No. 13 Sooners hold off No. 8 Aggies 74-65Jan 18, 2010 - 1:47 AM By JEFF LATZKE AP Sports Writer
NORMAN, Okla.(AP) -- Preparing to face No. 8 Texas A&M and its trademark in-your-face defense, Sherri Coale had a message for her Oklahoma players.
"You have to be the aggressor with them," point guard Danielle Robinson said. "That's what she told us over and over again."
With the Aggies making a second-half charge, Coale's words clicked in Robinson's head and she took over for the 13th-ranked Sooners. She scored 24 points, including six key free throws, and Oklahoma snapped A&M's seven-game winning streak with a 74-65 victory Sunday.
The Sooners (12-4, 2-1 Big 12) blitzed A&M at the start of both halves to build a 16-point lead, then staved off a second-half rally. Once the Aggies cut their deficit to three with 6:29 to play, Robinson started attacking the rim and getting rewarded with trips to the foul line.
Her six free throws in a 2-minute stretch to push the lead back to eight, and Oklahoma was able to hang on from there.
"That was just part of the game plan," Robinson said. "The way they pressure, really the only option is to attack."
Aggies coach Gary Blair pointed out that Robinson had only been to the free-throw line a total of two times in her three previous games before going 10-for-11 against A&M.
"We tried to accommodate her by reaching and fouling, and that's her strength. Other teams have figured out how not to foul her, but we didn't figure it out tonight," Blair said.
"It isn't the officiating," he added. "It's our defense and her good offense."
Tyra White led the Aggies (14-2, 2-1) with 18 points and Sydney Colson had 14 points and five steals. Tanisha Smith, the Aggies' leading scorer, was held to eight on 4-of-13 shooting.
Smith was on the bench in foul trouble when A&M made its charge. White hit a 3-pointer to get it going and Sydney Carter's driving layup from the right side cut the deficit to 60-56 with 7:59 remaining.
Colson stripped the ball from Jasmine Hartman and rushed in for a fast-break layup to make it 63-60, but then Robinson provided Oklahoma's response to extend the edge back to 69-61 as neither team hit a field goal for more than 3 minutes.
"You're either going to get attacked or you can attack," Coale said. "It's one way or the other, so we really wanted to go at them. They got us on our heels just a little bit, around the 12-minute mark of the second half, but we came right back swinging and that was the difference."
Smith, who had been averaging 17.3 points, returned briefly but had no impact before fouling out with 4:49 to play, providing Robinson with the last in her string of free throws.
"Oklahoma was doing a great job of taking Tanisha away," Blair said. "And sometimes, Tanisha was taking herself away."
Danielle Adams finished with 12 points but went 1-for-6 from 3-point range on an off night for the nation's top 3-point shooting team. The Aggies, who had been making 42.6 percent of their 3-point tries, went just 6-for-21 (29 percent) from behind the arc.
Nyeshia Stevenson added 20 points and Amanda Thompson and Abi Olajuwon had matching double-doubles for Oklahoma, with 14 points and 11 rebounds apiece.
For the second straight year, the Sooners denied Texas A&M a chance for its first 3-0 start in Big 12 play. The Aggies were the only Big 12 team to beat Oklahoma last year, with wins in College Station and at the Big 12 tournament.
"It's the most fun we've had in a while," Robinson said. "We just showed a toughness, I definitely think, and you could tell the way everybody walked out onto the floor that if we needed a stop, we were going to get it. And if we need a rebound, we were going to get it."
After giving up an easy layup to Adoara Elonu off the opening tip, the Sooners outscored A&M 15-2 over the next 4 minutes and took a 15-4 lead on Olajuwon's left-handed hook shot from the left block. The Aggies twice got within five points before Stevenson hit a pair of 3-pointers as Oklahoma pushed its lead back to 41-27 in the closing minute of the first half.
White's 3-pointer got the Aggies within 11 at halftime but the Sooners responded to Smith's jumper at the start of the second half with seven straight points to build their lead to 48-32.
"The whole first half completely, we were in a total funk. We weren't making stuff happen," Colson said. "I think later in the second half, when we finally got things going, it was too little too late."
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