Aggie women move on

3-17-07 -- Texas A&M avoided another first-round upset to an intrastate opponent.

Sophomore Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) scored 20 of her 24 points in the second half and grabbed 14 rebounds to help the fourth-seeded Aggies beat 13th-seeded Texas-Arlington, 58-50, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday. Last year, the sixth-seeded Aggies lost to 11th-seeded TCU in the tournament’s first round.

Gant went 8-for-10 from the field and 8-for-11 from the line and her 24 points matched a career high. It was also the most points scored by an A&M player in an NCAA Tournament game in school history.

Texas A&M trailed for most of the first half and was down by two at halftime, but Gant scored the first eight points of the second half to put A&M up 32-26, a lead the Aggies (25-6) wouldn’t give up. Gant scored her team’s first 13 points of the second half.

Terra Wallace had 18 points and Ashley Bobb had 10 points and 15 rebounds for the Mavericks (24-9), who had a 19-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time since December.

Sophomore Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) added 10 points for Texas A&M and made a jumper with 2:09 that gave the Aggies a double-digit lead, 53-43.

The two Texas schools, which hadn’t met since 2002, are just a three-hour drive apart and are in the tournament’s Dallas Regional, but played 1,400 miles away at USC’s Galen Center.

Arlington was just 14-for-66 (21.2 percent). Texas A&M went 22-for-46 for 47.8 percent. The Mavericks outrebounded the Aggies, 45-32.

After Gant’s surge to open the second half, Texas-Arlington went on an 8-0 run and held A&M without a field goal for more than 4 minutes to retake the lead, but the Aggies answered with a 7-0 run that included five points from Gant to go up 39-34 with 11:56 to play.

UTA would pull within one after a three-point play from Wallace and a free throw from Tiffany Riles, but would get no closer.

The Aggies made their first four field goals of the game and blocked two shots in the opening minutes and the Mavericks looked undersized and overmatched, but UTA stuck with A&M, taking the lead 16-14 after a Maryann Abanobi layup with an assist from Wallace.

The Mavericks later had a pair of offensive rebounds that led to a reverse layup from Wallace and their biggest lead 23-18, with 4:40 to play in the half.

Junior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) made a jumper with four seconds left to pull the Aggies within two at halftime.

A&M advances to second-round action against George Washington (27-3) on Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. (CT) on ESPN2. The Colonials beat Boise State (24-9) in the second game of day, 76-67, to past the first round.