10:00 PM ET, December 6, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) -- The Washington Huskies didn't blow a big lead this time, although Texas A&M (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) made things eerily close again.Cameo Hicks scored 16 points and Andrea Plouffe added 13 to help the Huskies hold off the Aggies on Wednesday night. 65-59."We had to step up," junior point guard Emily Florence said. "Because we didn't against Kent State -- and that's where we lost it. And Ohio State, we gave up another lead. We weren't going to let it happen again -- especially on our home court."The Huskies (4-4) led by 14 points in the first half and were ahead the entire second half although Texas A&M cut their lead to two on four occasions.The Huskies returned to Seattle after a disappointing road trip that saw them blow leads to No. 5 Ohio State and Kent State. Washington led by 18 at halftime at Kent State and were ahead by 11 in the second half at Ohio State.The Huskies improved to 3-0 at home this season. When they won 19 games and made the NCAA tournament last season, they were 12-2 at Bank of America Arena."We just feel like this is our home," said Washington coach June Daugherty after her 300th coaching victory, including 177 in 11 seasons in Seattle. She previously coached seven seasons at Boise State. "We are Washington and we want to go out and establish ourselves."Sophomore Danielle Gant led the Aggies (6-2) with a career-high 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting, with 13 rebounds."We thought we could come in and win because we're very athletic," said Gant, who made her second start of the season. Gant came off the Texas A&M bench as a freshman.After a five-footer by Gant with 1:44 cut Washington's lead to 59-55, Hicks scored on a putback to give the Huskies a 61-55 lead with 1:24 left.The Huskies outscored the Aggies 22-4 at the free-throw line. Texas A&M made only 4 of 14 free throws.Takia Starks added 17 points for the Aggies, while Cheri Craddock had 11 points off the bench for the Huskies, including two 3-pointers.After Texas A&M got within 53-51 on Gant's 10-footer with 4:52 to go, Craddock made her second 3-pointer and Florence added two free throws to put Washington ahead 58-51 with 4:16 on the clock.Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said Craddock's second-half 3-pointer did his team in."We were fighting and scratching then," he said. "That was just the backbreaker right there."Washington outrebounded the Aggies 37-32, with Hicks leading the way with six.Trailing 7-5, the Huskies went on a 17-2 run with Hicks scoring six points and Plouffe adding four. Washington led 33-23 at halftime.Florence's layup gave Washington its biggest lead of the first half, 33-19 with 3:54 left.Plouffe, Washington's 6-foot-2 center, didn't start, but returned to the lineup after missing two games because of tendinitis in her knees. She sank nine of 10 free throws.The Aggies played without their leading scorer, guard Morenike Atunrase, who broke a foot in a loss to Rice on Friday. She is out 4-6 weeks.Blair said he hopes to have Atunrase back on Jan. 6 at Kansas State in Texas A&M's Big 12 opener."My fingers are crossed," he said. "The kid is obviously our best player."
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