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Jordan Nixon wills A&M to third consecutive Sweet 16

Womens+Basketball
Courtesy of 2021 NCAA Photos
Women’s Basketball

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — As the popular Aggieland saying goes, “The Aggies don’t lose, they simply run out of time.”
But running out of time in regulation didn’t faze the No. 2 seed Texas A&M women’s basketball team as the Aggies mounted a late comeback effort to force an 84-82 win in overtime against seventh-seed Iowa State.
With her third game-winning bucket of the season, sophomore guard Jordan Nixon clinched the win for the Aggies to send them to their third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance and ninth in program history.
“I caught the rebound — ‘Go’ was all I heard,” Nixon said. “Once I saw daylight, I didn’t think I had enough time to do anything. But my teammates ran the floor and I just had to put it up. ‘Put it up’ was the only thing I thought, live with the decision, live with the shot. I’m so happy it went in.”
Though she was the one who ended the game with the buzzer beater, Nixon said each of her teammates have the potential to be the Aggies’ clutch player on any given day.
“As soon as I put the shot up, I knew it was going in,” Nixon said. “In those moments, it didn’t matter who made the shot. It could have been [Aaliyah Wilson], it could have been [Destiny Pitts]. I was ready to kick it, but [Pitts] didn’t step up, didn’t stop me so I took it and we got the outcome that we did.”
A&M coach Gary Blair said no matter how many shots Nixon misses in a game, he will always have faith in her when it comes to the big moments.
“Jordan has that moment in her. She wants the moment,” Blair said. “Very few athletes want that — can they afford the miss? A couple times in the first half after she’d miss one and then pass up a second one, I’d say, ‘Uh uh, any time you’re open, it’s green light.’”
As her game-winning shot passed through the net to the hardwood below, Nixon paused. As cheers erupted around her in the near-empty Alamodome South Court, as her teammates encircled her in celebration, she paused.
“I was savoring the moment,” Nixon said. “In this age, in this time, we’re always thinking about the next thing or always looking forward to, ‘This is what I have next, this is what’s coming.’ That moment, when I stopped, that was me taking it in. We’re going to the Sweet 16, we just clawed back against a really good team, down the wire. These are the moments. These are the moments you remember with your teammates. We’re always going to remember this day, this year and this tournament.”
Nixon led the Aggies’ late comeback effort, tying the score at 75 with six seconds left on back-to-back buckets, forcing the game into overtime. The sophomore transfer from Notre Dame finished the game with a career-high 35 points, shooting 16-of-28 from the floor, including 2-of-7 from three. Her previous career-high came in the first round of the tournament, when she put up 21 points against Troy.
While most of the game had been dominated by Iowa State’s three-point shooting, the Aggies displayed the cool confidence they’ve become known for.
Nixon gave A&M its first lead of the game to open overtime with her second three-pointer of the night, the Aggies’ fourth of the game.
Though the game went back-and-forth for the five extra minutes, Nixon closed the game with two back-to-back layups in the typical closer fashion she’s become known for.
Nixon said she dedicates Wednesday’s win to former A&M men’s basketball player David Edwards, who was her coach in her home state of New York. Edwards passed away from COVID-19 on March 23, 2020.
“Today was for him,” Nixon said. “I didn’t tell anybody — I just wanted to win the game. It didn’t matter how it happened. There was a little something in me that wanted to do something for him, to dedicate to him for his memory. It’s always extremely surreal when you set a standard for yourself or you challenge yourself to rise to an occasion and actually do it … I can just hear him in my head. He was one of my biggest fans. This game is for him.”
After closing Iowa State’s early lead to five points by halftime, the Aggies were unable to take control of the game in the third as the Cyclones’ deep shots kept falling to stretch A&M’s deficit back to double-digits.
Iowa State entered the game fifth in the nation from three-point range, making 35.8 percent of their attempts, and hurt the Aggies early with a pair of deep shots to open the game. A flurry of three-pointers in the first and third quarters kept Iowa State in the lead — one they would keep for over 40 minutes of the game.
