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March 20, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Game thread: NCAA first-round Portland State v. Texas A&M

AGGIES WIN: Aggies coach Gary Blair’s wife is going to have to get used to her husband winning tournament games. She called while he was interviewing to tell him a cousin lives in Seattle. After the pause, he explained how PSU’s fast start forced him to make some adjustments until the defense could catch up. In the end, Smith and Adams were way too much for the Vikings. “Their athletic trainers and managers are more athletic than us,” Murrell said afterward. Texas A&M won 84-53 and will play the winner of the Gonzaga-UNC game. Adams led all scorers with 23 points while Faucher, who said she hit her head but is fine, finished with 15 along with Jones.
CORRECTION: Smith is back on the court to build her assists. She’s got two in building that Aggie lead to 80-53.
GAME OVER: Blair put junior guard Maryann Baker in the game, resting Smith, which is the equivalent of waving the flag to call the game. It doesn’t look like PSU has another burst in them and it certainly won’t carry them past the Aggies. Texas A&M is running a fluid game now and leads 71-46 with 7:47 left in the game.
LEAPING SMITH: Faucher in-bounded the ball right in front of press row and I must say Smith is intimidating. She has a high vertical and is quite springy. Aggies lead 67-46 with 9:13 on the clock.
GONE COLD: The Vikings are shooting 3-of-10 from the field and the Aggies are up at 58.3 percent.
QUICK WORK: Jones started the second half hitting two three-pointers, but even though Faucher was back on the court, her game wasn’t. She bricked shots and teammates had turnovers which led to the Aggies building a 52-37 lead with 15:32 remaining in the game. That’s a 13-6 run for all of you English majors.
WHEW!: Halftime is a welcomed break after that wild first half. Execution improved after a lot of turnovers to open the game. PSU ended up with 11 and was outscored 26-10 in the paint. But forced nine as the Aggies take a 39-31 lead into the second half. Elonu, Smith, and Adams have nine points apiece. Faucher and Jones lead the Vikings with seven points while Faucher also has five assists. She walked off the court into the locker room with Murrell and appeared able to play in the second half.
FAUCHER HURT?: Intending to stop a layin, Faucher drove hard down court for the ball. But hit the court hard. It brought a dead silence to the rowdy crowd. She’s being helped off and sitting on the bench, tended to by trainers.
BALLIN’: It’s not the prettiest play, but PSU has brought the ballers out in everyone on the court. The fun started when Faucher forced a turnover on Colson and stood in front of her fans waving her hands to get them hyped. Then the senior took the ball straight to the hoop on Colson for a layin. Jones added a pull-up jumper with 4:27 on the clock to give PSU a 28-27 lead. But Smith, who can only be stopped by keeping the ball out of her hands, responded for the Aggies by hitting a nice jumper. Texas A&M leads 29-28 with 3:41 remaining in the first half. Each team is shooting 42.3 percent from the field.
TREY BIEN: The three ball (4-for-8) is keeping the Vikings in the game and starting to get under the skin of Texas A&M. The Aggies have stepped up their defense, looking like a second layer of clothing on PSU. It’s impressive live after watching it on television all season. And they still lead 23-22 with 7:48 remaining in the opening half.
SEESAW: The Aggies have thwarted two ties to build a small 20-16 lead after a pretty steal and layin by Sydney Colson.
SHOWING BITE: The Vikings found their bite and have converted the Aggies’ turnovers into points. Plus Faucher drained a three-pointer. With 11:48 remaining, Texas A&M leads 14-12. Blair had seen enough of PSU hanging around and put Adams in the game, only it didn’t immediately work as planned. She collected a foul and missed her ensuing FTs on a missed bunny while being fouled. Portland State fans are happy, though, it’s not looking like a blowout anymore.
TOO SOFT: The Vikings are going up soft with their shot, so this could be a long night for them if they don’t get some gusto. The Aggies have turned the ball over twice, giving PSU opportunities. But Smith is putting on an early show. She’s made a three-pointer and jumper to help give Texas A&M a 8-0 lead there’s 16:54 remaining in the opening half.
KICK-OFF TUNES: “Don’t Stop Belivin'” by Journey played before the players were introduced. Thanks to the T.V. show “Glee,” maybe the athletes get as much a thrill from the hit as the mature fans.
It’s rocking inside Edmundson Pavilion. Portland State apparently brought its grad-student band (based on the age of the drummer) and is battling Texas A&M. It’s a clean fight, though, with each cheering for the other after songs.
Doubt the game plays that way. PSU coach Sherri Murrell said she going to get her team to scrap for everything and not give the Aggies anything simply because they’re the No. 2 seed.
Meanwhile Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said he’s going to have his team thinking the Vikings are the LA Lakers, defending them as such. The Aggies actually aren’t as great of defenders as the coach has had in the past simply because they don’t need to be.
The team has a lot of offensive power and it’s best option comes in off the bench in forward Danielle Adams, who averages 16 points and 5.7 boards. But keep an eye on senior wing Tanisha Smith, too. She’s being looked at by WNBA scouts because of her silky shot and defensive talents. Smith, who’s 6-foot, averages 15 points and 5.4 boards as a starter.
It’s a gorgeous, 68-degree day in Seattle, which could hurt the casual fan attendance. But there’s already more than the 745 Washington drew for its opening-round WBI tournament game on Wednesday in the seats now.
There haven’t been any upsets in the opening round of the NCAA women’s tourney, maybe No. 15 PSU will be the first? Only way to know is to play the game.
So, here are your starting lineups:
F Kate DePaepe
F Lexi Bishop
C Erin Yankus
G Claire Faucher
G Eryn Jones
F Damitria Buchanan
F Tanisha Smith
C Adaora Elonu
G Sydney Carter
G Tyra White
Tonight’s officials are Penny Davis, Roy Gulbeyan, and James Morrell



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