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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Queens of the court

Major collegiate athletics needed this. It needed a team like Texas A&M — a team built on a foundation of hard work, of want-to, of relentlessness — to come out on top.
In a year mired by controversy and clouded by ethical issues, the good in sport — the teamwork, the togetherness and the selflessness — finally shone through.
In a year when Cam Newton and Jim Calhoun hoisted National Championship trophies, finally one of the good guys had the opportunity to celebrate.
Yes, for the first time in program history, A&M — by virtue of a 76-70 victory over Notre Dame — is the national champion.
Head Coach Gary Blair took over a program eight years ago that hadn’t seen a winning season in the previous seven.
Yet, from the gutters they’ve risen to become queens of the college basketball world.
Most importantly, they’ve done it the right way. There have been no under-the-table payments, no compliance investigations, no dirty recruiting.
Just basketball.
It’s a team that is the perfect representation of A&M and the values it holds dear. They endure. They fight for everything they get. Every challenge standing in the way is conquerable.
Some would call it stubbornness, but they’re just mirroring their coaches.
“Perseverance and toughness,” said A&M assistant coach Vic Schaefer. “That’s who we are.”
The NCAA Selection Committee rewards their splendid regular season by placing them in a region with Baylor — arguably the best team in the country.
And what do they do?
They don’t complain. Rather, they just go out and avenge three previous losses by shutting down all-world Brittney Griner and earning a berth to their first Final Four.
What do they do when they’re down 10 points with no semblance of momentum, with five minutes left against another No. 1 seed in the biggest game in program history?
They just erase that deficit with poised play, dauntless defense and clutch offense.
What do they do with nine seconds, down one point with no timeouts and the season on the line?
Their senior leader goes coast to coast to make the biggest play of the women’s college basketball season, sending them to the national championship game.
What do they do when given another national power with a de facto home-court advantage and a championship at stake?
They come up with an answer to every Fighting Irish run, limit the effectiveness of All-American Skylar Diggins and turn Aggieland into a women’s basketball hotbed.
Three times in three games, they were underdogs. Two times in three games, they faced seemingly insurmountable second-half deficits.
Yet still they prevailed.
“We don’t give up,” Blair said.
Eight years ago, the women’s college basketball world laughed at A&M. They saw the program as a trash heap. Blair, one of the most respected and likeable coaches in the game, saw a gold mine.
His faith in the program and belief in his players culminated in one shining moment for the world to see.
After a season overshadowed by speculation and accusations, college athletics needed something to turn out the way it should.
And 15 women, four coaches, one school delivered that something.

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