(2) Notre Dame 70

(31-8, 13-3 Big East)

(2) Texas A&M 76

(33-5, 13-3 Big 12)

    8:30 PM ET, April 5, 2011

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

    1 2 T
    #2ND 35 3570
    #2TAM 33 4376

    Top Performers

    Notre Dame: S. Diggins 23 Pts, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 Stl

    Texas A&M: D. Adams 30 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Danielle Adams scores 22 in second half to lead Aggies to first title

    Associated Press

    INDIANAPOLIS -- No one was paying too much attention last week when Texas A&M coach Gary Blair proclaimed: "We're going to win a national championship."

    Who could have known what havoc Danielle Adams would wreak? Notre Dame certainly found out.

    The senior scored 22 of her 30 points in a dominating second half and answered the Fighting Irish basket for basket Tuesday night to help the Aggies beat Notre Dame in a 76-70 thriller and bring the women's title to the former all-male military academy.

    "I had a little voice in my head, 'Don't let this team down,'" said Adams, who became the school's first All-American a week ago and added outstanding player of the tournament to her honors.

    "Every time we'd get down, we were telling each other we're not going to lose this game. We worked hard all season to prepare for this point. I had to do this for my teammates. They've been doing everything for me. I decided to take them on my back and just let them ride on my back."

    This was the supposed to be the year Maya Moore's Connecticut juggernaut won its third straight title or Stanford broke through or Tennessee got back to the top. But Texas A&M and Notre Dame got rid of them all -- plus the fourth No. 1 seed, Baylor -- to set up an unlikely final between two rugged No. 2 seeds.

    And at the end of a seesaw game that easily beat the men's final for excitement -- and points scored -- the Aggies made their coach proud. At 65, he became the oldest coach to win the women's championship just one night after UConn's 68-year-old Jim Calhoun did the same thing on the men's side.

    "We gave you that national championship game without the so-called powers of the world," Blair said. "The two powers tonight were the two that earned it."

    Tyra White added 18 points for A&M, including a huge 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer sounded to put the Aggies up 73-68 with 1:07 left.

    "That was the knife in my heart. That was the game," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said, bowing her head when the question was asked. "I thought that was just an amazing play on White's part, and that play was the game."

    Adams and her teammates then staved off a final, frantic push by the Irish and their sensational young point guard, Skylar Diggins.

    Now the Aggies (33-5) are national champs, newcomers who bullied their way through the tournament to win it all. Like Notre Dame, they vanquished their conference rival on the way, beating Baylor in the Dallas Regional final after losing to the Lady Bears three times during the season.

    Adams, who struggled badly against Baylor, was up to the task and then some against Notre Dame, scoring the second-most points in a championship game (Texas Tech's Sheryl Swoopes had 47 against Ohio State in 1993).

    Both teams reached the championship by knocking off two No. 1 seeds. Notre Dame ended an 0-20 skid against Tennessee, then swept past Connecticut in the semifinals -- the first time one team has taken down those two women's basketball icons in the same tournament. After A&M dumped Baylor, the Aggies knocked out Stanford in a bruising national semifinal.

    It wound up being the first title game without a No. 1 seed since 1994 and only the second overall. It also was the first final without either Connecticut or Tennessee since Maryland beat Duke in overtime for the 2006 championship.

    And it turned out to be a good one.

    After a back-and-forth first half, and with the Aggies trailing 48-43 early in the second half, Adams simply took over.

    The 6-foot-1 center scored 10 of the next 13 points for the Aggies to give them a 56-53 lead midway through the second half. Texas A&M then extended the advantage to 64-57 behind the two Sydneys -- Carter and Colson.

    But Notre Dame wouldn't give up, battling back behind Diggins and Devereaux Peters. The Irish scored nine of the next 11 points to tie the game at 66 on Diggins' jumper with 3:56 left.

    Blair went right to Adams on the next two possessions, and she delivered, hitting back-to-back layups and wearing out the Irish by hitting her first eight shots of the half and finishing 9-of-11.

    Peters' putback cut it to 70-68, but White hit her huge 3 -- her second game-saving shot of the tournament after her layup lifted the Aggies over Stanford on Sunday. Diggins had two free throws with 40.7 seconds left, and McGraw called her final timeout only to see her young star turn it over in front of the bench. White hit two free throws to seal the win.

    Diggins finished with 23 points, and Peters added 21 and 11 rebounds for Notre Dame (31-8). Diggins, fighting back tears, said the Irish couldn't handle A&M's pressure.

    "We turned it over too much. I don't know if it was nerves or what," she said. "We just didn't handle the pressure."

    Indeed, the night belonged to the Aggies in a game played just a few hours' drive from the Notre Dame campus in South Bend.

    The championship is the first in a major sport for Texas A&M since the football team won it all back in 1939. And it comes at a school that didn't even admit women until 1963, and where school administrators didn't always see the advantage of funding men's and women's sports equally when Title IX passed in 1972.

    By 1994, A&M had earned its first NCAA tournament bid and immediately reached the regional semifinals. Still, things slowed until Blair arrived in 2003.

    The man with the sharp tongue, quick wit and deep Southern drawl found himself at home recruiting the best players in his native Texas, and teaming up with others in the athletic department to sell the school.

    Winning the title will certainly help.

    "Me and my team couldn't let our seniors [Colson and Adams] leave without winning a national championship," White said. "We had to send them off in the right way, and, baby, we sure did."

    The Aggies rode a relentless defense that didn't allow more than 50 points in the tournament until Stanford scored 62 in the semifinals.

    The Irish were trying to become the first team to capture the title in their home state since Stanford won in Los Angeles in 1992. There definitely was a home feel for Notre Dame with two-thirds of the 17,473 people in the arena wearing green and gold, hoping for the school's first championship since 2001.

    At least Diggins will be back next season.

    "You lose that last game, you just get motivated to come back and work a little bit harder and make sure it doesn't happen again," McGraw said. "So I think it will be a really good motivator for us."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 70 76
    FG Made-Attempted 24-52 (.462) 29-53 (.547)
    3P Made-Attempted 2-10 (.200) 2-7 (.286)
    FT Made-Attempted 20-26 (.769) 16-23 (.696)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 7 13

    Game Leaders

    PointsS. Diggins 23D. Adams 30
    ReboundsD. Peters 11D. Adams 9
    AssistsS. Diggins 3S. Colson 5
    StealsS. Diggins 4S. Colson 3
    BlocksB. Bruszewski 2S. Carter 2


    » Apr 5, 2011 @TAM 76, ND 70Recap | Box Score

    Research Notes

    Notre Dame led by seven points with 16 minutes remaining in the game. The Irish built lead on the strength of its play in the interior, where they made 14-of-18 shots with eight assists on those baskets. During the final 16 minutes, Notre Dame struggled. The Irish shot 7-of-19 in the paint, including missing six straight during Texas A&M's 9-0 run from 16:00-13:39.
    Danielle Adams struggled on post-up plays against Tennessee and Baylor, where she scored a combined two points. Against Notre Dame, Adams had her way in the post, making 62.5 percent of her shots and scoring 13 points.
    Danielle Adams made her first eight shots of the second half to lead Texas A&M to the national title. Adams finished with a school tournament record 30 points, 22 of which came in the second half, where she went almost exclusively inside.
    Danielle Adams' 30 points are the 2nd most ever in the NCAA Women's Championship game. Only Sheryl Swoopes scored more (47) when she led Texas Tech to the 1993 title over Ohio State.
    Danielle Adams sets a school record for tournament scoring with 30 point after totaling just 22 points in her previous two tournament games.

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