DOVER, Del. (January 8, 2018) – Challenged by North Carolina A&T head men’s basketball coach Jay Joyner for better perimeter play, the N.C. A&T guards responded by coming through with a late offensive surge to lead the Aggies to a 76-66 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference win over Delaware State Monday night at Memorial Hall. It was the Aggies first win at Memorial in seven years, ending a three-game losing at the facility. The Aggies (8-8, 1-0 MEAC) also ended a four-game losing streak to the Hornets (2-16, 0-3 MEAC) overall.
Five Aggies scored in double figures led by fifth-year forward Denzel Keyes who scored 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting off the bench. Graduate guard Devonte Boykins made up for an 0-for-7 3-point shooting day at Virginia Tech on Dec. 28 to hit 4 of 7 from 3-point range against the Hornets to finish with 16. Senior Davaris McGowens scored in double figures for the third straight game with 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting, while junior Aaren Edmead scored 13 off the bench and junior forward Femi Olujobi had 10.
“We have talent on this team, no question about it,” said Joyner. “On any given night guys can step up and score a lot of points. The important thing is grinding it out and winning a basketball game on the road. No matter how you put it, throw out Delaware State’s record because once the ball goes up in the air you must play the right way for 40 minutes. I am very thankful we came away with the win.”
With 4:45 remaining, the Aggies used a pair of shots from behind the arc to put the game out of reach. Boykins’ 3-pointer gave the Aggies a 66-59 lead. After a basket from Artem Tavakalyan, Edmead’s deep 3-pointer from just over the half court line to extend the lead to 69-61 with 2:30 remaining. Edmead then picked up a loose ball and took it the distance of the floor to score while being fouled. His 3-point play gave the Aggies a 72-61 lead with 1:45 to play.
“The game plan was to force turnovers,” said Joyner. “We have the advantage if we push the ball in transition. I was forced to throw different guys out there just to see who was ready to play tonight and fortunately down the stretch we were able to get it done.”
Toward the end of the first half, Boykins proved he was out of his shooting slump. The Georgia Southern transfer connected on three 3-pointers in the final 2:45 of the first half to send the Aggies into the locker room with a 40-32 lead.
DSU opened the second half on a 9-3 run. Keyes was inserted and scored back-to-back baskets for the Aggies to push the lead to six, 49-43 with 15:00 minutes remaining. The Hornets fought back and took their first lead since the 11:40 mark of the first half as two Joe Lewis free throws gave the Hornets a 51-49 advantage with 12:59 to play. The teams then traded mini-runs.
A 6-0 Aggies run capped by a Raymon Pratt layup put the Aggies up by four. DSU scored the next five points to tie the game at 56 with 8:24 remaining. N.C. A&T followed by scoring the next six points as Keyes posted four points during the run. Kavon Waller’s 3-poiter got the Hornets to within three, 62-59, before the big shots by Boykins and Edmead gave the Aggies the win.
“I am just happy for the guys for starting the new year 1-0. We will go back to the drawing board and fix some things and get ready for a tough Morgan State team,” said Joyner.
Morgan State will come to Greensboro to face the Aggies 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 13 at Corbett sports Center. Artem Tavakalyan finished with a game-high 23 points for Delaware State.