The Cyclones finished the game 16-of-30 for 53.3 percent from behind the arc.
While Iowa State was relentless from the three-point line, the Aggies put together their worst performance from three since going 0-of-4 against Georgia on Jan. 4. Against the Cyclones, A&M was 4-of-19 from beyond the arc for 21.1 percent.
The Cyclones’ junior guard Ashley Joens, who entered the game averaging 23.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, provided a challenge for the Aggies. Though A&M held her to just three points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field in the first quarter, Joens found her groove after the second, finishing the game 9-of-23 with 32 points and 18 rebounds, including a 10-point performance in the fourth quarter.
The Cyclones were dominant early, going 6-of-7 from three in the first quarter and shooting 85.7 percent of their three-point attempts to keep A&M at bay.
Freshman guard Aubrey Joens hit the Cyclones’ sixth three of the game as the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter, giving Iowa State a 22-12 lead heading into the second.
A&M’s defense woke up in the second quarter as the Aggies faced a 10-point deficit, limiting the Cyclones to 40 percent from three-point range before halftime.
Nixon tried to spark something for the Aggies with their first three-pointer of the game to start the second quarter, and it almost worked as she contributed four more points on a 6-0 run to put the Aggies within three. However, Iowa State answered with an 11-3 run to climb back to a double-digit lead. Nixon went 6-of-12 for 14 points in the second frame to put A&M within five going into the half down 35-30.
While the Cyclones’ were hot from beyond the arc, the Aggies couldn’t get much going from three, finishing the first half just 1-of-7.
Each time the Aggies managed to find some momentum on the night, Iowa State used its consistent three-point shooting to keep the game just out of reach until the final minutes, but Nixon said the challenge they faced was familiar for her team.
“Adversity is nothing new to us,” Nixon said. “This entire year, if only you guys knew. It’s just who we are. We fight, never say die. At no point do we get down on ourselves. Do we have some breakdowns? 100 percent. Is Iowa State a great team? 100 percent. But we know who we are, we know what we can do, and we just stuck with our game plan and we dug deep. We made plays when we needed them. That’s who we are, that’s who we’ve been all year. Big moment, gotta step up, gotta play together.”
Blair said the win proved the grit this A&M team possesses.
“I can’t say enough about this basketball team and the individual performance that Nixon just had, but our kids were fighting and clawing,” Blair said. “Our kids had to keep finding ways. When we’d get back in it in the third quarter, then they would hit a three and we’d have to fight and claw again to get back in it.”
As Iowa State limited Nixon to six points in the third quarter, senior center Ciera Johnson stepped up for the Aggies, contributing half of A&M’s 18 points in the quarter.
Trailing by nine at the start of the fourth quarter, Alexis Morris attempted to make something happen with A&M’s second three-pointer of the night, which kicked off a 6-0 run for the Aggies.
Desperate to hold onto the late momentum, A&M kept Iowa State’s lead at single-digits through the end of regulation, as Nixon put up eight fourth quarter points to lead the comeback effort that tied the game with five seconds remaining.
A&M’s defense held Iowa State to seven points in overtime, allowing just one successful three-point attempt in the five minutes. Ashley Joens put up just two points on a pair of free throws in the extra quarter.
Nixon led the Aggies to close out the game, putting up seven points on 3-of-6 shooting and laying in the game-winner in the paint.
A&M will face No. 3 seed Arizona at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 27.
“People have doubted us all year,” Blair said. “Yeah, they’ve given us credit. ‘Yeah, you won the SEC, but are you really that good?’ We’re not sure how good we are, but we know we’re good every night at giving you the energy and giving you entertainment.”
With all the emotions that came with Wednesday’s win, Nixon said she is feeling one most of all: gratitude.
“We’ve worked so hard this year,” Nixon said. “We clawed back in this game, we worked so hard in this game. We didn’t want to go home tonight. I’m glad we’re still dancing.”

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