9:30 PM ET, December 19, 2009
LAS VEGAS -- Nine months ago, Arizona State ended Texas A&M's season and the Aggies hadn't forgotten.Tyra White scored a career-high 18 points and Tanisha Smith also had 18 to help Texas A&M (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) beat Arizona State (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) 72-62 on Saturday night in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic."It definitely was payback," White said. "We had it in the back of our mind."The game was a rematch of last season's NCAA tournament regional semifinal, when the Sun Devils beat the Aggies 84-69 and shot a season-best 62 percent in what was supposed to be a low-scoring game between two very good defensive teams."This was more the game that everyone was expecting last year," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "It was a great game for the fans who like defensive battles."Right from the start the game had a late-season intensity to it as opposed to a mid-December matchup. Nearly every shot was contested and bodies were flying all over after loose balls."These are two of the best teams in the country as far as taking away what you want to do offensively," Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "They just were a little better. It was a one-possession game with 3 minutes to go."Texas A&M (8-1), which was coming off its first loss of the season to TCU on Dec. 12, forced Arizona State into 27 turnovers.Danielle Orsillo scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half to lead the Sun Devils (7-2)."We knew they were going to come out hard. This was what we thought it was going to be like last year," Orsillo said. It was dirty, ugly, it was physical." Orsillo said. "We got away from playing Sun Devil basketball, but with a young team it will help us down the road."With the game tied at 57 with 4:12 left, Texas A&M scored the next eight points. Smith got it started with a jumper and then Sydney Carter hit two free throws and a jumper to make it 63-57."I think she's the best six-man in the league," Blair said of Carter.Smith's layup with 2:03 left capped the spurt and put the game away -- the Sun Devils got no closer.Trailing by seven at halftime, Arizona State rallied to tie it at 38. The Sun Devils took their first lead since early on when Tenaya Watson hit two free throws with 10:59 left.The teams traded leads over the next 6½ minutes with neither able to muster more than a three-point advantage. Watson's free throws tied it at 57.In the first half, Texas A&M forced Arizona State into mistake after mistake, as the Sun Devils committed 15 turnovers. They also went just more than eight minutes without a basket, but the Aggies were unable to pull away as Arizona State went 13 for 14 from the free throw line before the break.Becca Tobin's layup with 10:09 left in the first half cut the Sun Devils' deficit to 14-12 before Arizona State went into its offensive drought. The Aggies couldn't take advantage, though, as the Sun Devils tightened their defense. By the time Kimberly Brandon hit a layup with 2 minutes left in the half, Texas A&M only led 24-19.The Aggies went into the break up 30-23.The game was played in a casino arena that is used mostly for rodeos. The father of Arizona State guard Haley Parsons competed in the arena earlier this year in the rodeo.Texas A&M will play Gonzaga, and Arizona State will meet Baylor on Sunday to finish the tournament.
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