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The Troy Trojans had history on their minds Monday and nearly etched their names into the books.
No. 15 seed Troy took No. 2 Texas A&M down to the last seconds in the first round of the Mercado Region on Monday in the women's NCAA basketball tournament. Texas A&M survived, 84-80, to avoid becoming the first No. 2 seed to lose in the first round against a No. 15 seed.
The Trojans erased a 16-point deficit to go bucket-for-bucket down the stretch. They had multiple chances in the final minute to take the lead. They had one final last-ditch chance taken from them when the referees missed a call on the final inbound play by Texas A&M.
Blown call ends Troy's upset bid
The Aggies held a two-point lead on free throws by Destiny Pitts with 4.5 seconds left and only had to inbound to get back to the line and seal it.
But the Aggies appeared to commit an over-and-back that wasn't called. Troy's win probability was less than 2 percent at the time, per ESPN, but the Trojans still should have been given the final Hail Mary attempt. You never know in March.
Pitts came back to halfcourt to grab the ball and was sandwiched by two Troy defenders. Her hand clearly touched the ball in the frontcourt and she grabbed it again in the backcourt on the ESPN broadcast. Beth Mowins and Renee Montgomery were aghast in the booth the play wasn't even looked at by refs.
Troy should be upset for sure. What a game! The call was perfect:@bethmowins: “Troy coaches must apoplectic”@ReneeMontgomery: “that was a big word Beth and I’m that too!”#ncaaW https://t.co/dIye86Wi5e
— Andrea Poag (@andrea_poag) March 23, 2021
Though the referees went to the table multiple times in the final minutes to get the clock right, they didn't review the call. They appeared to determine in the moment that Texas A&M never had control of the ball in the frontcourt, so the player could cross over without violation.
Here is the video & my take:
There is no team control on the initial contact of the ball. I believe team control is established when the A&M player attempts to dribble the ball while still in the front court. She then crosses into backcourt.
— Kim Adams (@Kim_Adams1) March 23, 2021
Troy would have had the ball back with about two seconds on the clock and would have had a chance at the historic upset. The Trojans could have easily gotten a shot off with their quick pace of play they used to control much of the game. The Aggies had also just fouled on a 3-point play seconds prior.
Instead Texas A&M's Pitts had two free throws she made.
Troy nearly enters history books
Troy climbed back to a 69-69 tie on a 3-pointer by Janiah Sandifer with seven minutes to play and the race was on. The teams traded small leads, and tied it at 73, 75 and 77 until Aaliyah Wilson's layup for Texas A&M and a free throw by Jordan Nixon.
With 18 seconds still on the clock and trailing by two, 80-78, the Trojans went for a quick 3-pointer on the in-bounds play. It fell well short on an off shooting day from deep. They are one of the nation's best (38.6%) when they do shoot it but were 4-for-23 (17.4%) against Texas A&M.
— NCAA Women’s Basketball (@ncaawbb) March 22, 2021
The Aggies grabbed the defensive rebound and nearly turned it over at the other end. Pitts made all four free throws down the final stretch to keep the win intact. She came off the bench for seven points.
The Trojans were in foul trouble late with three players at four each, but kept up the pace and forced the Aggies into quick shots. Alexus Dye had a game-high 26 points on 12-for-22 shooting with 11 rebounds and three steals. She fouled out in the final minute. Felmas Koranga added 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Texas A&M avoids wrong side of history
The No. 15 seed is now 0-107 all time since the women's tournament expanded in 1994. No. 14 seeds are also winless and only one No. 16 seed has won a tournament game. Wright State's win over Arkansas earlier Monday was the seventh time a No. 13 seed has won a first-round game.
Texas A&M was in contention for a No. 1 seed ahead of Selection Monday. They won their first regular season SEC title in school history with a win over South Carolina, but lost in the conference semifinals to a tough Georgia team that earned a No. 3 seed.
Nixon led the Aggies with 21 points. Ciera Johnson had 16 and 14 rebounds and was quiet offensively late in the game when the team could have leaned on her more heavily.
They move on to the second round to play No. 7 seed Iowa State.
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