By Rachel DeSantis
Updated November 18, 2016 at 07:31 PM EST
Credit: Lisette M. Azar/CBS
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Up until this week, Danielle Lickey was the only contestant to survive America’s nomination on Big Brother: Over the Top. Though she didn’t exactly have an easy go-round in the Big Brother house (she dealt with bullies and the break-up of a showmance, among other things), she proved herself as a competition beast, and carried her Late Night Jamboree alliance members deep into the game.

Here, the 23-year-old preschool teacher from California breaks down her gameplay, and gives an update on the showmance that was gone too soon.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you think went wrong?

DANIELLE: Honestly, competition wins. We needed to pull out that HOH win this past week and it didn’t happen, and then we needed that Veto win, and that didn’t happen. America handed us Morgan on a silver platter and we couldn’t deliver. So I definitely think that was probably my biggest downfall.

What would you have done differently, besides win competitions? I feel like you were the one winning the competitions in your alliance. Did you ever get to a point where you were like, ‘Hmm, I wish maybe some of my teammates could help me out a little bit here?’

You know what, I don’t. Jason won two vetoes, Kryssie won an HOH — I feel like they both did their part. If anybody, I really feel like Justin should’ve stepped up a lot more and won competitions. There were rumors that he was throwing comps, and if that’s true, it’s really disheartening because the rest of my alliance definitely did a lot of work. But no, I never felt like that. I’m a very competitive person at heart, and so I knew that my strengths would be winning competitions. I knew that I wasn’t going to have a very good social game, and so what I had to contribute to my alliance was the fact that I was going to be able to win competitions, and I aligned myself with people who had strong social games for that specific reason.

You told Julie that Justin targeted you over Jason because he didn’t feel like he could trust you. Why do you think that was? And what do you think it was about Jason that Justin felt like he could trust more?

That’s a really good question. I’m not sure why he felt like he could trust Jason more than me. I’m not really sure how his conversation went with Shelby last week, or what she told him, but if I was her target, I would not be surprised if she tried to convince him to have less trust in me than in Jason. But I’m not really sure. You would think that he would trust me the most out of the group because I’m the one who saved him in the double eviction when Shelby and Morgan were gunning so hard for him to go home. At the end of the day, that was his choice, and I respect that because I really want to see Jason do well. So his not trusting me kind of pushed Jason forward, and I just hope that they can stay aligned throughout the rest of the game.

You went through a lot in this house. You had to endure a lot of bullying from Scott pretty early on in the game. What was that like for you? He claimed it was part of his strategy, but there’s no way that doesn’t feel personal…

No, not at all. I don’t respect that strategy. There’s no doubt that I was very vocal about that. I don’t agree with bullying at all. I was bullied my whole life growing up, so it has a really soft spot in my heart. For someone to say that he’ll make my life a short-lived hell, to me that’s just so rude, and whether it was game or whether it was personal, those things I really don’t respect. We were able to put it aside and play the game and I was able to leave him on a good note, but in that moment, I felt like he was attacking me personally and it was kind of upsetting.

You’ve been watching Big Brother since you were 10, and in all those years, have you ever seen a house so divided? Why do you think the tensions between both sides are so strong, and are you surprised that it’s lasted this far into the game?

I am actually very, very surprised. I definitely thought that we would mix somewhere around the middle, but I think that it stayed so divided because both sides of the house’s strongest players stayed very, very long. I feel like loyalty was such a big part of this game this year, and that typically isn’t the case for Big Brother. Typically, you have people who are like, ‘Yeah, loyalty, alliances!’ But the alliance will last a week or two and then people are turning on each other. I feel like in this house, the other side of the house kind of just cut everyone else out and ignored them and didn’t even really give us a chance to see what we are capable of. They kind of wrote us all off early on, and that really made our alliance closer. I also think that because Morgan and Alex were sisters, that’s probably why that side of the house were so tight-knit. I was just really surprised that people weren’t willing to break off and make more alliances, myself included, and shake it up a little bit.

Tell me a little bit about that fake alliance you made last week with Jason, Shelby, and Morgan. What were you trying to accomplish with that? And do you think it hurt your credibility with them in the long run?

It definitely backfired, definitely hurt my credibility, because up until that point, I was able to say that I had never broken my word to anyone. I don’t regret it, because you can’t really play Big Brother with any regrets, but looking back on it, it was definitely not a very smart choice on mine and Jasons’ part. They had been telling us all season that they were going to do one thing and then they did another, and so we just kind of wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine. Our funny joke or prank kind of backfired on our game, and I think it did hurt my credibility, but at the end of the day, like I said, you can’t play Big Brother with any regrets. It was worth it to see the reaction, especially when Morgan tried to call out Jason in front of the entire house and he was just like, “Everybody knows.” It was pretty great.

What would have been your next move if you’d stayed this week?

I definitely would’ve tried to win HOH — shocker. If I did, I would’ve put up Shelby and Justin against each other. They’re both really big threats, whichever one would’ve gone, I would’ve been completely happy with it. And maybe in that, made a deal with Shelby to keep her safe over Justin, and work with her going through the game because I did see her as a strong player.

Even though Justin was sort of on your side, you would’ve wanted him to go before Morgan.

Yes, only because I am not threatened by Morgan at all. She only won one competition, and that was only when her neck was on the line. She hasn’t really been a big strategic player from what I’ve seen. So if she were to float all the way to the end, I feel like I would’ve been able to beat her, so I definitely wanted to send Justin before her because Justin’s social game is very good and he has proven to me that he’s not really completely loyal to our alliance.

Who do you think has the best chance to win?

I would say, if they play their game right, Jason, but I’m kind of biased because I love him, and he’s one of my best friends in the house. Other than him, I would say Shelby. She started playing a very, very good game right at the moment when she needed to the most and I think that America really likes her as a player. I think that if she’s at the final three, it’s definitely going to be very difficult for whoever is there to beat her.

What was it like for you being in the house knowing that an event as big as the election was happening on the outside of the house?

Elections are big whenever they come around, but this one was so important and so big for our country, that it was weird to be in the house. And I really didn’t think that we were going to get to find out who was president, but it was weird to not be able to make your voice heard in such a big election. So for the next four years, all of us in the house are gonna be like, ‘Well we didn’t have a say so in any of this.’ We were in confinement pretty much, so it was just weird that we didn’t get to partake in something so big in our country. But I’m very happy that Big Brother told us who won [because] it helped us realize there’s still the real world outside. And it brought us together in a way, and I was happy about that.

When I spoke to Shane, he told me that you were thinking about moving to North Carolina. Is that still in the cards?

That is actually very true. I have wanted to move to North Carolina for about two years now. If you ask my family, they’ll tell you, I have been obsessed with North Carolina for a very long time, and so meeting Shane was just icing on the cake. I was kind of scared to be like, ‘Oh I don’t know anyone in North Carolina,’ and now I have ties to someone there, and so maybe in the near future I’ll take that opportunity to move out there. I’ve been talking about Shane nonstop in the Big Brother house, and I’m very, very excited to talk to him, and see how he’s been doing. I was very close to him, so I’m very excited to see if he’s proud of how I played and all that fun stuff.

For more Big Brother: Over the Top, be sure to read our week 7 recap and stay tuned for our interview with Julie Chen.

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