March 13, 2008
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Morenike Atunrase had 19 points and five rebounds to lead No. 11 Texas A&M to a 65-53 victory over Iowa State on Thursday in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament.
Texas A&M (25-7) committed one turnover in the first half and finished with only six in advancing to the title game for the first time.
Takia Starks was 3-for-4 on 3-pointers and finished with 15 points for the Aggies, who opened the game on a 17-4 run and led 27-11 midway through the first half.
Iowa State (20-12), playing the 1,000th game of the program's history, upset top seeded Kansas STATE on Wednesday in the quarterfinals but shot only 36 percent from the field against A&M and made only 13 of 22 free throws.
Atunrase was 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-6 on free throws for the Aggies, who got 11 points from Patrice Reado and 10 points from Danielle Gant.
The crowds for each team scurried to the exits after the game to walk the few short blocks to the Sprint Center to see the Iowa State and Texas A&M men's teams play each other in the first round of the men's Big 12 tournament.
Heather Ezell, who averaged 25.5 points per game in the Cyclones' first two tournament games, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with only eight points.
The 5-9 junior hit 15 3s in the previous two games but shot only 2-for-9 from behind the 3-point line against a tough A&M defense that forced 15 turnovers.
The Cyclones, who trailed 39-25 early in the second half, used a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 39-32 on Ezell's first 3 of the game.
Moments later, Alison Lacey hit a 3 of her own to cut A&M's lead to 41-36. However, the Aggies used a 10-0 run to push extended the lead back to 15.
Lacey led Iowa State with 15 points and had six assists but also committed six turnovers. Jocelyn Anderson had 10 points and six rebounds and Amanda Nisleit added nine points and five rebounds for the Cyclones, who will wait to find out their NCAA tournament seed on Monday.
Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly was whistled for a technical foul not even 3 minutes into the game when he argued with an official over a non-foul call.
By the first media time-out, Iowa State had five turnovers and trailed 10-2. Not even 6 minutes into the game, the Cyclones trailed 17-4 and had allowed Texas A&M to hit three 3s.
Seldom used reserve guard Anna Florzak, averaging only 5.9 minutes and 1.4 points per game, played 10 minutes in the first half and hit a 3 to cut the A&M lead to 20-11 midway through the first half.
She could have cut the Aggie's lead to nine just before halftime when she was fouled shooting a 3 but missed all three free throws and Iowa State trailed 37-25 at the break.