INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 5: Head Coach Gary Blair of the Texas A&M Aggies and the Texas A&M Aggies celebrate their National Championship after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 76-70 in the 2011 NCAA Women's Final Four championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse on April 5, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
No Maya Moore. No Tree. No big blocks from Brittney Griner. No problem. The disappointment some felt with the fact the undercards were fighting the headline bout were quickly erased when Texas A&M and Notre Dame put on their gloves and the Aggies survived for the 76-70 knockout.
"You're here because you want to cover women's basketball at the highest level," A&M coach Gary Blair said in his post game remarks. "Tonight, we gave you that game. We gave you that national championship game without the so-called powers of the world. The two powers tonight were the two that earned it, and that's Notre Dame and that's Texas A&M.
"Either one of us deserves this trophy, but we played just a little bit better in the second half. We shot 68-or-something percent in the second half, about what Notre Dame shot in the first half ... But we found a way. I really do not like to coach as hard as I had to tonight and use the whip a little. But they responded."
After starting out slow in the first half, senior all-American Danielle Adams turned the table in the second with 22 points. At the 13:57 mark in the second period, Adams sunk a pair of free throws to tie the game at 48-48 and start a 10 point scoring run of her own. When Adams stopped being the sole scorer for the Aggies with 10:06 to play, A&M had the 56-53 advantage which they never relinquished. She capped her collegiate career with a game-high 30 points and team-high nine rebounds en route to hoisting MVP hardware in Indianapolis.
"I had a little voice in my head that said, ‘Don't let this team down.'," Adams said. "And my teammates, every time we would get down, we would tell each other, we're not going to lose this game. And, I mean, we fought hard, from day one, from 6 a.m. to practice. I mean, we worked hard the whole season to prepare for this point. And that's what we did.
"And I just took the game over. I wasn't going to let my team lose. I mean, they've been doing everything for me, so I decided to take them on my back and just let them ride on my back."
But the thin team that basically plays the starting five for nearly every minute of the game wasn't just the Danielle Adams show. Junior Tyra White was 7-of-9 from the field for 18 points and drained her only 3-point attempt with 58 seconds to play to get the Aggies up by five. With pure ice water in her veins.
"I really didn't know the ball was coming to me," White said. "The play was designed for Danielle. But when I came off I seen they were triple-teaming her, and I knew Coach was going to pass me the ball, because he's smart like that, so I just wanted to hit it. Kinda hit my elbow, too, so I didn't really think it was going to go in, but it did, I'm glad it went in."
The Sydneys, as many refer to Colson and Carter, got into a little foul trouble. Carter had two big blocks and five good boards to combine for 15 points of offense for A&M. But Colson had three key steals and the first scoring of the game 11 seconds in despite her early fouls.
"I think it's so huge, just because it's finally like, you know, we've had track and field win championships, equestrian, and those are big sports, but a lot of people have been waiting for women's basketball to really do something big," Colson said. "And in the past two years we had underachieved tremendously. And I think this team was sick of it.
"We got together this summer, decided to have voluntary workouts, getting together, conditioning, working on our one-on-one games, and I think it prepared us for what we were going to go through this season with the ups and downs we've had, everybody being resilient, working hard and believing in one another. We were able to fight and battle through it. And I think it's huge not only for our team but for the Aggie community."
After such a marked contrast from the men's final four game just one night previously, Blair spoke about what this exciting game not only meant to A&M, but also to the sport - and did a damn fine job of it.
"I hope Tony Kornheiser watched it because he didn't speak very highly of ourselves or Notre Dame or the lack of star powers. Danielle Adams, Skylar Diggins, come on? Okay," Blair said. "Now, Muffet and I are not in the Hall of Fame but we're pretty doggone good coaches. We've got great staffs, and we know what we're doing. But women's basketball needed this game perhaps more than Texas A&M or Notre Dame needed it.
"We're going to give the country a chance for them to be able to see you can win a lot of different ways without the kids scoring 35 points or whatever. And not all kids have to go to certain schools. That's what's good about our game. Our kids are going to school for four years and getting an education and being successful in life. That's what the game needs right now. "
The game got exactly what it needed - two (seeds) for the ages. An amazing game played by both teams that I already want to watch again. And a championship for College Station. Gig em.