Kristi Bellock tied a career high with 18 points and No. 3 Texas A&M routed Wichita State 71-45 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
Playing in front of a hometown crowd, the Aggies used a big run at the end of the first half to erase a one-point deficit and take a 13-point lead into halftime. A 12-2 spurt early in the second half extended the lead to 52-29, and Texas A&M cruised to the victory.
Texas A&M (25-9), which won the national championship in 2011, is in the tournament for the eighth consecutive season. It was the first trip for Wichita State (24-10).
Michelle Price scored 12 points for Wichita State.
Bellock also had six rebounds, two assists and two blocks for A&M, and freshman Courtney Williams added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. Adrienne Pratcher helped out with seven assists, seven rebounds and six points.
Leading scorer Kelsey Bone had all 10 of her points in the second half after getting into foul trouble before the break. She came in averaging 16.9 points a game.
The Aggies helped themselves by making their first 15 attempts from the line. Pratcher had the first miss with about 3 1/2 remaining, so they had to settle for making 16 of 18 foul shots for the game.
Texas A&M, which has three players 6-foot-4 or taller, also took advantage of their height advantage to out-rebound Wichita State 41-25.
A&M led by 13 with about 17 minutes remaining before Bone scored six points in the 12-2 run that put the game out of reach. The Shockers' offense went cold in that decisive stretch and they couldn't hit much of anything, including missing two layups.
Wichita State looked right at home early on, taking a 20-19 lead on Chynna Turner's layup with 7:45 left in the first half. Williams kept the Aggies afloat with nine of their first 19 points.
Texas A&M eventually got going, with Bellock scoring six points in a 16-2 run that made it 35-22 at halftime. The Shockers missed 10 shots and had three turnovers in that span, and didn't score for the last 4 1/2 minutes of the half.
Foul trouble hampered the Aggies for much of the opening 20 minutes. Bone was whistled for her second midway through the half and stayed on the bench until halftime. Karla Gilbert replaced her, but was soon sitting next to Bone on the sideline when she got her second foul with 4:22 left.
The loss ends the most successful season in school history for the Shockers, who set records for wins (24) and Missouri Valley Conference wins (15). The Missouri Valley Conference hasn't won a game in the women's tournament since 2002.
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