Texas A&M's Courtney Walker (33) shoots over Duke 's Oderah Chidom (22) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Pat Sullivan
November 30, 2014

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M coach Gary Blair can thank his team and the home crowd for rallying past No. 8 Duke.

More than 6,000 fans rose to their feet and cheered on multiple occasions while the No. 7 Aggies scratched back from a 15-point deficit midway through the second half.

''A crowd can sense they're a part of the game,'' Blair said.

Despite playing without All-American senior Elizabeth Williams (injured foot), Duke appeared poised to put away the Aggies for good in leading 45-30 with 11:36 remaining.

But A&M (7-0) stuck to its game plan of relentless defense and an equally intense fastbreak to go on a 19-4 run and tie it 49-all. The teams briefly traded leads before A&M finally went up for good 57-55 with 3:59 remaining.

''We just don't give up,'' Blair said. ''These players take tough love, and they take hard coaching. And that's what I was having to do.''

Courtney Williams scored 21 points for the Aggies. Her jumper from the right side of the free-throw line lifted A&M to a 61-57 lead over Duke (5-1) with 1:15 remaining. Williams, who missed the first four games because of a team rule violation, had 12 points in the second half.

''Now that she's back, we have a flow,'' Texas A&M guard Jordan Jones said. ''You can tell the team has chemistry, and we're very comfortable with each other.''

Duke freshman Rebecca Greenwell notched a game-high 23 points, the only Blue Devil to score in double figures in every game this season. Azura Stevens had 15 points on 7 of 12 shooting.

Texas A&M's Courtney Walker had 19 points, and Jones had 12 points and seven rebounds. Blair dubbed Jones the most valuable player for her eight assist and no turnovers in 36 minutes of directing teammates on both ends of the court.

Jones said the Aggies never panicked.

''We just stayed positive,'' she said. ''We knew (the Blue Devils') strength was their size, and our strengths were speed and athleticism.''

The Aggies outscored the Blue Devils 18-0 on fast-break points.

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie was frustrated afterward by what she dubbed an ''extremely physical'' game, a line she repeated for emphasis.

''We just played a game where people got run over and it wasn't a foul,'' McCallie said.

Blair said McCallie is allowed to ''vent'' all she liked and added both coaches were on the officials throughout the game.

Duke's Greenwell finished 7 of 19 from the field with five rebounds.

''In the first half we did a really good job of controlling the tempo,'' Greenwell. ''But once they started coming back and the crowd started getting into it, we got a little wired up when we just needed to maintain our composure. Overall, we just didn't come out in the second half ready to go.''

As for the physicality? Texas A&M's Walker said she enjoyed it.

''I feel like it was really physical, and I was OK with that,'' said Walker, smiling.

TIP-INS:

Williams watched from the sideline with her injured left foot, and McCallie declined to elaborate on the injury after the game. Williams had started 72 consecutive games and played in all 109 of her games with Duke.

''That was tough, but we had the game in our hands, and just threw it away in the end,'' Greenwell said. ''We can't use (Williams' absence) as an excuse at all.''

SERIES:

The Aggies lead the series 4-1. Blair says of Williams, it hurts ''When you take a top-three draft choice out of the lineup, that makes a difference.''

UP NEXT:

A&M hosts Northwestern State on Wednesday.

Duke plays at Nebraska on Wednesday.

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