Aggies' Stark hits last-second jumper to beat Cowgirls

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Texas A&M coach Gary Blair had a feeling Takia Starks was due.

The Aggies' leading scorer hit a jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining to help No. 13 Texas A&M survive another scare from Oklahoma State with a 62-60 win Saturday night.

"Big-time players make big-time shots," Blair said. "It's kind of hard to hit a shot with somebody holding your hand, but she did. She hit a tough shot."

The Cowgirls, who lost on a free throw with the same amount of time remaining in the teams' previous meeting this season, rallied from six points down in the final 3 minutes to tie the game on Maria Cordero's layup with 23 seconds left.

After a timeout, point guard A'Quonesia Franklin dribbled down most of the remaining time before the Aggies (20-5, 10-3 Big 12) had to scramble to get the ball to Starks near the foul line.

"They eliminated the first option on the play, so after that it's just creating," Blair said. "They took it away, we had to hully-gully it a little in there, but at the same time you want the right player making that shot."

An A&M spokeswoman said Starks didn't speak to reporters after the game because she was hoarse from having a cold.

The Cowgirls lost to Texas Tech last month on a shot with 1.1 seconds left, and that had coach Kurt Budke thinking about fouling if the right Aggies player touched the ball to avoid another loss at the buzzer. He decided the gamble would have been too big.

"What are the odds of that happening -- 0.3 twice? A billion to one? I don't know. Someone's going to have to do the math for me," Budke said.

After Starks jumper, Budke called a timeout to set up a play, but Starks stole a long inbounds pass near the Cowgirls' 3-point line to seal the win.

The Aggies kept pace with Oklahoma to remain tied for the Big 12 lead. Baylor, which also entered the day in a four-way tie for first, plays Texas on Sunday. Nebraska lost to fall a game behind.

"I just think every game in the Big 12 that you're going to have to step up and play. It doesn't matter who you're playing," Aggies forward Katy Pounds said. "You could be playing the last team in the league, and you're going to have to step up."

Danielle Gant, who hit the winning free throw in the Aggies' 64-63 win over Oklahoma State on Jan. 30, finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds for her sixth double-double. Starks scored 13 and Morenike Atunrase had 10 for Texas A&M.

Freshman Andrea Riley matched her career high with 21 points, Dominique Chism scored 11 and Rashidat Sadiq added 10 for Oklahoma State (17-9, 5-8).

"My biggest thing right now is I feel so bad for my girls. They are playing their tails off and they believe in what we're doing, they believe in each other. We're just getting better and better every night out," Budke said.

"To lose to a team at 0.3 again, twice, I can't even begin to explain that. But they made one more play than we made."

Even after going 0-6 against ranked foes this season, Budke said he thinks his Cowgirls are ahead of schedule after finishing 0-16 in Big 12 play last season. Despite the heartbreak, the last-second losses have shown that.

"Everything happens for a reason," Chism said. "It's just going to bring us closer together, and our next game we're going to come out and show that we're not a team that's going to sit down because we lost one game."

Gant's free throw with 5:36 remaining gave the Aggies a 49-48 lead, and she added a three-point play off an offensive rebound on A&M's next possession to stretch the lead to four.

She made it 56-50 by banking in a right-handed shot from the right side.

Oklahoma State closed to within 57-56 on Andrea Riley's two free throws with 1:36 to play, with Budke flapping both arms in the air to encourage the crowd to stand and cheer, which he also did during Atunrase's missed free throw that gave his team a chance to tie.

Riley's driving layup tied it at 58 with just over a minute to play, but Atunrase answered with a jumper in the key for the Aggies with 44.4 seconds left.

Riley set up Cordero's layup on the other end, but the Aggies had another stunner in store for the Cowgirls.

It was A&M's seventh straight win over the Cowgirls.

Oklahoma State fell to 0-6 this season against ranked foes.