INDIANAPOLIS – Texas A&M’s defense was good enough to upset two No. 1 seeds.
They will find out Tuesday night if it is good enough to win a national championship.
Sydney Colson drove the length of the floor and found a cutting Tyra White for a layup with 3.3 seconds left to give the Aggies a thrilling 63-62 victory Sunday over Stanford. The teams traded leads five times in the final minute, capping A&M’s remarkable rally from a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes.
And they’re not finished yet.
“It’s time to make history,” Colson said.
The Aggies (32-5) already have done that by punching a ticket to their first title game. But beat home state favorite Notre Dame on Tuesday night and the Aggies will have far more to celebrate.
Still, Sunday’s comeback will not be soon forgotten.
When Stanford took a 54-44 lead with 6:01 to play, most people at Conseco Fieldhouse assumed the Cardinal were heading to a third title game in four years.
But the Aggies changed the game with their oppressive defense.
Stanford (33-3) managed only two more baskets the rest of the night, and A&M’s aggressive offensive moves got them back into the game.
Then came the frantic final minute.
Colson gave Texas A&M a 59-58 lead by making two free throws with 53 seconds left.
Eighteen seconds later, Danielle Adams was called for a foul on Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike. She made both shots to give Stanford a 60-59 lead.
“It was hectic, you know,” Aggies guard Sydney Carter said. “Everybody was saying 30 seconds for the rest of y’all’s lives.”
Turns out 30 seconds was still an eternity for these teams.
A&M came back with White’s layup with 19 seconds to go, only to have Ogwumike answer with a tough layup with 9 seconds left that gave Stanford a 62-61 lead.
The Aggies, without a timeout, immediately got the ball to Colson, who raced up the floor and dished to White for the winner.
White finished with 18 points, and a slow-starting Adams had 16 points for the Aggies.
The Cardinal were led by Ogwumike’s 31 points and Jeanette Pohlen had 11, but went home empty-handed from the Final Four for a fourth consecutive year.
“It’s hard,” senior Kayla Pedersen said. “I mean, it’s an awful feeling. The hardest part isn’t losing the game, it’s leaving these players.”
A&M dictated the tempo all night. It held Stanford’s potent offense 18 points under its average, and forced the Cardinal into 22 turnovers. Even being the first tourney team to top 50 points against Texas A&M in a game wasn’t enough Sunday.
“They are extremely athletic. They play extremely hard,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “They get the loose balls. I thought we played very well to get the lead. We had to do some things we didn’t have to do all season long against anyone else. It came down to one play.”