The No. 2 seed and 9th-ranked Texas A&M women's basketball team were upset by No. 6 seed and 19th-ranked Arizona State, 84-69, in the NCAA regional semifinals on Sunday afternoon in Trenton, N.J., dashing Aggie hopes of an Elite Eight berth.
What was expected to be a defensive battle turned into a shootout, and Arizona State had the hotter hand, shooting a season-high 62 percent for the game.
The Sun Devils consistently broke Texas A&M's pressing defense like no one else this season in posting an 84-69 victory to earn their second regional final in school history.
All-Pac-10 and two-time Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year senior point guard Briann January led the Sun Devils with 22 points and 5 assists..
Nine players scored for Arizona State, with the Sun Devils shuttling in and out of the lineup.
The Aggies had given up only 87 points in their first two tournament games, but just couldn;t stop the Sun Devil onslaught.
Tanisha Smith had 19 points and Takia Starks added 18 for the second-seeded Aggies (27-8), who were looking to advance to the regional final for the second straight year. Danielle Gant added 13 points for Texas A&M, which shot 48 percent from the field.
It was a track meet in the first half as both teams combined to hit 17 of 25 heading into the first television time out.
The Aggies and Sun Devils were tied at 23 midway through the first half.
The Sun Devils took a 42-37 halftime lead, hitting 16 of 24 shots from the field, 67 percent, with floor general January leading the way with 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting.
A&M stayed close by hitting 16 of 29 shots, or 55 percent.
The Aggies pulled back to within one, 42-41, in the first two minutes of the second half, but that is as close as the Aggies would come.
The Aggies were still within three, 64-61, with 8:27 left in the game.
But the Sun Devils outscored the Aggies 20 to 8 down the stretch to pull away with 84-69 win.
Arizona State continued to shoot well in the second half, almost 58 percent from the field, while the Aggies shot just 42 percent in the second half.
In addition to shooting, two keys for Arizona State were rebounding and free throws. Arizona State outrebounded the Aggies 27-17 and the Sun Devils made 18 of 21 free throws, compared to just 10 free throws for the Aggies.
Arizona State (26-8) will face top-seeded Connecticut (36-0) on Tuesday night for a trip to the Final Four in St. Louis. The Huskies rallied from an eight-point first-half deficit to beat California 77-53, advancing to their 14th regional final in 16 years.
Texas A&M head coach gary Blair was full of praise for Arizona State after the game.
"They were the better basketball team today," Blair said after Arizona State (26-8) scorched his defensive-minded team for the most points in almost three years. "If they can play at that level, they can give Connecticut a good run, and Connecticut is one of the greatest teams I have ever seen."
This Aggie team has plenty to be proud of.
The senior class of Takia Starks, Danielle Gant and center La Toya Micheaux reached the tournament all four years, last year losing to eventual champion Tennessee in the regional final.
Starks was disappointed but positive after the game.
"This year we fell kind of short of last year," Starks said. "That's OK. They'll be back next year. We had a great run, a great four years. I've loved the atmosphere. Today, we just dropped one."
Thanks ladies for a great season !