Point guard Kira Orr poured in 30 points to keep Duke in the game before the Blue Devils ultimately ...


Kira Orr was whistled for a questionable charge call on a shot that would have clinched a Duke win ...

This week in Duke history: Duke women's basketball loses 4-overtime thriller in NCAA tournament

It’s one thing to lose a game simply by getting outplayed.

It’s another when it takes four overtimes to get there.

But that’s what happened on March 18, 1995, when Duke lost one of the most exciting games in women's college basketball history, a 121-120 four-overtime defeat to Alabama in the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. The game broke 10 NCAA tournament records—including longest game, most points scored and most rebounds.

“One time I asked what overtime we were in—I didn’t know,’" Duke center Alison Day said after the game.

Fourth-seeded Alabama missed more than 35 3-pointers during the game, but it came back on a triple when it mattered most. Kira Orr, a sophomore for fifth-seeded Duke who scored 30 points that night, was whistled for what The Chronicle's Dan Wichman described as a controversial charge with a three-point lead and 18.8 seconds remaining.

With new life, Alabama’s Niesa Johnson then sank an off-balance 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Of course, the drama was just beginning to settle in, but part of what made the game so special is that it was not televised at all. That means that only the crowd of 1,966 ever saw the game, no highlights to follow.

They saw Johnson again tie the score with two seconds left in the first overtime with two free throws, which Wichman also called a debatable foul.

Still, after losing, Duke continued to rise, advancing to four Final Fours under then-third year head coach Gail Goestenkors, winning five straight ACC titles and reaching 13 consecutive NCAA tournaments before she left for Texas. This game—part of Duke’s first NCAA tournament run in eight years and part of its resurgence after finishing last in the ACC in 1993—was just the beginning of what was to come.

For Alabama? Well, it has not reached an Elite Eight since 1994 or an NCAA tournament since 1999, and it lost the next game to undefeated and eventual-champion Connecticut.

It’s the war, not the battle, as they say.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Chronicle.