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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’s basketball team still alive in postseason

Today, the Texas A&M women’s basketball team will look to return to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season in South Bend, Ind. In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, No. 10-seeded Minnesota will be the Aggies next opponent.
To advance, A&M must continue its tight defensive play that led to a dominating 80-45 victory against Evansville in the first round. Using pressure defense, the Aggies forced the Purple Aces to 30 turnovers. A&M will look to exploit Minnesota’s ball control problems after the Golden Gophers had 18 turnovers in their first round win.
“We’re going to pressure them on defense and force turnovers,” said Aggie sophomore Sydney Colson. “Like Notre Dame did against them. We just want to be really aggressive and get back to playing the way we play.”
Directing the A&M offensive is the trio of seniors Danielle Gant and Takia Starks and junior Tanisha Smith. All three players are averaging more than 10 points per game and lead the team in minutes played.
Smith said she is confident going into the second round challenge after scoring a career-high 20 points in her first NCAA Tournament game Sunday.
“We might be challenged in some areas,” Smith said. “But I know we can get the job done. Playing in the NCAA Tournament is very special and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We just want to continue to be successful and keep this going.”
Gant is 12 rebounds away from becoming A&M’s new all-time leading rebounder. The forward sits at third on the list with 909 career rebounds.
The Aggies’ second round opponent will be the Minnesota Golden Gophers (20-11) who are coming off a 79-71 upset against Notre Dame on the Irish’s home floor.
Minnesota features its own arsenal of three outstanding players. Senior Emily Fox is the team’s leading-scorer and is coming off a 23-point performance against Notre Dame in the first round.
“They’re really aggressive,” Colson said. “The girls are always moving to get the ball and are constantly in motion. I think it’s going to be a battle all the way through.”
Junior forward Ashley Ellis-Milan will be a challenge for A&M on the inside. She averages 11.8 points per game and leads the team in rebounds, averaging 7.3 per game.
“It will be a tough and physical matchup for us,” Starks said. “They are taller and stronger. We have to use our quickness on offense and defense. We need to get on the boards and help each other out in the paint.”
Rounding out the Golden Gopher’s attack is junior Katie Ohm, who is averaging 9.1 points per game. Ohm was 5-for-9 from behind the 3-point line and scored 15 points in Minnesota’s first game of the tournament.
The key to the second round matchup could be rebounding. Minnesota dominated Notre Dame on the boards Sunday, out-rebounding the Irish 45-29. Junior Zoe Harper recorded a career-high 13 rebounds coming in off the bench.
“That’s what scares me so much about Minnesota is they rebound the ball so well,” Blair said. “They bring in a couple of kids off the bench that are better rebounders than anything they do and they accept that role.”

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