RICHMOND-The North Carolina A&T women's basketball team battled hard in the second half of a matinee against Richmond at the Robins Center on Wednesday, but saw their winning streak end at three games with a 76-63 loss to the Spiders.
The Aggies (3-3) outscored the Spiders (4-4) in the second half with 60 percent shooting, but it wasn't enough to overcome their 22-point halftime deficit.
"I just wish the team that showed up in the second half got the game started in the first like that. I thought after going into halftime, I challenged them to be better then who they were in the first half, I think they responded," said A&T head coach Tarrell Robinson. "I just told them I can walk away proud if we can grow from this and understand that it goes back to the effort and the little things that you take care of in practice. We'll see the results when we practice again and the results of the next game to see if we're moving forward."
Senior JaQuayla Berry came off the bench to lead the team with 19 points and three steals, including 15 second-half points. Sophomore Adriana Nazario and redshirt junior Amber Calvin each provided 11 points for the Aggies. It was the first game this season that the Aggies have had three players score in double figures.
A jumper from Berry made it 65-48 with 7:25 left in the game. A free throw by Gorham cut the Richmond lead to 15 points, and then Calvin hit the 3-pointer to make it a 65-53 game with 5:22 left. It was the closest they had been since it was 31-19 with 5:32 remaining in the first half.
Three minutes later, Nazario cut the deficit to 10 with two free throws. The Aggies remained behind by 10 with 1:32 remaining. Bilney collected her fourth 3-pointer of the game with a minute left to give Richmond a commanding 74-61.
Berry went 6-for-8 from the floor and 3-for-4 from the line to help propel the Aggies' resurgence in the second half. Robinson was pleased with her second half leadership, but said he's looking for more from his preseason All-MEAC first team selection.
"I know that's the type of JaQuayla Berry that we can get night in and night out, and we hadn't gotten it in our first five games," Robinson said, adding that he started Tiffanie Adair in Berry's place to give Berry the motivation she needed to perform at a higher level. "I just told her that I appreciate her stepping up, but still there's more she can do. I know she can, and I plan to get it out of her. I'm proud of the way she performed in the second half."
The Aggies struggled in the first half to find their offensive rhythm, making just 28 percent of their shots. The Spiders collected 19 points off of 14 A&T turnovers, and had 10 steals to pressure the Aggies. The Aggies shot just 3-for-18 in the first nine minutes of the contest. The Spiders then went on an 8-0 run in the next two minutes to gain a 20-point lead.
The Aggies will open up conference competition against their archrival N.C. Central on Saturday at 2 p.m., at Corbett Sports Center. Robinson said he is eager to get his team off to a strong start against the Eagles and to put two halves together in the game. But more than that, he's look to put a crooked number in the team's conference win column.
"It's the first conference game and we want to start out the conference 1-0. That's our goal, to win a championship," he said. "I'm sure we'll have energy-Central is a rivalry game. So I'm sure they'll be ready for that, and we'll be prepared as well."