No. 5 Irish Snap Aggie Win Streak
A&M junior center Kelsey Bone led all players with 28 points and also had a team-high 10 rebounds. She was named to the all-tournament team, having averaged 27 points and 10 rebounds per game and shooting 39-of-46 during the three-day tournament. Courtney Walker and Kristi Bellock also posted double-figure points against the Irish with 12 and 11, respectively. A&M senior point guard Adrienne Pratcher led all players with eight assists.
Notre Dame had four players in double-digit points, including tournament MVP Skylar Diggins, who had 24 points. Natalie Achonwa added 22 points and led all players with 14 rebounds. Twelve of Achonwa's points came on free throws as Notre Dame was 21-of-25 from the line while A&M was 6-of-10.
The Aggies got out to a quick start, jumping out to a 14-6 lead in the first five minutes, but it would be A&M's largest lead of the night. In a game that saw seven ties and seven lead changes, the experienced Irish began to chip away, taking their first lead at 23-21 at the 8:20 mark. A&M held its last lead of the half at 27-26 before Notre Dame made several short runs, with Aggie freshman guard Peyton Little hitting two clutch three-pointers to keep A&M within striking distance at 36-33.
Notre Dame got a bucket at the end of the half to take a 44-37 lead heading into the intermission, but A&M would start strong in the second half to retake the lead at 48-46 with 15:59 remaining following a basket by Bone. Just as the youthful Aggies took the lead, Notre Dame countered, erupting for 13 unanswered points to put the Irish up, 59-48, at the 11:16 mark. A&M twice managed to cut the gap to five points, the last coming at 65-60 with 7:21 left in the game. Notre Dame went on to build its largest lead at 77-65 with 4:02 remaining, and the Aggies could get no closer than nine points for the reminder of the game.
The Aggies will take a break for Christmas and then return to Reed Arena on Dec. 28 to play host to Prairie View A&M. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair:
(on the positives of the game)
If there's been any basketball games this year better in the country, I'd like to see it on film because this was a great basketball game. We started off the game running our offense tremendously. Skylar Diggins upped the pressure on defense and our point guards started having problems. We turned it over 17 times in the first half, all against half-court pressure and traps, but we shot 60 percent. That's how well we were shooting the ball.
We made some adjustments at half. We went into a match-up zone trying to slow down their backdoor plays. That worked for a while because we went from eight down to one or two up. The match-up zone worked for a while, then they were running their man offense against it and they still kept getting that little pick-and-pop and drive off of it. Skylar played like an All-American. That is why she'll be the No. 2 or No. 3 draft pick in the country. I think we all know who will be No. 1.
I'm so proud of these kids. When you look at McBride and Diggins and you look at Walker, my freshman, Pratcher who has never started for me until this year and Jordan Jones, a freshman. I thought we held our own. We couldn't stop them from scoring, but they were having a hard time stopping us. If we would have just made a few of the key baskets; our transition offense really hurt us tonight. We'd get a turnover, couldn't score. They would force a turnover; they would shoot layups. It's hard to keep catching up, but I was proud of those freshmen. Little had a very good tournament. Jordan Jones played better today. Courtney Williams is coming along. I thought Courtney Walker or Pratcher easily could have been on the all-tournament team.
I'm happy for our kids because when you think about it, where we've come, kids going to both summer sessions, going to Europe for 10 days, coming back, fall practice, playing the nation's hardest schedule in preseason and then all of a sudden look at where we are today. If we would have had this game the first game of the year, we probably would have gotten beat by 25, but that is how we are closing the gap right now. We are starting to play smarter.
(On Kelsey Bone's play throughout the tournament)
Of all the years and all the All-American post players, I've never had a post player miss two shots in one game, two in the second game and two in this game, and they have pretty good post defenders. Kelsey Bone put on an All-American performance, not an all-SEC performance tonight. And then at the same time, Diggins on their team put on an All-American performance, but that is what it is all about.
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
● Texas A&M's win streak ends at eight games as the Aggies fall to 8-4.
● Notre Dame wins its fourth consecutive game to improve to 9-1
● A&M leads the series, 2-1.
● The previous meeting between Texas A&M and Notre Dame met was at the 2011 NCAA National Championship game, which the Aggies won 76-70 on April 5, 2011, in Indianapolis.
● Texas A&M shot a season high 58.2 percent in field goals but committed season highs of 21 personal fouls and 26 turnovers.
● Notre Dame was 21-of-25 from the free throw line, both season highs by an A&M opponent. The Irish's 84.0 percent shooting from the free throw line also is a season high by an A&M opponent.
● Notre Dame committed 13 turnovers, the fewest by an A&M opponent this season.
● Notre Dame outscored A&M 21-6 from the free throw line, 34-17 off of turnovers, 18-10 on second chance points and 16-6 on fast break points.
● The Aggies' largest lead was eight (14-6) with 15:20 remaining in the first half.
● Notre Dame led in rebounds, 40-33, including 21-8 in offensive rebounds.
● Notre Dame's 83 points is the most by an A&M opponent this season.
● All four of A&M's losses have been to top-10 ranked opponents (No. 9 Louisville, No. 9 Penn State and No. 2 Connecticut in the first three games of the season, and No. 5 Notre Dame)
● Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw won her 600th game in her 26th year at the helm of the Fighting Irish.
● Notre Dame had four players with double-figure points, including 24 by Skylar Diggins. Natalie Achonwa was 12-of-14 from the free throw line and finished with 22 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
● A&M starters were Kristi Bellock, Kelsey Bone, Tori Scott, Adrienne Pratcher and Courtney Walker
● Kelsey Bone posted her fourth double-double of the year (28 points, 10 rebounds) and scored more than 20 points for the fourth time this season and for the fourth time in the last five games.
● Kelsey Bone was named to the all-tournament team, having averaged 27.67 points and 10.33 rebounds per game and shooting 39-of-46 from the floor for the tournament.
● Kristi Bellock was 5-for-5 from the field and scored 11 points, the fifth time this season she has posted double figures in points.
● Freshman guard Courtney Williams tallied 12 points, marking the sixth time she has reached double figures.
FIRST HALF NOTES
● Notre Dame led 44-37 after 20 minutes of play for its largest lead in the first half.
● Texas A&M's largest lead came at 14-6 with 15:20 on the clock.
● Notre Dame took its first lead at 23-21 at the 8:24 mark.
● There were five lead changes and four ties in the first 20 minutes.
● Texas A&M committed 17 turnovers while Notre Dame committed eight.
● Notre Dame led A&M, 22-11, on points off turnovers.
● There were five lead changes and four ties in the first 20 minutes.
● Notre Dame was 11-of-13 from the free throw line as A&M was whistled for 10 fouls. A&M was 1-of-2 from the charity stripe on five Notre Dame fouls.
● A&M outshot Notre Dame 60.7 percent to 45.7 percent in the opening half.
● A&M's Kelsey Bone led all players with 14 points and 7 rebounds.
● Notre Dame had four players with double-figure points, including a team-high 12 by Natalie Achonwa.
SECOND HALF NOTES
● Notre Dame outscored Texas A&M 39-37 during the second half.
● A&M outshot Notre Dame, 55.6 percent to 36.8 percent.
● A&M took its only lead of the half at 48-46 with 15:59 remaining on a layup by Kelsey Bone.
● Notre Dame's largest lead was 12 points.
● The Aggies take a break for Christmas and then return to Reed Arena Dec. 28 to host Prairie View A&M. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
● Notre Dame hosts Purdue on Dec. 29.