“I thought it was probably not so entertaining from my point of view,” McGraw said. “I think from the fan’s point of view, it was probably a pretty entertaining game.”
After a back-and-forth first half, and with the Aggies trailing 48-43 early in the second half, Adams simply took over — urged on by her coach to “quit shooting the jump shot.”
The 6-foot-1 center scored 10 of the next 13 points for the Aggies to give them a 56-53 lead midway through the second half. Texas A&M then extended the advantage to 64-57 behind the two Sydneys: Carter and Colson.
Notre Dame wouldn’t give up, battling back behind Diggins and Devereaux Peters. The Irish scored nine of the next 11 points to tie the game at 66 on Diggins’ jumper with 3:56 left.
Blair went right to Adams on the next two possessions and she delivered, hitting back-to-back layups and wearing out the Irish by hitting her first eight shots of the half and finishing 9 of 11.
Peters’ putback cut it to 70-68, but White hit her big 3 — her second game-saving shot of the tournament after her layup lifted the Aggies over Stanford on Sunday. Diggins had two free throws with 40.7 seconds left, and McGraw called her final timeout only to see her young star turn it over in front of the bench. White hit two free throws to seal the win.
Diggins finished with 23 points and Peters added 21 and 11 rebounds for Notre Dame (31-8). Diggins, fighting back tears, said the Irish couldn’t handle A&M’s pressure.
“We turned it over too much. I don’t know if it was nerves or what,” she said. “We just didn’t handle the pressure.”
Indeed, the night belonged to the Aggies in a game played just a few hours’ drive from the Notre Dame campus in South Bend.
The championship is the first in a major sport for Texas A&M since the football team won it all back in 1939. And it comes at a school that didn’t even admit women until 1963, and where school administrators didn’t always see the advantage of funding men’s and women’s sports equally when Title IX passed in 1972.
By 1994, A&M had earned its first NCAA tournament bid and immediately reached the regional semifinals. Still, things slowed until Blair arrived in 2003.
The man with the sharp tongue, quick wit and deep Southern drawl found himself at home recruiting Texas’ best players, and teaming with others in the athletic department to sell the school.
Winning the title will certainly help.
“Me and my team couldn’t let our seniors (Colson and Adams) leave without winning a national championship,” White said. “We had to send them off in the right way, and, baby, we sure did.”
The Aggies rode a relentless defense that didn’t allow more than 50 points in the tournament until Stanford scored 62 in the semifinals.