No. 2 Texas A&M escaped again. The Aggies are into the Sweet 16 on an overtime buzzer-beating drive by Jordan Nixon to defeat No. 7 Iowa State, 84-82. Nixon also made the tough drive to tie it at the end of regulation and scored seven of the Aggies' nine overtime points.
The overtime period was the first time the Aggies led the entire contest and they trailed by as many as 12 points. It's the second time in as man tournament games the SEC regular season champions have found themselves in a deep hole. They were nearly the first No. 2 seed to be upset by a No. 15 seed in a first round close call against Troy.
Nixon wins it in OT
Nixon came out and drilled a 3-pointer in overtime to get the Aggies going. The following minutes were a frenetic back-and-forth until Nixon's final buckets.
She tied it at 82 with 1:38 remaining and Texas A&M had a chance at an easy lead, but missed the opportunity at a transition basket by pulling up for 3. The defense stood up and held on two stops, the last with five seconds left as Nixon took it the length of the court.
She drove right into the paint and hit it at the buzzer.
Nixon scored a game-high 35 points that also tied Iowa's Caitlin Clark for a 2021 tournament high. Nixon was 16-for-28 from the floor with seven assists, two rebounds, one steal and one block. Her post-game interview with ESPN's Holly Rowe was perfect for March Madness.
Nixon has done this before. She made a running shot with under a minute left earlier this season to lift Texas A&M over a ranked Arkansas squad.
Ciera Johnson scored 19 points for Texas A&M on 8-for-12 shooting and Aaliyah Wilson added 11. N'dea Jones neared a double-double with 14 rebounds, nine points and four blocks. The bench added only three points and two rebounds, all from junior Alex Morris.
Texas A&M forces overtime
The Aggies never took the lead in the fourth quarter, but came within one on a layup by Ciera Johnson with 1:02 left. Ashley Joens, Iowa State's machine down low, answered by working for a tough basket inside and earning the and-1 to push a one-point lead into four with 39 seconds remaining. After an Aggies layup by N'dea Jones, Joens hit two more free throws to keep the pressure on.
Nixon hit a deep jumper to pull Texas A&M within two again with 14 seconds still on the clock and made a tough drive for another with five seconds left that tied it.
The Aggies defense held for three inbound plays to close the game and force additional time. Texas A&M will face No. 3 seed Arizona, which itself came down to the end against No. 11 BYU, in the Sweet 16.
Iowa State controlled contest
The Cyclones controlled the game from the tip and appeared heading to the Sweet 16 with a massive upset in the bracket. The Aggies couldn't contain Ashley Joens and fell behind by 10 early. It was a margin the Cyclones held until late in the fourth quarter.
Joens closed with 32 points, 18 rebounds and three assists. She became the fourth Big 12 player with 30 points and 15 rebounds in a tournament game since 2000. Joens joins Courtney Paris, who did it twice for Oklahoma, and former Baylor stars Brittney Griner and Lauren Cox.
Iowa State built its early lead with six 3-pointers on seven attempts in the first quarter. They were 16-of-30 (53.3%) at games end, out-shooting the team's 35.8% mark on the year. The Cyclones controlled the boards, 50-38, but struggled with 24 turnovers. Those can into play late in the tight contest and included a few shot clock violations and steals when they could have pushed the lead.
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