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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

Women advance to second round

Senior Takia Starks became Texas A&M’s all-time leading scorer Sunday in an 80-45 rout of Evansville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Battling a stomach illness, Starks scored 19 points against the Purple Aces to surpass former record holder Lisa Branch and increase her career total to 1,942 points.
“Takia is special,” said A&M Head Coach Gary Blair. “Lisa Branch was excellent, but Starks has had to do it with a better supporting cast so she’s had to share the ball a lot. Those are just two great ones that we hope to see in the hall of fame someday.”
No. 15-seeded Evansville was outmatched by A&M’s three-pronged offensive attack. Along with Starks, junior Tanisha Smith scored a career-high 20 points and senior Danielle Gant led the team with 21.
“We put our three amigos together and they’re very patient,” Blair said. “I’m just proud of this threesome.”
A&M shot 47.1 percent from the field and held Evansville to 32.7 percent. The Aggies were near perfect from the free throw line, making 16 of 17.
Smith’s performance showcased her athleticism and all-around game. The guard spread the ball around, picking up four assists. Smith then turned around defensively and led A&M in blocks and steals with two and four, respectively.
Gant was dominant on offense, going 10-for-12 from the field. She also led the Aggies in rebounds with six.
“She’s a very unselfish player and she still found her shots,” Blair said. “She still found her shots either in transition, or offensive boards, or getting to the line. She’s just a hard-working, 5-foot-10-inch player who’s one of the best in the country.”
The mismatch became apparent when the Aggies jumped out to a 20-5 lead early in the first half. A&M’s pressure defense forced Evansville into 29 turnovers that led to 43 Aggie points.
“That was the difference in the game, their tremendous defensive pressure,” said Evansville Head Coach Misty Murphy. “We were overmatched in just about every category. They dictated what we did out there.”
The Aggies held Purple Aces’ senior guard Ashley Austin, most valuable player of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, to 10 points and three field goals.
Coming out of halftime with an 11-point lead, A&M kept firing with a 15-2 run. The Aggies outscored the Aces 45-21 in the second half and held them to 25 percent shooting.
A&M avoided playing an essential road game against Notre Dame in the second round after the Irish lost to No.10-seeded Minnesota. The Aggies will play the Golden Gophers to advance to the Sweet 16.
“They’re every bit as physical as we are,” Blair said. “Big Ten basketball is about physical kids. There’s going to be bodies flying tomorrow. Hopefully the refs will let both teams play because I think that is the type of game you’re going to see.”
Next upThe Aggies will face No. 10 seeded Minnesota at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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