo added 10 points. Raven pulled down the most rebounds for UT (five), as the Longhorns were out-rebounded by a 28-25 margin.
The Aggies were led by a game-high 22 points from senior guard Takia Starks. In the 13-3 run to start the second half, Starks had six points and a rebound. Junior guard Danielle Gant and senior point guard A'Quonesia Franklin each added 12 points while senior forward Morenike Atunrase finished with 10 points. Gant and Atunrase each had game-highs of six rebounds.
TAMU started the game with an 18-4 run in the first six and one-half minutes, hitting their first five 3-pointers. Texas then mounted its own run with a 20-9 spurt, propelled by six points by junior Ashley Lindsey and five by Boyd. UT cut the lead to three, 27-24 with 50 seconds to go in the half before a Franklin jumper in the lane with one second left gave the Aggies a 29-24 lead at intermission.
In the second half, Gant scored TAMU's first two baskets, and Franklin followed with a three-pointer while Starks made three consecutive jumpers in that 13-3 run which pushed the Aggies lead to 15 (42-27).
Texas made a late run by utilizing a 12-for-17 effort from the foul line, and cut the lead to 12 points, 58-46, following a Cortijo free throw with 2:24. Yet, TAMU answered with free throws of its own, going five-for-six from the line with a Gant layup to close out the game.
The Aggies sank 11 of 15 free throws in the game while Texas was 16-for-25 from the free throw line. TAMU turned the ball over 19 times andhad 10 steals to UT's eight.
Texas returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 27 with a Big 12 contest in Lawrence, Kansas against the Kansas Jayhawks (15-11, 4-9). That game is at 7 p.m. Central and can be heard on KVET Radio 1300 AM in Central Texas and also via Internet audio at Yahoo! Sports College Broadcast.
Texas has three regular season games remaining with the next two on the road. After facing Kansas, UT goes to No. 11 Oklahoma (Sunday, March 2) and closes out regular season action at home against Texas Tech on Wednesday, March 5.
· Texas goes to 10-3 in games played at home this year with the setback and is 4-3 in Big 12 home games
· UT sophomore guard Brittainey Raven, with 13 points, notched her 26th game in double-figure scoring this year (of 27)
· UT is now 4-6 against Top 25 teams to date, including a 2-5 mark against league teams ranked in the Top 25
· Texas A&M swept the home-and-home series this season and earned a full point for women's basketball in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown, the annual rivalry series between in the two schools in Big 12-sponsored sports
· The 50 points scored by Texas were the second-lowest game point total of the year for UT ... The 36 shots taken by the Longhorns also were a season-low, while the 16 made field goals tied the lowest single game total of the year ... Texas also had 16 FG's in a loss to Nebraska (56-45) on Jan. 9
TEXAS POSTGAME QUOTES
HEAD COACH Gail Goestenkors
Opening statement: I just want to congratulate A&M and say they just played tremendous. They came out on fire right away, shooting and hitting three's (3-pointers) and I think they just played great team basketball. We got off to a very slow start and that was very frustrating. We make a valiant comeback to close out the first half, and then A&M came out in the second half and made a great run on us right away. You have to play your best basketball against them and we certainly did not.
They are the best defensively that we have seen in the conference, so it's hard to run your sets. We obviously turned the ball over too often and we didn't get the ball down to Ashley [Lindsey]. It's about growing and learning and that is what we will continue to do.
Again, I give their defense a lot of credit and they took us out of our sets and what we wanted to do. Then we began to be tentative.
On UT's 24 turnovers: We knew that the back door cuts would be there for us, due to their pressure defense, and too many times we tried to thread the needle and make the tough pass instead of the easy pass. I'm not quite sure why, but it's definitely something we have to fix.
On the lineup changes [starting freshman Kat Nash, more playing time for Crystal Boyd]: We felt like Kat [Nash] is our second leading rebounder and one of our leading scorers, so we wanted to get more of a scoring threat out there and one of our better rebounders out there to start the game. Unfortunately, she didn't get the opportunity to shoot much and she didn't rebound that well, so that backfired on us. Crystal Boyd is someone who can get to the basket and shoot the open three. She was one of our bright spots tonight.
On the attitude of the team and where they stand right now: I asked the players after the game if they felt like they were ready to play and they said they felt ready. I'm not quite sure what the explanation for the lack of focus is. It was frustrating and I wanted to see more fight out of my team and I want to fight for my team.
We're on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but we're headed in the wrong direction. If we don't step it up, our bubble is going to burst pretty quick. Our next few games are going to be tough, but I feel like they are going to be great opportunities to help us. I think when you have a young team, like we do, you always want to go to the postseason. We have to come out and play like we are behind. In terms of the NCAA Tournament right now, we are behind and we are down and we have to fight our way out of this. We have to start each game out like we are behind because that is what we are right now.
JUNIOR GUARD Crystal Boyd
On her game performance today: I just went in the game and tried to help the team as best as I could. I should have rebounded more. We really just have to pick it up. At times we played really hard and we were really focused. The most frustrating things were going into a timeout and trying to fire each other up and they would come right back out and score on us and take that momentum away.
JUNIOR FORWARD Ashley Lindsey
On the team's slow start: I think that it was a lack of focus today and we knew we were down and we knew we had to play better defense in the second half. We weren't as focused as we should've been.
On going against A&M's post defense: The post defenders started to front me and deny more in the second half than they did in the beginning of the game. They brought a lot of pressure throughout the game. They didn't double as much as I thought they would, but they brought it often enough.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME QUOTES
HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
Opening statement: Texas had a very good crowd and we got off to a tremendous start. [A'Quoneisa] Franklin found the open person and [Takia] Starks hit three or four threes to start the game. We had our hats handed to us the first four or five games in conference play and then all of a sudden we found out that the answers are in ourselves. The difference in our team right now is our defensive intensity and we are not making as many mistakes as we had been. There is somebody different to step up every game. We handled Texas' pressure really well and we felt like we needed every bit of energy on the offensive side. When we did break the press, we were shooting open threes and lay-ups every time.
On their defense: I think we have a very good defense and you can see that right there in Texas having 24 turnovers. A lot of kids start the ball game thinking about how many points they can score, but our kids think about how few points they can keep the other team to. We didn't run as many ball screens this time because we knew they were going to trap us. Starks has had a great career and I'm proud to have her on my team. She started playing today again like the star player that she is.
On the difference in their defense: All of a sudden, we just went back to the practice court and we just went back to work. We went back to the basic drills on defense and we would just run the same four or five drills. On offense, we started making better decisions. This team has been together for three straight years and other teams got used to the way our teams played. We started doing things a little differently and that is where it has paid off.
On the difference in the game: We are identical in personnel and we just played a little bit better on the defensive end and that is where the game was won. We were playing with confidence today. We were just running our stuff. They were making some unforced turnovers and that is what helped us. The unforced turnovers is what really hurt them, more so than forced turnovers.
JUNIOR GUARD TAKIA STARKS
On what she did tonight: Texas played me a little differently today. When I got open or I had a crease, I was happy to take what I had to take. I have to credit my teammates with their screens. When they went back to the zone, coach just told me to fill in the gaps and just be ready to shoot.
SENIOR GUARD A'QUONESIA FRANKLIN
On Texas A&M's winning streak: We just talked about getting back to what we did last year and what created points for us, and that was our defense. Last year, most of our points came off of our defense. That is what we have been talking about the past few games, is stepping up our defensive intensity and pressuring the ball.