WOMEN'S BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Aggies prove too much for UND (w/video)
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — UND was the top rebounding team in the Big Sky Conference this season. North Dakota outrebounded opponents during the regular season by an average of almost 12 boards per game.
Against Texas A&M on Sunday, UND was outrebounded 49-36 as the Aggies took a 70-55 win in the opening round of the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament.
The Aggies’ length inside was too much for UND. A&M started 6-foot-5 Karla Gilbert and she rotated with 6-7 Rachel Mitchell. Gilbert finished with 14 points and eight rebounds while Mitchell grabbed five boards.
Also, the Aggies grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, leading to 14 second-chance points.
The Aggies also outscored UND 34-22 in the paint.
A&M coach impressed
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair was impressed with UND's showing.
"Give North Dakota a lot of credit," he said. "I believe this the fifth or sixth first-timer that we've played in the tournament.
"By far, North Dakota played us better than all the others that we've had in the first round."
Blair was not happy with his team's first-half performance and let his players know it at halftime, even with ESPN cameras in the A&M locker room.
"My assistants said to me, 'My gosh coach, you were so hard on them at halftime right there. The whole nation heard that.'
"But we had to win a ball game."
At the postgame press conference, the Texas media covering the game asked UND players about making the NCAA tournament for the first time and what it meant. It’s a question UND players have been asked for the last week.
But UND players answered them again. And their responses were the same.
“The accomplishments we’ve had this season will go down in school history,” said UND senior Madi Buck. “We were the first to go to the NCAAs and the first to win the Big Sky Conference.
“It’s a crappy feeling right now but we can’t hang our heads. We just ran into a team that was better.”
Nebraska’s Tim Miles is famous for offering his views on Twitter during his team’s games.
UND’s Travis Brewster was on social media as well at halftime of Sunday’s game.
Seconds after UND headed for the locker room, Brewster took to Twitter and offered this tweet: “Halftime March Madness vs TAMU is historical, exhilarating, exciting Let’s go n compete! 20 min left”
UND trailed 30-26 at intermission after the Aggies scored four points in the final 37 seconds to break a tie.
Some UND spirit
Thanks to a local College Station high school, UND had a pep band at Sunday’s game.
A band from A&M Consolidated High School agreed to serve as UND’s pep band. The school filled a similar role when Wichita State played in a past NCAA tournament game at Reed Arena.
The high school’s band director got in touch with UND last week and the wheels started rolling. Band members wore green T-shirts with the UND logo on the front.
“It’s great,” said Daniella Irle, UND’s Senior Women’s Administrator of the band’s help. “It was the easiest decision of the week.”
UND’s bench outscored A&M’s bench 15-6. ... Gilbert had five blocked shots against UND, bringing her season total to 64. She holds the single-season record for blocked shots at A&M and is second on the school’s career list. ... A&M advanced to the second round of the tournament for the eighth straight year. ... A&M is 19-9 all time in NCAA tournament play.