by Ray Floriani
LYNDHURST, NJ - The two teams lining up on Tuesday night in Indianapolis were not supposed to survive their respective regional. No apologies needed as Texas A & M defeated Notre Dame 76-70 to capture their first NCAA championship in women's basketball. The pace and efficiency:
Pace was on the faster order of the day. To no surprise, it became more half court in the stretch with so much at stake. The Four Factors:
Turnover rates on the higher side but credit the respective defenses. The aggie shooting percentage largely attributed to their outstanding marksmanship from two point range. Texas A & M shot 27 of 46 (59%) from two. They were only 2 of 7 from beyond the arc but one of those was arguably the game decider. That trey came courtesy of Tyra White, came with under a minute to play , with A & M clinging to a two point lead and the shot clock about to expire.
Danielle Adams, led all scorers with 30 points. The A & M senior was especially effective in the paint. Adams shot 13 of 20 (65%) from two point range. She pulled down a team high 9 rebounds (4 of them offensive). Not all of Adams' work was restricted to the lane as she knocked down a few mid-range shots as well.
Penetration and inside play allowed Notre ame to draw fouls and get to the line. Skylar Diggins' the Irish's outstanding lead guard led ND with 23 points, shooting 8 of 9 from the charity stripe.
Devereaux Peters was also effective for Muffet McGraw's club. She scored 21 points, shot 8 of 10 from two point range and five of her game high 11 boards were on the offensive end.
Manley Game Leaders
The top five in the Manley numbers:
|D. Peters, NDU||28|
|D. Adams, A&M||28|
|T. White, A&M||24|
|S Diggins, NDU||14|
|A. Elonu, A&M||12|
|S. Colson, A&M||12|
Numbers tie breakers were done by minutes. In other words, Peters put up her efficiency total in 36 minutes (.777 eff per minute). Adams' 28 was accomplished in 39 minutes for a.718 eff. Per minute.
National championship was the first in Gary Blair's illustrious head coaching career that has spanned three decades. Blair was an assistant on the Louisiana Tech title team in the Eighties. Notre Dame captured the championship in 2001 under McGraw. At 64 he is the oldest head coach to win a Women's NCAA basketball championship. UCONN's Jim Calhoun, with his victory on Monday night over Butler, became the 'elder statesman' on the men's side with his title at age 68.
To get to Indianapolis, Notre Dame had to defeat Tennessee to win the Dayton regional. The Irish lost the twenty prior meetings with the Lady Vols. In the national semis the Irish defeated UCONN which won the three previous meetings against ND this season.
Texas A & M had to beat Baylor, whom they were 0-3 against this year, for a trip to the Final Four. Their semifinal was against highly regarded Stanford and was settled until the final seconds.
On Tuesday, Notre Dame and Texas A & M gave us a wonderful contest. Shame someone had to exit disappointed.