Texas A & M, Notre Dame reel off upsets

By Etheria Modacure

INDIANAPOLIS-Stanford University and the University of Connecticut entered the 2011 NCAA Women’s tournament as favorites to meet in the final game at the Conseco Fieldhouse on April 5. It would’ve been a rematch of last year’s championship game.

Apparently Texas A & M University and Notre Dame University failed to retrieve the memo. Both Stanford and Connecticut were trounced in the national semifinals on April 3 and for the first time since 2008, a new national champion will be crowned

Texas A &M defeated the No.1 seed in the Spokane region, Stanford 63-62 and Notre Dame defeated the No. 1 seed in the Philadelphia region, Connecticut Huskies 72-63.

“You saw two very good ball clubs out there; play with their heart,” said Texas A & M Aggies head coach Gary Blair. “You saw two All-Americans in Nneka (Ogwumike)and Danielle (Adams) play as hard as they possibly could.”

For the Aggies game against the Stanford Cardinal, the contest came down to the final minute of the contest. Texas A & M was able to withstand a 10-point deficit with 6:01 remaining to defeat a team with championship aspirations.

Ogwumike gave the Aggies trouble scoring 31 points and nabbing seven rebounds. She was able to play solid defense on Texas A & M’s forward Adams but it wasn’t enough for Stanford.

When it appeared that the Stanford Cardinal would move on to the championship game in the latter half of the second period, three guards for the Aggies made sure to spoil those plans.

The Aggies were led in the final 5 minutes of the game by, Sydney Colson, Sydney Carter, and Tyra White.

Trailing 54-44, Adams began the Aggies’ comeback with two free throws after Stanford’s Kayla Pedersen fouled her.

Texas A & M was able to take the lead with :53 remaining after Stanford’s Melanie Murphy fouled Colson and she hit two free-throws. With :03 remaining, White hit the go-ahead layup which vaulted the Aggies to the national championship game.

The layup was set-up by an assist from Colson as she ran through Stanford’s defense to find White waiting on the baseline.

“I just saw her take off and I said ‘I have to catch up really fast,’”White Said. “Then I started sprinting, I figured she was going to pass me the ball. When she passed it to me, I just heard Coach Blair’s voice in my head saying pin the ball. So that’s what I did.”

The Aggies reached the championship game by defeating two No. 1 seeds in their last contest, Baylor University and Stanford. Their opponent on April 5, accomplished the same accolade after its semifinal game on April 3.

The two-time national champions of Women’s college basketball, Connecticut matched up against a Big East conference foe in the second semifinal game on April 3, Notre Dame.

For Notre Dame, defeating the Connecticut Huskies, has been an obstacle for the team. After losing three contests this season in the Big East Conference, the Fighting Irish were able shoot over 50 percent against the team that hasn’t allowed that since 2004.

“I think this is my week for exorcising demons and getting over the hump of some of the best programs in the game,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw. “This is an incredible victory for our team and our program to a beat a quality team with a great player like Maya Moore.”

Even though Moore finished with a semifinal-record of 36 points, her teammates couldn’t give her much help as the Huskies began the second-half in foul trouble. They had 15 fouls after halftime.

Fighting Irish guard Skylar Diggins was able to match Moore in scoring with 28 points and six assists. Guard, Natalie Novosel had 22 points and 18 of those points were scored in the second half.

“This team has grown up since the end of the season, and I think against the University of Tennessee we really put together a 40-minute game,” Novosel said. “Against UConn we hadn’t done that and tonight was the night we played hard for 40 minutes. We were focused and composed.”

The Fighting Irish will play an Aggies team that mimics them well according to McGraw. She said sometimes its best to be careful of selecting who you want to play when studying film.

“In some ways we’re mirror images of each other because you’ve got great guard play and pretty good defense,” McGraw said. “It’s something that I haven’t actually spent a lot of time thinking about, and when I was watching them throughout the tournament, I thought they’d be a really tough team to play. Be careful what you wish for, I guess. Now we got ‘em.”