Perhaps one way to describe the difference between a good defender and a great defender is that that good defenders do an outstanding job of responding effectively to stop what offenses give them.
Great defenders impose their will on an offense and force their offense into patterns they don't want to fall into, whether it be demoralizing them into staying away from the rim or forcing them into rushed shots.
Texas A&M Aggies point guard Sydney Colson is quite simply an outstanding defender and easily among the top point guard defenders in the nation. With Colson on the floor visibly forcing Notre Dame Fighting Irish guards into second guessing their every decision along with Sydney Carter, TAMU jumped out to an 18-6 lead and eventually a 27-14 lead with 9:05 left in the half.
However, it wasn't just forcing turnovers that gained them a big lead - appeared to have Notre Dame in a state of shock and unable to run their own stuff, much less stopping TAMU from running their offense and getting second chance scoring opportunities - TAMU finished the half with a 6 to 2 offensive rebounding advantage and a 6 to 0 second chance points advantage.
It seemed like it just wasn't Notre Dame's night on the big stage.
And while some people may immediately point to Colson picking up her third foul as a turning point, the lead was already down to six when she left the game at the 4:55 mark - Notre Dame had already started punching back. Colson's foul just sort of accelerated the budding momentum and then Skylar Diggins showed how valuable she can be for this team as a passer as well as a scorer.
Diggins finished the half with eight points and only one assist to three turnovers, but she took control of the game that stats don't reflect, becoming a calmer and more patient player with supreme awareness of where both her and her players were. This is a game billed as one about team chemistry, but Diggins' ability to calm down in the face of TAMU's pressure and bring her tam back to a 35-33 lead was remarkable.
Deveraux Peters led Notre Darme with 10 points and five boards while Damielle Adams and Tyra White co-led TAMU with eight apiece.