NORFOLK, Va. – A&T guard Debbie Smith missed a 3-point shot with 8.1 seconds remaining. Christina Carter missed the follow-up as second-seeded North Carolina A&T dropped a 57-55 decision to No. 3 Coppin State Friday afternoon in the 2014 MEAC Women's Basketball Championship Tournament at Score Arena.
Redshirt sophomore Eboni Ross tied the game at 55 with 52 seconds remaining but Larissa Carter hit the game-winning shot, a jumper with 28 seconds left to help the Eagles (17-13) advance to the MEAC title game against No. 1 Hampton, the four-time defending champions.
Despite the loss, the Aggies could still find themselves in the WNIT for the fourth time in six seasons.
If Hampton wins Saturday, the Aggies will get the MEAC's automatic bid by virtue of being the second-place team in the conference. If Coppin State wins, Hampton would take the conference's automatic bid as the regular-season champion, but the Aggies' stellar regular season could warrant them getting an at-large bid from the WNIT after winning two preseason WNIT games in November.
“It was a good game,” head coach Tarrell Robinson said about the Aggies loss on Saturday. “It just came down to who wanted it more. Coach Derek Brown is one of the best coaches in this league, and he did a good job of managing the game and his girls did a good job of staying in it.”
After taking a 31-25 lead at the half, the Aggies (24-6) used a 10-5 run to push its advantage to 41-30 at the 16:07 mark. A&T’s offense went cold soon after, and the Eagles capitalized on an 8-0 run to trail the Aggies 41-38 with 12:50 left.
“When we were up by 11 I don’t think we did a good job as a team collectively as far as working the clock, and stretching the game out and they took advantage of it,” Robinson explained. “We had some clean looks but we just didn’t take advantage of it.”
The Aggies turned the ball over seven times over the next five minutes as CSU took its first lead of the half, 44-43, with seven minutes to play. After both teams continued to trade baskets, senior Tracy King nailed a 3-pointer to give A&T the 51-48 edge at the 4:11 mark. The Eagles scored their next five buckets at the free throw line to take the 53-51 advantage.
Senior DeAndra Davis answered with a jumper in the paint from Smith to tie the game at 53 with 2:45 left. But the Aggies were unable to connect on any shots for nearly two minutes until Ross tied the game with just under a minute remaining.
King led A&T with 12 points and four assists while Davis added 11 points and six rebounds. Redshirt sophomores Christina Cater and Aprill McRae finished with eight points each.
The Aggies who were shooting 31.6 percent from behind the arc this season, were held to a season-low 11.8 percent (2-for-17) outing on Friday.
Kyra Coleman led all scorers with 17 points and finished with a game-high five assists. Janelle Lane finished with a game-high eight rebounds.