March Madness began a bit late in the NCAA women's basketball tournament, but once it did it was two number one seeds that suffered most.
After the top-seeded Tennessee Lady Vols fell to the Notre Dame Fight Irish yesterday, Texas A&M finally found a way to beat the Baylor Lady Bears 58-46 in the Dallas region in a game that was competitive, but not necessarily pretty.
Although Baylor played marginally better in the second half, they were also beat on the boards primarily by Adora Elonu who finished with a game-high 10 rebounds to go with eight points. But the most consistent factor working against Baylor in this game was their inability to establish any rhythm offensively as they committed turnovers on just under 28 percent of their possessions in a rather slow and grinding game.
That shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise - TAMU has played Baylor close this season and the main difference between this game and their Valentine's Day meeting is that Baylor never really found that spark despite cutting the lead to seven with under five minutes left. Brittney Griner did lead Baylor with 20 points and nine rebounds, but Baylor's young guards struggled against the pressure from TAMU's more experienced guards both in terms of making crisp passes and getting to the basket off the dribble.
And although they don't get nearly the respect they deserve nationally, TAMU guards and Sydney Carter and Sydney Colson were almost entirely responsible for that outstanding defensive effort. While Colson led the defensive charge with a game-high five steals, Carter added three steals and was outstanding offensively with a game-high 22 points.
So was this an upset? This was a game that really could have gone either way. When it got closer down the stretch, you had to wonder whether TAMU would let flashbacks of past losses interfere and crumble under the pressure of the moment. Instead, TAMU's experience won out and whether the odds of beating a team a fourth time really mattered or not, the fact is that TAMU was so close in those previous matchups that it became clear that they were worthy of a Final Four berth, as described at SBN's Swish Appeal after their February loss.