March 24, 2009

 

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -Texas A&M stole its way into the NCAA regional semifinals.

Sydney Colson had six steals to pace the Aggies to a season-high 20 and Texas A&M forced a season-high 32 turnovers in a 73-42 victory over Minnesota in the second round Tuesday night.

"We win with defense, and we'll continue to keep winning with defense," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said.

The Aggies' previous season high for turnovers forced were 30 in their first-round win over Evansville.

Danielle Gant led Texas A&M (27-7) with 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting, Takia Starks added 17 and Colson had 13. Despite being outsized by Minnesota, the Aggies had a 37-28 rebounding advantage and a 17-5 edge in second-chance points.

"We came out and did everything right," Starks said. "We haven't played this well since, I really don't know, probably non-conference or Oklahoma."

While Blair talked about being concerned about Minnesota's size before the game, Gant said the Aggies weren't worried.

"We knew that we can go inside," she said. "We play with the (Oklahoma's Courtney and Ashley) Parises all the time. Going against them is hard work, so we knew that tonight we could come out and hang with them."

Ashley Ellis-Milan scored 15 points to lead the Gophers (20-12), who shot 35 percent.

Emily Fox, Minnesota's leading scorer this year at 13.2 points a game, was 0-11 from the floor, settling for a pair of free throws during a 16-2 run in the second half by the Aggies that put the game away. Texas A&M forced five turnovers during that scoring spree. Tanisha Smith capped the run with a fastbreak layup after she stole the ball from Katie Ohm to give the Aggies a 57-29 lead.

Brittany McCoy committed 10 turnovers for the Gophers. Fox, who had four turnovers, said the A&M defense was even tougher than she expected.

"Their hands were on a lot of balls," Fox said. "They were just everywhere and we didn't adjust. We didn't control the ball."

Blair said the key was how the Aggies defended Minnesota's guards.

"We were able to create a lot of turnovers," he said. "You win with guard, and those two guards are very special. We have so much respect for them. But those are the two we were trying to stop."

The Aggies scored 34 points off the turnovers and had 14 fastbreak points.

The turnovers were the most by the Gophers this season, easily surpassing the 26 they had at Iowa State. The most steals against the Gophers were 14 in that same game.

The Gophers also had a season-low one 3-pointer, with Ohm setting a Minnesota single-season record with her 74th in the game's first minute.

"We were really focused on not letting her just go out there and shoot, or not have open looks at least," Colson said.

Texas A&M advanced to the regional semifinals for second straight year for the first time in school history. The Aggies will play sixth-seeded Arizona State (25-8) in Trenton, N.J., on Sunday.