For the second straight year, the outcome between the Blue Devils and Aggies came down to the final possessions. And for the second straight year, the Aggies prevailed.
After leading by double-digits in the second half, No. 12 Texas A&M outlasted No. 14 Duke in overtime 72-66 Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, handing the Blue Devils their first loss of the season. Redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell led the way for Duke with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, but the veteran guard play of Courtney Walker and Jordan Jones led the Aggies to a marquee road win.
“There was certainly a time there that we fought really hard, but the reality is, that’s how we have to be playing the game the entire game, not just when you’re trying to come back,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “Hopefully we’ll understand what that feels like, that intensity that we showed when we came back from 10 points down.”
In the extra period, forward Courtney Williams—the Aggies’ third senior starter—gave Texas A&M a 65-64 lead it would not relinquish with a runner that bounced high off the back of the rim and dropped in, and Blue Devil freshman guard Crystal Primm let a pass slip through her hands on the ensuing possession to hand it back to the Aggies (3-0).
Duke (2-1) scored the first point of overtime on a Kyra Lambert free throw just 21 seconds into the period, but would not score again until Primm made a contested layup to trim the deficit to 69-66 with 35.5 seconds remaining. Texas A&M made a few free throws down the stretch to ice the game as Duke’s 3-point attempts in the final minute did not fall.
Freshman Angela Salvadores made a step-back jumper to tie the game with 7:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the game went back and forth for the rest of regulation. Greenwell converted a driving layup to give Duke a 63-61 lead with 2:23 left to play, but the Blue Devils could not score on their next two chances to make it a two-possession game. Aggie center Khaalia Hillsman tied the contest with a layup with 34 seconds remaining, and the teams went to overtime deadlocked at 63.
“I just tried to talk to everyone in the huddle, keep doing the little things,” Greenwell said. “We did a really good job and I think in the second half we all came together and played a lot better together.”
The Blue Devils could not exploit height advantages all over the floor Wednesday, as Texas A&M finished with a 17-13 advantage on second-chance points. After outrebounding both of its first two opponents by 15, Duke was outrebounded 49-44.
“Twenty offensive boards, that’s just guts and kids with pride. Last year at our place they had 20 on us. So, I don’t know at the end if we just wanted it a little bit more on the tough rebounds,” Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair said. “[My team] competed hard against McDonald’s All-Americans. I’ve got a lot of Burger Kings, but they’re pretty good and I’m not trading them.”
The Duke frontcourt also took a critical blow when forward Oderah Chidom picked up her third foul just 35 seconds into the third quarter. Chidom had just made a layup to trim the deficit to 33-32, and the Aggies responded with 10-0 run with the Oakland, Calif., native on the bench to extend their lead to double-digits.
Duke pressed aggressively to manufacture a comeback, and McCallie’s squad trimmed the margin to three points after Chidom got a steal and threw a long pass down the floor to find Salvadores for a transition layup, giving the Blue Devils some momentum to set up the dramatic fourth stanza.
Both offenses came out strong in a back-and-forth start to the game. Duke sophomore Azurá Stevens knocked down an open 3-pointer from the wing and Greenwell followed up with a pair of layups, but the Aggies responded. Greenwell made a 3-pointer of her own to break a 9-9 tie and had 11 of Duke’s 16 points when she went to the bench for a rest with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter. The Blue Devils led 21-16 after 10 minutes despite seven early turnovers.
Greenwell, Stevens and Salvadores all finished in double-figures to lead the Blue Devils.
“Becca’s going really hard. I love her attack mode and I particularly liked when she went to the basket, got through all that traffic and finished,” McCallie said. “Becca’s known for her shooting, but she’s a complete player. She can rebound, she can pass, she can shoot, she can drive, and that was really evident in this game.”
The turnover parade continued in the second quarter—Duke had 13 at halftime and 20 for the game—but the Blue Devils’ perimeter shooting and ability to finish in the post disappeared, allowing Texas A&M to climb back into the game. The Aggies took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes on a pull-up jumper by senior Chelsea Jennings with just 14 seconds remaining before the break, giving them a 31-30 advantage heading into the locker room.
Duke returns to Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday at 2 p.m. against Army.
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