Texas A&M survives close call
Aggies' Adams scores 31 points and game-winning free throws
The Associated Press
NORMAN, Okla. -- These days, Texas A&M has the dominant post player when the Aggies play Oklahoma. Indeed, Danielle Adams made the difference against the Sooners.
Adams scored 31 points, including the decisive free throws with 7.6 seconds left, and No. 6 Texas A&M won its 12th consecutive game by beating No. 13 Oklahoma 80-78 on Wednesday night to move into sole possession of first place in the Big 12.
It was the second road win in a row over a ranked foe for Texas A&M (18-1, 6-0), which won for the first time at Iowa State on Saturday. The Aggies won't have long to savor either win, though, as they're set to host No. 1 Baylor on Sunday in yet another conference showdown.
A&M coach Gary Blair compared Adams' presence for the Aggies to that of former Oklahoma center Courtney Paris, a four-time All-American.
"We're just very lucky to have (Adams),'' Blair said. "You all had Courtney Paris for four (years). I only get (Adams) for two. She's not coming out unless she has to come out.''
Danielle Robinson led Oklahoma (15-4, 5-1) with 33 points and almost single-handedly fueled a comeback from a 17-point first-half deficit. But Robinson, an 87 percent free throw shooter, missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with 30.6 seconds left and her driving shot over Adams as time expired wasn't close.
"This is a reflection of how tough this conference is,'' Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "What other conference has games that go like this? It was just an exchange of blows back and forth and it was high-caliber basketball. I watch other leagues and I'm amazed at how tough ours is every single night.
"That being said, they're - I don't know, what are they? Third? Fifth? Fourth? ... We're not far away. We're not far away.''
Texas A&M has won five of its last six games against Oklahoma, although the Aggies are only 3-16 all-time against the Sooners in Norman. Before Wednesday, the Aggies hadn't won at Lloyd Noble Center since 2007.
But the formula that has worked so well for the Aggies all season - use a pressing, trapping defense to cause mistakes by the opponent - again proved effective against Oklahoma in a rematch of last season's conference tournament title game, won by Texas A&M.
Adams, the conference's leading scorer, scored from all angles - layups, bank shots, medium-range jumpers and 3-pointers. But it was her poise at the line that proved decisive in the final seconds.
"This kid here,'' Blair said, motioning toward Adams, "everybody tries to stop her. Inside, on double and triple (teams), then she goes outside and hits the jumper. You have to understand how tiring that is. ... She is going to miss some, but she never misses bad.''
With the score tied 78-all in the final minute, Oklahoma missed three chances to take the lead, as Robinson missed two driving layups, hitting nothing on the second try. But the Sooners got the basketball back both times before Adams fouled Robinson 25 feet from the basket.
After Robinson missed, Adaora Elonu missed on a driving layup attempt, but Adams rebounded and was fouled by Lyndsey Cloman, setting up the winning free throws.
"I just took my time, zoned out everything, took a deep breath and hit both free throws,'' Adams said.
Coale declined to comment on Robinson's last shot, on which it appeared there was contact by Adams. Robinson appeared upbeat after the game despite her last-minute misfires.
"I want the ball in my hands,'' Robinson said. "I know my teammates trust me enough to give it to me at the end of the game and they trust that I'm going to make the free throws. That's what it came down to.''
Three Oklahoma starters - Carlee Roethlisberger, Robinson and Joanna McFarland - picked up two fouls each in the first eight minutes. Still, the Sooners led 21-18 before Adams fueled a 21-3 run, scoring 13 points in 4 1/2 minutes. Texas A&M led 46-29 with 2:52 left in the half.
Coale reinserted all three players to try and stem the tide, but Roethlisberger and McFarland both picked up their third fouls in vain attempts to slow the Aggies' potent inside game.
The Sooners opened the second half on a 9-0 run and pulled to 47-43, but Aaryn Ellenberg missed 3-point shots on three consecutive possessions while the Aggies countered with baskets by Maryann Baker and Adams, starting a 7-0 spurt that ended the rally.
But behind Robinson, the Sooners kept coming. She assisted on a 3-pointer by Roethlisberger that tied the game at 65 with 7:30 left. A 3-pointer by Whitney Hand, who had 17 points, put Oklahoma ahead 71-69 with 5:24 left.
Oklahoma finished 8 of 18 from 3-point range.
Tyra White added 14 points and Sydney Carter had 12 for the Aggies.