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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Texas A&M; defeats Notre Dame to win women’s national championship

INDIANAPOLIS — The way people were talking about the matchup in Tuesday night’s NCAA women’s basketball final, it was as if Notre Dame and Texas A&M never had made any kind of mark in the sport.

“”New faces,”” Aggies coach Gary Blair called the teams.

In a scintillating game, which finished with Texas A&M winning its first national title, 76-70, both teams gave basketball a much more attractive face than the mess UConn and Butler smeared on the men’s final Monday night.

Big Danielle Adams, the Aggies’ 6-1 forward, scored 22 points after intermission and 30 for the game to rally her team from a seven-point deficit early in the second half.

Skylar Diggins had 23 and Devereaux Peters 21 for Notre Dame (31-8).

The clinching basket turned out to be a three-pointer by Tyra White as the shot clock showed 0.0 with 1 minute, 7 seconds to play. White sealed it with two free throws 40 seconds later.

Truth be told, both the Aggies (33-5) and the Irish need little introduction to fans of the women’s game.

Notre Dame won the championship 10 years ago, has made the Final Four three times and the tournament 16 straight years. Texas A&M has made six straight tourneys, reaching the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 in 2009, earning a No. 2 seed four straight seasons.

After sloppy ballhandling early — seven mainly unforced turnovers in the first seven minutes — eventually put Notre Dame down by 13, the Irish rallied as they committed only two more errors the rest of the half.

When the Aggies’ top guard, Sydney Colson, was forced to the bench with her second and then third fouls, Irish whippet Diggins took full advantage to bring her team back.

Devereaux Peters was a force at both ends for Notre Dame, with 10 points and a rebound in the opening half.

The Irish shot 59 percent from the floor in the first half, the Aggies 45 percent.

With Peters leading the way, Notre Dame pulled out to a 44-37 lead early in the second half, but the Aggies big forward, Danielle Adams, began to have her way in the paint. With 10 points in the first 6:30 of the second half, Adams put A&M back ahead 50-48.

This is the first time since 1994 — and just the second in 30 NCAA women’s tournaments — that there was not a No. 1 seed playing for the title.

But some would go so far as to see the absence of Tennessee (8 titles), UConn (7) and Stanford (2) from the title game as the start of a new era in a sport dominated by a handful of teams for three decades.

“”Usually, people coming out of high school, the All-Americas, they want to go to the names familiar to them, the UConns, the Tennessees, schools known for winning national championships,”” Texas A&M senior guard Sydney Colson said. “”There’s a higher chance they’ll win in their four years at the school. Maybe it’s a good thing people introduced to Notre Dame and A&M.””

And both should be major factors next year and for years to come.

The Irish lose just one player, starting forward Becca Bruszewski. While the Aggies lose three of their top six, Blair adds one of the nation’s top high school players from two years ago, South Carolina transfer Kelsey Bone, and he has signed 6-foot, 7-inch Rachel Mitchell, whom one rating service says is the No. 4 high school center in the country.

UConn, Tennessee and Stanford, which made two of the last four title games, rarely have much of a dropoff, even when a superstar like UConn’s Maya Moore moves on.

“”We would love to see some new teams come up and be the ones everybody is talking about every year,”” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said.

 

 

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