By DOUG FEINBERG (AP Basketball Writer)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – This NCAA women’s tournament had plenty of twists, turns and upsets even before the championship game. Coach Gary Blair and Texas A&M delivered a thrilling ending.
Danielle Adams scored 22 of her 30 points in a dominating second half on April 5 to help the Aggies beat Notre Dame 76-70 and bring the women’s title back to College Station and the former all-male military academy.
Tyra White added 18 points for A&M, including a huge 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer sounded to put the Aggies up 73-68 with 1:07 left.
Adams and her teammates then staved off a final, frantic push by the Irish and their sensational young point guard, Skylar Diggins.
Both teams reached the championship by knocking off two No. 1 seeds. It wound up being the first title game without a No. 1 seed since 1994 and only the second overall. It also was the first final without either Connecticut or Tennessee in the year’s since Maryland beat Duke in overtime for the 2006 championship.
And it turned out to be a good one.
After a back-and-forth first half, and with the Aggies trailing 48-43 early in the second half, Adams simply took over, urged on by her coach to “quit shooting the jump shot.”
The 6-foot-1 center scored 10 of the next 13 points for the Aggies to give them a 56-53 lead midway through the second half. Texas A&M then extended the advantage to 64-57 behind the two Sydneys: Carter and Colson.
Notre Dame wouldn’t give up though, battling back behind Diggins and Devereaux Peters. The Irish scored nine of the next 11 points to tie the game at 66 on Diggins’ jumper with 3:56 left.
Blair went right to Adams on the next two possessions and she delivered, hitting back-to-back layups and wearing out the Irish by hitting her first eight shots of the half and finishing 9 of 11.
Peters’ putback cut it to 70-68, but White hit her big 3. Diggins then had two free throws with 40.7 seconds left, and McGraw called her final timeout only to see her young star turn it over in front of the bench. White hit two free throws to seal the win.
Diggins finished with 23 points and Peters added 21 and 11 rebounds for Notre Dame (31-8).