GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T women's basketball team was looking for redemption on Saturday afternoon at Corbett Sports Center against Bethune-Cookman. They got it.
After seeing a late lead slip away in the final minutes of their January meeting in Daytona Beach, the Aggies never let the Wildcats into Saturday's match-up, defeating the Wildcats 56-31 for their fifth straight victory.
It's the first time the Aggies have held two different opponents to under 35 points in the same season since 1990-91. The Aggies (15-7, 7-2) held the Wildcats (10-11, 5-4) to the fewest points that B-CU has scored all season. Bethune-Cookman had just 10 first-half points.
"I just thought the first half pretty much set the tone in the game," said A&T head coach Tarrell Robinson. "We knew that when we went down to Daytona Beach in early January that we did not play our best game, especially defensively more so than offensively. I thought that holding them to 10 points and obviously 31 for the game pretty much shows again how my team is responding to adversity."
They are also responding to seeing the success that they can achieve in Robinson's program. It takes time for a team to acclimate to the style of play that any new head coach implements, and the hard work they have been putting into skill development and shooting in practice has been paying off with conference wins.
"They're liking the success, so hopefully we can keep it going," said Robinson, explaining that the winning streak has come along with a renewed focus on execution. "I think the games that we dropped in conference play were because we didn't do a good job of following our scouting report and executing. We felt like we could just show up and play, and teams would lay down for us. There's been kind of a refocus and learned lesson. Just because you win a couple of games doesn't mean we start getting lax. We need to work even harder because obviously people are going to be gunning for you."
The Aggies opened up the game on a 12-0 run. It took 10 minutes before B-CU guard Chastity Rene' Taylor finally put the Wildcats on the board with a jumper. Sophomore Jessica Lyons responded with a 3-pointer from the left hand corner, and the Aggies kept building their lead and pulled out in front by 23, 33-10, on a DeAndra Davis 3-pointer before the half.
The Aggies kept the Wildcats on the perimeter and out of the paint, which also helped keep B-CU from effectively scoring. The Wildcats turned the ball over 26 times.
"They had one kid (Taylor) who could really stroke the 3-ball, so we were going to challenge them to shoot the ball and beat us outside versus inside and it worked in our favor," said Robinson. "I know going in that's what we wanted to do-eat the clock and make them figure out how to score from the outside versus the inside. It broke their rhythm."
The Wildcats made just 5 of 24 shots and missed all 10 3-point attempts in the first half. They also made 15 first-half turnovers.
Every A&T player scored in the contest. Berry finished the game with a team-high 17 points. Bursey had nine points and six rebounds, while Ross had seven points, a team-high seven rebounds and five blocks. It was the second straight game in which she had five or more blocks. The Aggies held Taylor, who averages 14.9 points per game, to just four points on 0-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
Shakeyia Colyer led the Wildcats with 12 points.
The Aggies have won four of their last five games by double figures, and their last two by more than 20. The Aggies will host Florida A&M at 6 p.m., on Monday before starting a three-game road trip.
"Now we're one of the top teams, so we've got to expect to get everybody's best game," Robinson said.