March 24, 2009

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Texas A&M stole its way into the NCAA's third round.

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 Tuesday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

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.

Ashley Ellis-Milan scored 15 points to lead the Gophers (20-11), 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, forcing five turnovers during that scoring spree. Tanisha Smith capped that run with a fastbreak layup after she stole the ball from Katie Ohm to give the Aggies a 57-29 lead.

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.

Minnesota, which hit 11 of its first 13 shots in beating Notre Dame in the first round, got off to a slower start Tuesday night. The Gophers made just 3-of-8 shots, but the turnovers were the problem from the start. During one stretch the Gophers had six turnovers on seven possessions.

The Aggies turned their stingy defense into a potent offense, making 10 of their first 13 shots. They opened a 21-9 lead when Sydney Carter, who had four steals, scored on a fastbreak after she stole the ball from Minnesota's Brianna Mastey.

The Aggies had their own trouble keeping control of the ball, turning the ball over five times in six minutes, cutting the lead to 21-18 on a three-point play by Ashley Ellis-Milan. But the Aggies closed the half on an 18-6 run to lead 39-24 at halftime and finished the game with 17 turnovers.

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.