7:00 PM ET, March 15, 2008
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Andrea Riley launched the shot just in front of her bench, falling near the feet of coach Kurt Budke and his seemingly glowing orange blazer as the ball ripped through the net to cut the lead to one.Next time down the floor, from nearly the exact same spot, Riley launched another 3-pointer, one that would have tied the game.It got stuck between the backboard and the rim.Texas A&M survived a late scare from Riley and used its depth to outlast Oklahoma State (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) 64-59 Saturday night, giving the Aggies (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) their first Big 12 tournament championship.Texas A&M (26-7) controlled most of the game, using its superior depth and big shots from A'Quonesia Franklin and Morenike Atunrase to keep Oklahoma State at arm's length. That changed in the closing minutes, when Riley led an Oklahoma State charge.The All-Big 12 guard scored 10 points to give Oklahoma State its first lead of the second half at 54-53 with just over 3 minutes left, then followed Danielle Gant's three-point play and breakaway layup with her improbable 3-pointer."Mighty Mouse nailed that 3 in front of Coach Budke and he just willed that thing in," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "That was one of the most incredible shots."After two free throws by Franklin with 22 seconds left, Riley got another chance. She had already beaten Texas A&M once this season with a last-second 3-pointer, but this time she missed and the cheerleaders had to come out and unstick the ball from the rim."Riley's hit a couple of those against us, so I wouldn't be surprised if that second one would have went in," said Franklin, who followed Riley's shot with two free throws. "But I'm glad it didn't."Riley's heroics gave Oklahoma State (25-7) a chance it probably shouldn't have had. The Cowgirls played well at times, but shot poorly from the perimeter -- 3-for-14 from 3-point range -- and just didn't have the depth to keep up with Texas A&M.While the Aggies had four players score in double figures, Oklahoma State had three account for 57 of its 59 points. Riley finished with 28 points, Danielle Green had 17 and Shaunte Smith added 12. The only other player to score was Kristin Hernandez, and she had two."I was very proud of those three, I thought those three delivered, but we needed one more to win a championship," Budke said.Franklin led Texas A&M with 19 points and Atunrase had 14 on 4-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Gant had 11 points and leading scorer Takia Sparks finished with 10 despite a 4-for-15 night from the floor.The women's Big 12 tournament is usually a showcase for powerful Oklahoma and Baylor teams, which had combined to win the past four championships -- three by the Sooners.This year was different.Missouri knocked off Oklahoma in the opening round on Wednesday and Baylor was gone a day later, losing by 16 to Texas in the quarterfinals, meaning the title game would be without either team for the first time since 2003.Despite having good regular seasons, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State still seemed unlikely candidates to take their places.The Aggies were 2-14 in the Big 12 just four years ago and hadn't won a conference title since upsetting Texas Tech in the 1996 Southwest Conference championship game.Oklahoma State is two years removed from an 0-16 Big 12 season and had lost five straight in the Big 12 tournament. Neither team had reached the Big 12 championship game."The two bottom teams in our conference have gone to the top, at least for today," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "This is what parity is all about, and this is what hard work, coaching and good recruiting will do for you."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||24-64 (.375)||21-49 (.429)|
|3P Made-Attempted||9-21 (.429)||3-14 (.214)|
|FT Made-Attempted||7-10 (.700)||14-20 (.700)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||21 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|