FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)—Seniors Adaora Elonu and Tyra White knew defending national champion Texas A&M needed to make a statement after consecutive losses to ranked teams.
They answered the call by combining for nearly half of No. 8 Texas A&M’s points in a 68-53 victory over TCU on Sunday.
“This was definitely something we needed, this win,” said Elonu, who had 15 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. “We need to play hard and really establish who we are. Those two losses didn’t show what we are capable of.”
White also had 15 points.
After giving up 81 points and letting No. 2 Connecticut shoot 51.6 percent in a loss five days ago, the Aggies (7-2) established their trademark defensive mentality from the get-go in this finale of a five-game road trip.
TCU (4-5) did not score for the first 3 1/2 minutes and trailed 22-9 with 4:45 remaining in the first half. A&M led 28-19 at halftime after limiting TCU to 25 percent shooting and forcing 12 turnovers.
“It seemed like an uphill climb most of the day,” TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. “It seemed like every time we had a chance to get it to seven or six, we’d have a turnover. We had plenty of opportunities and we couldn’t get over the hump.”
The Aggies started the second half with an 8-2 run and then had a 7-0 spurt to take a 46-29 lead with 12:34 to play.
Over the next 3 1/2 minutes, TCU forced five turnovers, started focusing on defensive rebounding and scored four fast break points, a putback and a 3-pointer in a 10-2 run to pull within 48-39. But the Frogs couldn’t keep up that furious pace.
That, and a hefty size and rebounding advantage caused fits for the Frogs. A&M had 34 points in the paint to TCU’s 24, and the Aggies outrebounded the Frogs 48-27 with 21 offensive rebounds, something Mittie said was “almost impossible” to overcome.”
“My bigs were very active,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. “We’ve been shooting the ball poorly in the first half, and in the second half all of a sudden we got the ball inside more.”
Sophomore Briesha Wynn scored a career-high 14 points for TCU, which was hosting a defending champion for the first time since Texas in 1987. Freshman Chelsea Prince added 10 points and seven steals.
Natalie Ventress, the Frogs’ leading scorer, was held without a point over 13 minutes while being guarded mostly by White. Ventress had been averaging nearly 27 minutes per game, but Mittie said she was “in a funk” and he “didn’t like her aggressiveness,” thus he limited her minutes.
Blair called his team a “work in progress” but did like the way they responded against a young TCU team.
“We struggled a lot, a little bit was TCU, a little was us,” Blair said. “We’re so far away from being a top 10 team right now it’s not even funny. This is about where we were last year, and we’re going to keep working and working.”