- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS (AP) - Texas A&M is the first women’s program to earn a No. 2 seed in four consecutive NCAA tournaments.

The Aggies would love to finally take advantage of the favorable seeding and reach the Final Four for the first time.

Texas A&M (27-5) plays McNeese State (26-6) on Sunday in Shreveport, La., the first step toward what the Aggies hope will be a program-defining run to Indianapolis.

Coach Gary Blair, in his eighth season, has built A&M into a national power and a perennial contender in the rugged Big 12. But the Aggies have taken a step backward in each of the last two NCAA tournaments since reaching the regional finals in 2008.

They lost to Arizona State in the regional semifinals in 2009, then bowed out to Gonzaga in the second round last year after winning the Big 12 tournament championship.

“It’s very important for us to live up to who we’re supposed to be,” Blair said Wednesday.

A&M’s experienced starting lineup, with five upperclassmen, also senses the urgency to make a breakthrough this year.

Senior point guard Sydney Colson has seen 109 victories, the most in any four-year span in school history. She’s proud of that, yet also unfulfilled by the team’s early exits from the tournament.

“It’s motivation, because we’ve always been told that we have a team that’s good enough to make it,” Colson said. “We haven’t done that yet. We know we have the talent, we have all pieces. We just haven’t been tough enough to win those games and make it to the next level.”

A&M is averaging 78.6 points per game, second in the Big 12 to Baylor, and led the league in turnover margin (plus-8.7) and offensive rebounds (16.5 per game).

Senior Danielle Adams enters the tournament as the Big 12’s leading scorer (22.7 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (8.6 per game) and Colson leads the league in assists (6.4 per game).

The statistics are impressive, but if they’re going to translate into postseason success, the Aggies say they have to quickly learn how to finish games better.

In early December, A&M led Duke 58-57 with two minutes left and lost 61-58. In mid-February, A&M led Baylor 56-53 with under four minutes to go in Waco, and was outscored 14-2 the rest of the way.

And in the Big 12 championship game, the Aggies built a 12-0 lead against Baylor, led by one with nine minutes left and lost 61-58.

“We just really haven’t been making good decisions down the stretch,” junior guard Sydney Carter said. “We’ve been working on that in practice. That’s one part of our game we’re really trying to fix before we get into the tournament. We’ve let too many (games) slip away.”

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