Women’s Basketball: Texas A&M 76, Notre Dame 70
By Doug Feinberg
INDIANAPOLIS ó Danielle Adams scored 22 of her 30 points in a dominating second half and Texas A&M beat Notre Dame 76-70 on Tuesday night to win its first national championship.
Texas A&M (33-5) built an early 13-point lead with its aggressive defense, fell behind by seven in the second half, then rallied by pounding the ball inside to the 6-foot-1 Adams, who bulled her way to 9-for-11 shooting in the final 20 minutes.
Tyra White added 18 points for the Aggies, including a huge 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer sounded to put A&M up 73-68 with 1:07 left.
That was enough to bring the title to a school that didnít even admit women until 1963 and deny a second championship to Notre Dame (31-8), which won 10 years ago in St. Louis.
Skylar Diggins led the Irish in this improbable title game matchup of No. 2 seeds with 23 points. Devereaux Peters had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Notre Dame, which was burned by A&Mís 68 percent (15-for-22) second-half shooting.
The game was a back-and-forth battle from the outset.
Peters scored 10 points and Notre Dame ended the half on a 23-8 run to take a 35-33 lead. Rattled early by the in-your-face defense that is A&Mís trademark, the Irish fell behind by 13 points midway through the first half, then clawed back once they started taking care of the ball.
Peters was the most effective, making her first four shots, including a nifty over-the-shoulder flip as she was going past the basket on the right side. Another Peters bucket cut the lead to 29-24 and the Irish trailed just 33-31 when Diggins hit a short jumper from the right side as the shot clock buzzer sounded.
Becca Bruszewskiís layup pulled the Irish into a tie and Diggins, held in check early, sliced through the defense for a layup with just under a minute to play to give Notre Dame its first lead. Diggins had 8 points at halftime.
ěGlad we came back,î A&M coach Gary Blair said. ěWe had a bad 10 minutes in the first half. We found a way to come back, and Danielle got the ball inside.î
A&Mís defensive pressure threw the Irish off kilter at the start. Notre Dame turned the ball over on its first two possessions and after 3 1/2 minutes, the Irish had five turnovers, had managed only one shot and the Aggies led 10-4.
Adding to Notre Dameís frustration, 5-foot-11 Natalie Novosel appeared to have an open layup, only to see 5-6 Sydney Carter block the shot, drawing a roar from the Aggiesí faithful spread throughout Conseco Fieldhouse.
Carter also took Diggins out of the offense with her harassing defense. Diggins, who scored 14 points in each half of a national semifinal victory over Connecticut, managed only two shots until poking the ball away from Carter and making a layup with 7:48 left in the half.
Digginsí basket came during a 12-4 run that got the Irish back in it after A&M had raced to a 25-12 lead.
Both teams reached the championship game by knocking off two No. 1 seeds. Notre Dame eliminated Tennessee in the regional final, then swept past Connecticut in Sunday nightís national semifinals, the first time one team has taken down those two womenís basketball icons in the same tournament.
A&M also had two impressive wins to get here, beating Baylor in the regional final before edging Stanford on Sunday night.
It was the first title game without a No. 1 seed since 1994 and only the second overall. It also was the first final without either Connecticut or Tennessee since Maryland beat Duke in overtime for the 2006 championship.
The Associated Press