GREENVILLE (November 26, 2017) – North Carolina A&T’s two offensive stars in Aggies men’s basketball team’s 87-81 upset of East Carolina at Minges Coliseum talked about newness. Junior forward Femi Olujobi talked about a new mentality and Aaren Edmead discussed a new toughness.
Both were on display in the Aggies first win over the Pirates in six tries. The Aggies beat a non-conference in-state Division I foe not named UNC Greensboro for the first time since the 2010-11 season when they beat UNC Wilmington 84-79 in Corbett Sports Center. It was their first non-conference in-state Division I win outside of Greensboro since beating Wilmington during the 1990-91 season.
The Aggies (5-1) have now won four straight including two straight on the road.
“We came into this game looking to win,” Olujobi, the nation’s leading scorer who finished with 23 points and nine rebounds on 11-for-12 shooting from the free throw line. “We have a whole new team and a whole new mindset. This was just another stepping stone to where we want to go as a team. Right now, we feel like we have a chance to do something special for the university and every guy in that locker room wants to be a part of it.
Everyone on this team brings something to the table. With all the pieces we have, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.”
Edmead, who scored 23 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, displayed the other newness in the Aggies men’s basketball program. With 15:25 remaining in the game and the Aggies leading 50-49, Edmead and ECU guard Shawn Williams found themselves in a heated verbal sparring match in which the two competitors got in each other’s faces. Edmead was called for a technical foul, giving the Pirates two free throws and the lead. It admittedly got him going.
“I feel like I’m an energy guy, and I like to get the team going,” said Edmead. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that getting a tech is the way to do it, but it did spark me, and I just wanted to keep my team going. I’m ready to do what I can to continue winning. This is a new A&T this year, and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Edmead hit big shot after big shot in the second half, perhaps the biggest coming with 4:07 remaining in the game. ECU’s Isaac Fleming hit two free throws to bring the Pirates to within two, 73-71. Edmead then dribbled down the floor, worked his way to the middle of the floor and pulled up from the top of the key just behind the 3-point arc and netted a three to give the Aggies a 76-71 lead. The Pirates never recovered.
Fleming did bring the Pirates to within three on a layup with just under three minutes to play. But freshman guard Kameron Langley put his defender on his right hip and drove left to score on a layup to give the Aggies an 80-75 lead with 2:25 remaining. A 3-point play from Olujobi 52 seconds later was the knockout punch.
N.C. A&T, who did not win a road game last season, is 2-1 on the road this season.
“Winning is hard enough, to get it done on the road is huge,” said N.C. A&T coach Jay Joyner. “It gives us a lot of confidence to know whether we are home or away we can still get the job done. We have two really good road wins so far.”
The Aggies jumped on the Pirates (2-4) early led by graduate guard Devonte Boykins. After ECU took a 3-2 lead 44 seconds into the game, the Aggies went on a 9-0 run sparked by a Boykins 3-pointer. ECU would not see the lead again until the 18:52 mark of the second half. Boykins scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half including three 3-pointers to lead the Aggies to a 43-40 halftime lead.
“When you're able to come on the road and control the first half, it takes the crowd out of it,” said Joyner. “It helps you settle down offensively and defensively because you have the lead. I thought East Carolina did a great job in the second half. They came out swinging, and we must understand basketball is a game of runs.
They're going to make their runs, we're going to make our runs, but at the end of the day it's about finishing the job. I'm so proud of these guys for finishing the job.”
N.C. A&T’s new task will be a road game against Central Connecticut on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.