DALLAS — Sydney Carter had 22 points and Texas A&M finally beat Baylor – when it counted the most.
The Aggies are going to the NCAA Final Four for the first time in school history after a 58-46 victory against the top-seeded Lady Bears on Tuesday night in the Dallas Regional final.
Baylor and All-American Brittney Griner, who played in the Final Four last year in the 6-foot-8 center’s freshman season, will have to settle for the Big 12 regular season and tournament trophies the still-young Bears (34-3) already won this season.
Texas A&M (31-5) had lost eight consecutive games against its Big 12 rival, including the previous three this season.
The Aggies blew a nine-point lead midway through the second half in Waco last month. They squandered a 12-0 start in the Big 12 championship game just more than three weeks ago.
This time, coach Gary Blair’s team lead from start-to-finish after Carter had a 3-pointer, an assist and a jumper in the game’s first 2 minutes for a 7-0 lead.
“Tonight was our night, we didn’t back into it,” Blair said. “We won the game fair and square.”
Sydney Colson added 12 points for Texas A&M, including some important scores after two free throws by Griner had gotten Baylor within 48-41 with 4 1/2 minutes left.
Colson blew by Griner and missed, but was fouled and made both free throws. Right after that, Colson had a steal and took it all the way for a layup and was fouled again. With the A&M bench going wild, and the stunned Baylor players sitting and staring ahead, Colson finished the three-point play to make it 53-41.
Griner, coming off a 40-point game Sunday against Wisconsin-Green Bay after scoring 30 the game before that, had 20 points and nine rebounds. But she struggled all night shooting, making only 6 of 18 from the field, including a missed dunk attempt. After making all 10 free-throw attempts Sunday, she was 8 of 15 against the Aggies.
Melissa Jones, the only senior who played significant minutes for Baylor, scored 13 points and had seven rebounds.
Tyra White had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Aggies. Adaora Elonu had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Danielle Adams, the Aggies’ All-America post player and their leading scorer, had another subpar game against Baylor. Yet, she was still smiling when she walked off the court at halftime scoreless because Texas A&M had a 32-21 lead.
After the game, Adams was in the middle of her celebrating teammates on the floor, then cutting down the net.
Adams, the senior with her last chance to get to a Final Four, finished with six points and four rebounds. She was 3 of 12 from the field, and missed all five 3-pointers.
Adams entered the game averaging 22.7 points a game and was shooting 49 percent from the field for the season. The 6-foot-1 senior finished 15 of 62 (24 percent) against Baylor with four of her five lowest-scoring games of the season.
No worries about the Lady Bears in Indianapolis, where Baylor won its national championship six years ago.
Texas A&M plays Stanford (33-2), another top-seeded team, on Sunday in the national semifinal.