Nov. 15, 2011
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -
Texas A&M's 6-foot-4 center Kelsey Bone had just one rebound in the Aggies' season opener.
That was unacceptable to coach Gary Blair. So he called her into his office on Tuesday and challenged her to do more against Louisville.
Bone responded with 15 points and nine rebounds to lead No. 6 Texas A&M to a 76-58 win over the shorthanded, ninth-ranked Cardinals.
"I took it personally. I knew I had to rebound," Bone said. "There's no night where we should ever be outrebounded. Me having one rebound is never acceptable."
The Aggies outrebounded Louisville 47-41, but were dominant on the offensive boards, where they had a 28-19 advantage.
Bone, in her first season with the Aggies after sitting out last year following a transfer from South Carolina, didn't have a turnover after losing the ball six times in her Texas A&M debut.
"She's getting better," Blair said. "She was a force in the middle. She's taking coaching and that's the most important thing."
The Aggies received their national championship rings and unveiled a banner commemorating their title in a pregame ceremony and the excitement carried over into the game as they jumped out to an 8-0 lead.
It was a lead they never gave up. The Aggies led by nine points with 13 minutes remaining before using an 11-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by freshman Alexia Standish to stretch the lead to 58-38 three minutes later.
Tyra White, who scored 18 points to help the Aggies beat Notre Dame 76-70 for their first national title in April, was taken back as she saw the banner for the first time.
"I was there again," she said of the title game. "It was like the game again at the end."
The Cardinals were led by Bria Smith's career-high 20 points. Becky Burke added 13 points and Cierra Warren chipped in with 12.
Louisville was without Tia Gibbs, who missed the game after injuring her shoulder against Missouri State on Sunday, and Monique Reid, who has back and foot injuries.
The Cardinals were forced into 27 turnovers, including six from Smith and five from Shelby Harper.
"We did not play all of Louisville," he said. "They had three starters out and instead of a 20-point ballgame I think it would have been right down to the wire."
Blair thought that his team's full-court press was a key to the win.
"You just cannot simulate that kind of pressure in practice, what we put on people," he said.
This was the just the second meeting between these teams and the first since a Louisville win in 1992. It is the first of several tough non-conference games for the Aggies, who will also meet No. 4 Connecticut, No. 16 Purdue and No. 23 Southern Cal before Big 12 play begins.
Carter had a career-high eight steals and White grabbed seven rebounds for Texas A&M.
Louisville got within 17 points on a layup by Smith with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining. The Aggies responded with an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 73-49 and put the game farther out of reach.
The Aggies took an early 8-0 lead thanks to four quick points each from White and Bone. The Cardinals didn't score until Smith hit a pair of free throws with just more than 16 minutes left in the first half to make it 8-2.
Texas A&M was up by 12 points with three minutes remaining in the first half, but Louisville scored six straight points after that to cut the lead to 31-25. But Adaora Elonu hit a jump shot 19 seconds before halftime to give the Aggies a 33-25 lead at the break.