SAVANNAH, Ga. (February 12, 2018) – North Carolina A&T may have another scorer emerging in their quest to win another Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament title in junior center Charnise Tyler. On Monday, Tyler came off the bench to score 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting as the Aggies improved to 5-0 on the road in MEAC play with a 69-44 win over Savannah State at Tiger Arena.
“Now we have a legitimate secondary post presence who can score when (starting center) Alexus Lessears gets into foul trouble,” said Robinson who saw his team improve to 15-8 overall and 10-1 in the MEAC. “Le’on Hill did a great job at (center) until Charnise came back. But now it’s great to have Neesie back because we can move Le’on back to her natural position at (power forward), and it gives us great depth inside.”
Tyler sustained a season-ending ACL injury on Jan. 21, 2017 in a home game against Howard. Before being injured, Tyler was an adequate backup to Lessears, averaging 6.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 18 games played during the 2016-17 season. Robinson, trusting his trainer Janah Fletcher, let Tyler return to game action at her own pace after her rehab was completed. He also had to trust Tyler’s judgement.
“We also based (her return) on her confidence,” said Robinson. “During the process of trying to return from an ACL injury, there are moments when you don’t know if you can make it back.”
Robinson told Tyler if he plays her it’s because he needs her and her team needs her. But ultimately the decision was Tyler’s. Tyler returned on Jan. 27, 2018, a full year after her injury as she played two minutes against North Carolina Central. Before Monday, the longest Tyler had played during her comeback was seven minutes. Against the Tigers, she played 19 minutes.
“We'll see how she feels tomorrow. That’s the most she has played since being back, so we'll see how her body feels,” said Robinson.
Before Tyler made her first appearance on Monday, the Aggies were already leading 10-2 with 4:29 remaining in the first quarter as the Aggies knocked down four of their first eight shots. Tyler’s first field goal came at the end of the first when she took a pass from Quenswayla Story and scored on a layup to help the Aggies end the quarter with a 19-8 lead. N.C. A&T made 7 of 11 shots (63.6 percent) in the opening quarter.
“We shot the ball well this weekend,” said Robinson, also referring to the Aggies win at S.C. State Saturday. “Our young ladies had their legs and it showed. We got cold for a while in the second half, but getting off to a fast start when you’re on the road is huge.”
The Aggies shot 45 percent in the second quarter and grew their lead to as many as 14, 23-9, before the Tigers behind the play of Kaylee Allen started to rally. Allen scored all eight points during an 8-2 SSU run to cut the Aggies lead to 25-17. The Tigers got to within three, 31-28, on a Jacqueline Anderson 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining in the first half.
But Tyler scored in the post and Story ended the half with a jump shot from the free throw line to send the Aggies into the locker room with a 35-28 lead. As is customary in N.C. A&T women’s basketball games, the defense took over in the second half. N.C. A&T held SSU to five second-half field goals. The Aggies, who came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in turnovers forced, saw SSU turn it over 21 times in the game. An Anderson turnover led to a 3-point play from C’Coriea Foy to give the Aggies a 46-33 lead. The Tigers scored the next four points but freshman Morgan Batie scored four of the Aggies six points to end the third on a 6-1 run to help the Aggies go into the fourth quarter with a 52-38 lead.
Senior Kala Green led the charge in putting the Tigers away. Her second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter gave the Aggies a 58-42 lead with 5:20 to play. Her assists to Lessears for a layup put the Aggies up 20 with 2 ½ minutes remaining.
“We know what’s on the line at this point in the season,” said Robinson. “The team with the greatest will is going to have the best outcome. We just have to do the thing we pride ourselves on, defending. Hopefully along the way we’ll knock down some shots. When we get off to good starts offensively, it puts us in a good position because our defense has been so good.”
Foy joined Tyler in double figures with 13 points and Green had 12. N.C. A&T, who is already guaranteed to have its 11th winning season in 13 years, will host Howard for Senior Day 2 p.m., Saturday at Corbett Sports Center. The Aggies have also posted double-digit conference wins 11 times in the past 13 seasons.