AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas A&M had already squandered one big lead. The Aggies didn't want to watch another one get away.
They didn't, and in the process got a third straight win over a big rival and a huge boost for a potential NCAA tournament bid.
Takia Starks scored 22 points, hitting the key baskets in a big run at the start of the second half, leading A&M (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) to a 65-50 win over rival Texas on Sunday.
Danielle Gant and A'Quonesia Franklin each added 12 points for the Aggies (20-7, 8-5 Big 12), who have won seven of their last eight and guaranteed themselves no worse than an 8-8 finish in the league, an important mark for NCAA tournament consideration.
It's a long way from their 1-4 start in the Big 12.
"We got our hat handed to us early and we went off ya'll's radar screen," A&M coach Gary Blair said. "The difference in the team has been the defensive intensity and we're not making the mistakes we had been."
The Aggies hounded Texas into 24 turnovers and just 16 field goals for the game. Longhorns point guard Carla Cortijo had nine turnovers.
"A lot of kids start the ball game thinking about how many points they're going to score," Blair said. "Our kids start out thinking how many points they can stop."
For the Longhorns, a once-promising season under first-year coach Gail Goestenkors is in a nosedive. Texas (16-11, 4-9) has lost six of its last seven and is guaranteed a third straight losing record in the Big 12.
"We're on the [NCAA tournament] bubble and we're heading in the wrong direction," said Goestenkors, whose frustration with the season bubbled to the surface when she was whistled for her first technical foul late in the game.
The Aggies started the game with an 18-4 run, hitting their first five 3-pointers. Starks hit one and tumbled into the Texas bench when she was fouled before hitting the free throw.
Texas recovered to pull within 27-24 before Franklin hit an off-balance floater in the lane at the buzzer to put A&M up by five at halftime.
The Aggies delivered the knockout punch early in the second.
Gant made the first two baskets of the half, Franklin nailed a 3-pointer and Starks made three straight jumpers in a 13-3 A&M run that made it 42-27.
Patrice Reado then hit a tough layup in the lane over 6-foot-4 center Ashley Lindsey and Gant and Starks hit consecutive shots to put the Aggies up 50-31.
"When I got open and had a crease, I had to take what I had to take," Starks said. "We're having fun."
Texas, meanwhile, kept committing turnovers with silly mistakes, dribbling off their feet and botching an inbounds play. The Longhorns had 21 turnovers with 10 minutes still left to play.
"So many times we tried to thread the needle [with passes] and it wasn't just there," Goestenkors said.
Texas made a desperate bid at a comeback from the free-throw line. The Longhorns managed only two field goals over an 8-minute stretch, but made 12 of 17 free throws to cut the lead to 58-46.
The rally finally ended when Cortijo, fouled on a 3-pointer, missed two of three free throws and Gant converted an easy layup when she was left unguarded under the basket.
"We're frustrated at this point, but it's about growing, learning and that's what we will continue to do," Goestenkors said.