SAN ANTONIO -- In the game of the NCAA women's tournament so far, Texas A&M guard Jordan Nixon hit a running, twisting floater as the buzzer sounded to beat Iowa State in overtime, 84-82, and give the Aggies a spot in the Sweet 16.
"The only thing I thought was 'push,'" Nixon said. "Push. Gotta go, gotta get out. As soon as I put the shot up, I knew it was going in. Honestly.
"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," Nixon said. "Put it up is the only thing I thought. Live with the shot, live with the decision. I'm happy it went in."
It capped Nixon's career night -- 35 points on 16-of-28 shooting plus 7 assists -- with the sophomore coming up in one big moment after another as the second-seeded Aggies climbed out of a second-half hole.
"It's always about trust for me," Nixon said. "My teammates wanted to give me the ball, wanted me to make shots. They trusted me to make plays and they trusted me to lead this team."
For Nixon, it was also an emotional game as she quietly had dedicated it to her high school coach, Dave Edwards, an Aggie alum, who died one year and one day ago from COVID-19 at age 48.
"He was one of my biggest fans," Nixon said. "This game was for him."
Iowa State, a 7-seed, built a 12-point second-half lead behind a flurry of long-range shooting from freshman Lexi Donarski and junior Ashley Joens. Joens poured in 32 points plus 18 rebounds and appeared to have sealed a trip to the Sweet 16 for the Cyclones with an and-1 with 39 seconds to play to put Iowa State up four.
Aggie guard N'dea Jones answered quickly with a layup, Jones made two free throws and Nixon answered again with a jumper. A&M trapped the inbound pass and forced a jump ball, opening the door for Nixon to tie the game with a layup with five seconds left.
"Jordan Nixon is a winner. She's so good," A&M coach Gary Blair said. "I still remember two years ago when she came down on her official visit. Sometimes you just get lucky and you know the fit is perfect. When she came in she fit like perfection."
The first lead the Aggies took came in overtime when Nixon opened the extra frame with a 3. It was a grind for Texas A&M as Iowa State beat back every run with an answer. But Nixon had more answers, hitting pull-up jumpers in big spots to keep A&M within striking distance to set up the buzzer-beating runner.
"Jordan has that moment in her. She wants the moment," Blair said. "That was probably the shot heard all over the state of Texas. I hope everybody was watching that one."
Down the stretch, the intensity flared in the Alamodome and despite the vast emptiness of the massive arena, the small crowd of family members were raucous. They heckled officials, chanted and cheered, stomped and clapped. It made for a memorable environment despite the COVID-19 protocols preventing a traditional tourney atmosphere.
"It was a phenomenal college basketball game," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said.
After the shot dropped in, right before her teammates swarmed her for a dogpile, Nixon stood almost motionless, taking in the scene and trying to snapshot the memory.
"I was savoring the moment. In this age, in this time, we're always thinking about the next thing, always looking forward," she said, "but 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, really good team, down to 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."
The Aggies will play No. 3 seed Arizona on Saturday.
"We need about two weeks off," Blair joked, "and then we'll come back and play."