The Iowa State women’s basketball team was well on its way to some school history Wednesday night. The Cyclones were just one quarter away from advancing to their sixth Sweet 16 and first since 2010. All the Cyclones had to do was hold on to a large lead in the final 10 minutes.
Instead, Iowa State let a late lead and a return to the Sweet 16 slip away.
Jordan Nixon’s layup at the buzzer gave second-seeded Texas A&M a dramatic 84-82 overtime victory over No. 7 Iowa State in a women’s NCAA Tournament game at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Iowa State got 32 points and 18 rebounds from Ashley Joens. The Cyclones poured in 16 3-pointers and led nearly the entire game. After building a 35-30 lead at halftime, Iowa State’s lead grew to as many as 12 when Lexi Donarski hit a 3-pointer with 1 minute and 47 seconds left in the third quarter to give Iowa State a 56-44 lead.
Texas A&M clawed back and used an explosive fourth quarter to get back into the game. The Aggies outscored the Cyclones 27-18 in the final quarter to force overtime.
A jumper by Nixon to cut Iowa State’s lead to 75-73. Another layup by Nixon, who finished with a career-high 35 points, tied the score 75-75 with five seconds remaining. Iowa State’s final two shots by Joens at the end of regulation didn’t go in, forcing overtime.
Then Nixon came up with the heroics.
“You’re just trying to keep the ball in front of you and she’s a really hard kid to keep in front,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “We didn’t do a very good job of it obviously all night, and she made a great play, a great play.”
Nixon scored seven of Texas A&M’s nine points in OT, pushing the Aggies (25-2) into the Sweet 16 for the third straight NCAA Tournament.
“It’s always extremely surreal when you set a standard for yourself or you challenge yourself to rise to an occasion and you actually do it,” she said.
Added Texas A&M coach Gary Blair: “That was a championship performance. … Jordan Nixon is a winner.”
Texas A&M will take on No. 3 Arizona in the Sweet 16.
Contributing: Associated Press
Tommy Birch, the Des MOines Register’s sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He’s the 2018 and 2020 Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Reach him at [email protected] or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.