CLINTON, S.C. (December 2, 2017) – In the last four days, Presbyterian College has had the two Greensboro Division I men’s basketball programs in their gym and the Blue Hose treated them the same. Four days after beating UNC Greensboro on a buzzer-beater, the Blue Hose did the same to North Carolina A&T.
Davon Bell hit a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining to down the Aggies 73-70 at Templeton Center Saturday evening. It was the Aggies (5-3) second straight loss in their third straight game on the road.
“When he shot I knew it was going,” said N.C. A&T Jay Joyner. “Nobody picked him up, and he broke our backs. I was so surprised at the great look we gave him. It’s as simple as this, we’ve got to start playing defense.”
Bell’s shot spoiled what would have been the Aggies first time overcoming a double-digit halftime deficit since they come from 11 down to beat South Carolina State 62-60 on March 1, 2014. After trailing 32-22 at the half, it appeared the Aggies were poised to pull off the feat after back-to-back 3-pointers from juniors Kwei Lartey and Aaren Edmead gave the Aggies a 59-53 lead with 8:12 remaining in the game.
But the Blue Hose (4-5) responded with a 7-0 run to regain the lead. N.C. A&T scored the next four to regain the lead 63-60 with 4:31 to play. The Aggies maintained the lead until Bell backed himself into the post and scored to give the Blue Hose a 66-65 with two minutes remaining. N.C. A&T junior Japhet Kadji took the lead back with a 15-foot jump shot. But his shot was followed by two consecutive layups from Bell for a 70-67 advantage with 18 seconds remaining.
“Until defense is our priority we are going to have nights like this,” said Joyner. “Presbyterian got to the rim so much it really it became frustrating as a coach.”
After Bell’s layup, Joyner called timeout with the intent of getting the ball to one of his shooters. Junior Femi Olujobi was the second option, but the ball did come to him with Lartey guarded. Olujobi took a 3-pointer from the top of the key and netted it to tie the game at 70, setting up Bell’s last-second three.
“In college basketball, they’re usually not going to guard the 5 (center position) out on the perimeter in that situation. They’re going to look for the guard to take that shot. I didn’t think they were going to expect Femi to be our second option. But he can hit that shot.”
Olujobi recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Raymon Pratt, who was making his first start of the season, finished with a career-high 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Kadji closed out the game by matching his season high with 15 points. He also had six rebounds. Lartey was 3-for-5 from 3-point range and had nine.
N.C. A&T got off to a good start Saturday. They led 17-7 over the first eight minutes of the game but went nearly seven minutes without a field goal which allowed the Blue Hose to rally and eventually take the lead at the half.
“You can’t spot the home team 10 points because in my humble opinion you already come into the gym at a significant disadvantage. They’re playing in their gym where they shoot, where they practice, where they play. We had a lot to overcome coming out of the locker room, but it was good to see the guys have better energy in the second half. “
Bell led the Blue Hose with 22 points and six assists. Greensboro native Reggie Dillard added 19 points. N.C. A&T does not return to action until Dec. 9 when they travel to Washington, D.C., to play the Georgetown Hoyas at 9 p.m.