- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 29, 2009

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The expected defensive battle turned into a shootout, and Arizona State had a little too much for Texas A&M.;

Briann January scored 22 points and the Sun Devils scorched Texas A&M;’s pressing defense like no one else this season in posting an 84-69 victory to gain the second regional final in school history.

Arizona State (26-8) will face top-seeded Connecticut (36-0) on Tuesday night for a trip to the Final Four in St. Louis. The Huskies rallied from an eight-point first-half deficit to beat California 77-53, advancing to their 14th regional final in 16 years.

Danielle Orsillo added 15 points and Lauren Lacey had 14 for the Sun Devils, who shot a season-high 62 percent from the field against a team that had given up only 87 points in its two tournament games.

Tanisha Smith had 19 points and Takia Starks added 18 for the second-seeded Aggies (27-8), who were looking to advance to the regional final for the second straight year. Danielle Gant added 13 points for Texas A&M;, which shot 48 percent from the field.



Arizona State lost to Rutgers in 2007 in its only other regional final. The Sun Devils will have to shoot just as well against Connecticut to make their first Final Four, but the way they played against A&M; should give them confidence.

The Sun Devils never trailed in the second half although they did not take control until the final three minutes when they used a 7-2 run to push their lead to 10 points.

Like most of the game, the run was balance. Nine players scored for Arizona State, with the Sun Devils shuttling in and out of the lineup like a hockey team.

Texas A&M; got as close as a point early in the second half and it was still within three points when Starks hit two free throws with 7:12 to go to close the gap to 68-65.

After Sybil Dosty missed two free throws for Arizona State, the Aggies had a chance to close the gap but Starks turned the ball over and January hit a driving layup.

Texas A&M; would miss two more shots and turn the ball over again on its next three possessions, and Kayli Murphy pushed the Sun Devils’ lead to 72-65 with a layup.

The Aggies got within five points on two other occasions before Arizona State put the game away.

Arizona State also came into the game with a defensive reputation, allowing an average of 52.5 points in the first two tournament games.

However, both teams showed little defense in the first half. The teams combined to hit 17 of 25 heading into the first television time out.

The Sun Devils led 42-37 at the half, hitting 16 of 24 shots from the field with January leading the way with 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting.

A&M; stayed close by hitting 16 of 29 shots, or 55.2 percent.

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