GREENSBORO (November 10, 2017) – North Carolina A&T unleashed a stifling defense toward the end of the third quarter and well into the fourth quarter. Sophomores Cinia McCray and C’Coriea Foy started being themselves around that same time as N.C. A&T came away with a 60-49 season-opening women’s basketball win at Corbett Sports Center Friday night.
McCray tied a career high with 16 points and added a career-high six rebounds. In her debut as an Aggie after transferring from Alabama and sitting out a year, Foy had 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor. Sophomore Shantell Bostick contributed 10 points, six rebounds and four assists, while another sophomore, Alexus Lessears, had a game-high 11 rebounds.
McCray and Foy did most of their damage in the third quarter. Foy had seven points in the quarter, while McCray finished Coupled with the Aggies (1-0) defensive effort, it was too much for the Eagles (0-1) to overcome.
“(Foy and McCray) are scorers, both have a scorer's mentality and both are playmakers,” said N.C. A&T coach Tarrell Robinson after earning his 100th career coaching victory. “We look for them to do that. So that's nothing new for us in terms of what we believe they can bring to this team in order for us to be at our best.”
Bostick is also a pleasant surprise for Robinson, however.
“Shantell surprises me because the stuff she does in games, I don't see in practice,” he said. “She has a tremendous amount of heart and a tremendous amount of character, so we believe the best is yet to come. She didn't play much last year, she had to sit on that bench and learn the game. Now she is making things happen four us statistically.”
It was a good thing the sophomores got going because until that point, the Eagles had led by as many as 11 in the first half and they led by 11 as late as the 6:49 mark of the third quarter. But Foy whipped a pass over to McCray for a three and Foy followed that effort by taking a bounce pass from senior Kala Green to cut the lead to 39-33. The Aggies thrived from there.
After two Trell English-Lurry free throws gave GSU a 43-35 lead, Bostick hit four consecutive free throws to cut the lead down to four. Alexis Foulks’ jump shot pushed the lead out to six before Foy netted a 3-pointer from the corner to get the GSU lead down to three. Green then took a pass from Foy and dropped another three to send the Aggies into the fourth quarter tied at 45.
“I think we were just nervous. It was our first time playing in front of a crowd after two closed scrimmages,” said Robinson. “It was just a matter of removing those jitters and waking up. In the second half, we started defending and then our shots started falling.”
N.C. A&T’s defense held the Eagles scoreless for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. Add that to the nearly two minutes GSU went scoreless to close out the third quarter, and the Aggies were able to build a 55-45 lead over the Eagles on a Lessears layup with 5:08 remaining in the game. GSU tried to rally as Rhein Beamon hit two free throws and Jakayvea Akins hit a runner in the lane to get to within six. But McCray ended the Eagles hopes with her third 3-pointer of the night to give N.C. A&T a 58-49 lead with 1:55 remaining in the game.
It was the Aggies first season-opening win in three years.
“We talked about tempo because we felt we were more athletic than they were,” said Robinson. “We felt like playing fast would be to our advantage. It just took one or two people to get us going. I thought Foy, Bostick, Green and McCary speeding things up changed the whole entire game.”
Beamon led the Aggies with 13 points and six rebounds. N.C. A&T will take on defending Colonial Athletic Association champion Elon, 5:30 p.m., Monday at Corbett Sports Center.