Only 43 Division I women’s basketball programs have ever seen the Final Four, and of those 43, just 15 can claim a national championship. Texas A&M is one both of those lists.
That’s a relatively recent development, though. Roughly a decade back in 2011, the Aggies went the most magical run in their history, advancing to their first Final Four as the No. 2 seed in the Dallas Region. They pummeled their first three opponents – No. 15 seed McNeese State (87-47), No. 7 seed Rutgers (70-48) and No. 6 seed Georgia (79-38) – before facing No. 1 seed Baylor, the fourth meeting between the Big 12 teams that season. The Lady Bears had bested Texas A&M for the Big 12’s crowns, plus handed the Aggies three losses in three games during the regular season and conference tournament, though twice TAMU came within three of Baylor.
It would be a 3-1 season series between the programs, with Texas A&M happily winning the one that mattered most. The Aggies defeated Baylor, 58-46, in the Elite Eight, with a 22-point performance from guard Sydney Carter to lead all scorers.
In the Final Four, Texas A&M knocked off another No. 1 seed, this time narrowly edging Stanford, 63-62, in a come-from-behind victory. The Cardinal led, 54-44, with 6:01 remaining in the game. From there, the Aggies pulled off one of the more memorable national semifinal victories of the last 10 years.
The Aggies already pulled to within two, 54-52, by the 3:44 mark, then Colson coolly drilled two free throws with 52.9 seconds to go to put her team up, 59-58. Some free throws and traded layups later, the Aggies were looked at a one-point deficit, 62-61, with 9.2 ticks left. Without a timeout, Colson went coast-to-coast, then dished to guard Tyra White on the opposite block for an easy bucket to regain the lead with 3.3 seconds remaining. Texas A&M intercepted Stanford’a Hail Mary attempt at the end and secured a spot in its first-ever national championship game appearance.
“It’s time to make history,” Colson said after the Stanford win.
In the ultimate game of the season, the Aggies met the No. 2 seed from the Dayton Region: Notre Dame. The Irish were back in the national championship for the first time since winning their last title in 2001, and they were hungry for the program’s second.
Notre Dame held a slim 35-33 lead at halftime and continued its momentum from there, opening up a seven-point advantage minutes into the second half. But the Aggies would run right back and tie the game up only a few minutes later, and it would remain neck-and-neck until a 7-0 Texas A&M run for a 64-57 lead with 6:51 to play. The Irish would close the gap, even tying the game at 66 with 3:56 left, but the Aggies would ultimately hold onto the lead for good, sealing the game and the national championship with free throws in the final minute, 76-70.
For only the second time ever up to that point, the national championship was played without a No. 1 seed, and it was a rarity for traditional powers like Connecticut, Tennessee and Stanford to not be in attendance. But 2011 delivered a fantastic ending with the teams that deserved the spotlight.
“We gave you that national championship game without the so-called powers of the world,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. “The two powers tonight were the ones that earned it.”