8:00 PM ET, December 1, 2006
HOUSTON (AP) -- Texas A&M's first stay in the Top 10 might be rather short.The No. 10 Aggies, who climbed to their highest ranking in school history just this week, missed a chance to match their best start in 30 years Friday night with a 79-66 loss to Rice.Lauren Neaves had 20 points and 20 rebounds and Valeriy Berezhynska scored 21 points for the Owls (5-2), who shot a season-best 58.5 percent from the field en route to their first victory over a Top 10 team since they beat then-No. 6 Louisiana Tech in February 2002."I am very happy for our team," Rice coach Greg Williams said. "It is a big win for our program, and I am very happy for our players. This was a game that meant a lot, because you don't get a lot of chances to play a Top 10 team."A'Quonesia Franklin had 16 points for the Aggies (6-1), who are likely to fall in the rankings after missing a chance to go 7-0 for the first time since 1977-78."It's not about being quick, it's about playing good basketball," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "We just got schooled on the fundamentals."Patrice Reado added 12 points for Texas A&M, which shot 36 percent from the field.The Owls held the Aggies scoreless for nearly 4 minutes to start the second half and took their largest lead of the game, 50-33, on a basket by Emery Carter.A turnaround jump shot in the key by Berezhynska gave Rice a 63-49 lead with 9:01 to go, and the Owls slowly pulled away for there.After starting in the first five games, Berezhynska said she felt she contributed more despite not being in the starting lineup for the second straight game."Me coming off the bench kind of helped me to see from the side what's going on and how I could contribute and step up more for me to make an impact," said Berezhynska, who was 9-of-11 from the field.Morenike Atunrase, Texas A&M's leading scorer, was held to 10 points, all coming in the first half.Rice outrebounded the Aggies 44-26 and forced Texas A&M into 12 turnovers."I told the players, forget about the Top 10 ranking," Blair said. "We are a Top 25 team and it was great to be up there. I'd like to be one again this season and it will take a lot better coaching and better execution."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press