Adams leads A&M to easy win at Rice
HOUSTON (AP)—Texas A&M coach Gary Blair nitpicked his defense after an 80-40 victory over Rice on Saturday night, even after the Aggies seemed to do just about everything right.
No. 8 A&M (2-0) smothered the overmatched Owls (2-3) with full-court pressure, forcing 24 turnovers and holding Rice to 27 percent shooting.
Blair wanted the Aggies to dominate even more.
“We were having trouble with their ‘weave’ offense, we were making too many fouls,” Blair said. “A stop is good. Make them miss. Don’t hope they miss. Make them miss, get the rebound and get into transition. Too many times, we were trying to steal the ball from them, instead of (playing) lockdown defense.”
Danielle Adams had 26 points and 10 rebounds and Tyra White added 16 for A&M, which outrebounded Rice 54-27. The 6-foot-1 Adams also had a double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds) in the Aggies’ opening win over Arkansas-Little Rock.
D’Frantz Smart scored 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting to lead the Owls, who mustered only 19 points in the second half. Smart was one of four Rice players with four turnovers.
“They obviously have more talent than we have,” Rice coach Greg Williams said. “But they had more effort than we had, and that’s disappointing. We’ve got to be a little tougher mentally and physically.”
The Aggies took immediate control, opening the game with a 15-0 run. The Owls missed their first five shots and had seven turnovers in the first 7 minutes.
“That was our game plan, just to stop their offense,” Adams said.
Smart ended Rice’s early drought with a 3-pointer with 12:59 left in the half. The 6-foot-1 Adams answered with another basket inside to make it 17-3.
Adams scored 13 of A&M’s first 22 points and had six rebounds in the first 9 minutes. She pulled down another Owls’ miss near the 11-minute mark and threw a perfect pass to White for an easy layup and a 24-5 lead.
“She’s the best passer we have,” Blair said.
Adams went to the bench for a rest with 10:57 left in the half, but A&M’s defense kept control, forcing the Owls into wild shots and sloppy turnovers.
Blair said his reserves didn’t play as well as they did in the opening win over Arkansas-Little Rock.
“The other night, I was able to substitute and keep continuity,” Blair said. “Tonight, I didn’t have the continuity, once I went to my bench. I’ve got to trust those kids, I’ve got to develop them.”
A&M led 33-14 when Adams returned with 4:20 left before the break. Rice played better offensively in the closing minutes of the half, but Adrienne Pratcher just beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to put A&M up 38-21.
The Owls shot 31.8 percent in the first half (7 for 22) and were outrebounded 24-14.
The Aggies opened the second half almost like they started the game, with a 14-0 spurt fueled by Rice turnovers and more missed shots. White scored twice inside to stretch the lead past 20 points for the first time, and Carter’s free throw with 16:08 left made it 52-21.
Adams said A&M played noticeably better defense after halftime.
“The second half, we played great defense,” Adams said. “The first half was kind of iffy. We adjusted and just got better at it.”
Jessica Kuster’s short-range jumper with 15:52 remaining was the Owls’ only field goal through the first seven minutes of the second half. Smart drove into the lane for a basket with 12:59 left, but Kristen Grant hit a shot from the baseline on A&M’s next possession to put the Aggies up 60-25.
Blair took out his starters near the 8-minute mark, with the Aggies leading 67-31. The margin swelled to 40 points by the 4-minute mark, as A&M’s backups continued to swarm the Owls and generate turnovers.
The Aggies will play Liberty on Monday night before flying to Cancun to play in a tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend.
A&M played again without senior point guard Sydney Colson, sidelined indefinitely by a right foot injury.