Overtime loss to Texas A&M good lesson for youthful Blue Devils squad

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DURHAM, N.C. – An overtime loss always stings.

That’s what the 14th-ranked Duke Blue Devils felt when they faltered and didn’t score points when they needed to and suffered a 72-66 loss to No. 12 Texas A&M at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.

Even while Rebecca Greenwell finished with 22 points and six rebounds, Azura Stevens posted her 12th career double-double (12 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks), and Angela Salvadores put up 11 points in 18 minutes, it wasn’t enough.

It was a formidable effort that showed in addition to Salvadores, that freshmen Kyra Lambert (8 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds) and Crystal Primm (4 points, 4 rebounds), who both started, could and did make plays.

Early on, it looked as though Duke (2-1) was on track to earn the win, but committing seven turnovers in seven minutes, 13 by halftime, and 20 overall, didn’t help.

Not against a team with two senior All-Americans.

Courtney Walker eventually posted a double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds), and Jordan Jones finished with 14 points and five rebounds while playing in front of family in the stands in Duke men’s basketball player Matt Jones, her brother.

Duke’s 40-percent shooting performance from the field slightly bettered the Aggies’ 36 percent, but getting slightly outrebounded 49-44, particularly when it counted, made the albeit slight difference of who won and who lost down the stretch.

“It was a great basketball game, good quality,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

“It was like an NCAA [Tournament] game, which is good. It’s pretty obvious what happened: offensive rebounds and turnovers. It’s pretty obvious that was a bad point for us. You see them shooting worse than we did from the floor, but that doesn’t matter if you’re going to go get the rebound. There are good lessons for us as a team, the obvious ones, boxing out, not getting offensive rebounds, getting to the free throw line more than 18 times, not turning the ball over 20 times.”

Duke led 21-16 after the first quarter, but Texas A&M (3-0) stayed close and claimed a 31-30 lead at halftime.

Walker and Jones gave Duke everything it had in front of 3,708 in attendance, particularly during the second half.

It started much like the first, as A&M started quickly with a jumper by Walker.

Odera Chidom (9 points, 3 rebounds) answered back just as quickly for Duke.

However, missed shots by Lambert and Stevens were costly as Walker continued to be the difference-maker.

She and Jones orchestrated a 10-2 run that put the Aggies ahead 41-32 barely two minutes into the third quarter.

Duke focused on driving the lane to earn free throws and chipped away at the Aggies lead.

However, after Greenwell dropped two from the line, Khaalia Hillsman scored underneath at the other end of the floor and extended the A&M lead to 11.

Stevens, Salvadores, and Chidom provided offense to keep pace and the Blue Devils cut their deficit down to five points, trailing 52-47 to begin the final quarter of regulation play.

Duke managed to eventually tie the game and took the lead late.

Stevens put one up off the glass and pulled Duke to within two – 52-50.

Chidom took a charge and Lambert blazed through the paint aggressively on the possession and earned free throws.

Duke still trailed by two.

The Aggies missed and Salvadores stopped and popped and evened the score 54-54 at the 7:23 mark.

Jones then dropped a three which was matched by Primm’s layup, closely following a Chidom free throw.

The score was tied at 57-57 with under five minutes to play.

Both teams continued to trade baskets and the lead.

It was at that point, as the Blue Devils held a 63-61 advantage with 1:38 remaining, that their shooting hands started to cool.

Duke couldn’t get a shot to drop.

Greenwell’s jumper hit the iron and A&M had the chance to tie it, and took it with Hillman scoring the tying basket.

With the clock counting down, the ball was in Stevens’ hands.

Her game-winning shot attempt didn’t make it, and it was on to overtime.

From there, it was a simple game to play and earn the win.

The Aggies claimed it with two three’s, one from the field, and a free throw while Duke went 1-for-9 in the overtime period.

Just not enough to win, but a lot to learn from.

“There are just very, very good lessons for us,” McCallie concluded.

“I thought that we fought hard. There was certainly a time there that we fought very hard, but the reality is that is how you have to play in the game the entire game, not just when you’re trying to come back. Hopefully, we’ll understand what that feels like, that intensity that we showed when we came back from 10 points down.”