HOUSTON (AP) -- Texas A&M's first stay in the Top 10 might be
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
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
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
"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."