LYNCHBURG, Va. (March 12, 2018) – For the Liberty Flames, it was not how many 3-pointers they made, it was when they made them. North Carolina A&T saw its season come to an end Monday night in men’s basketball with a 65-52 loss to Liberty at Vines Arena in the College Insider Tournament.
In what was a close game throughout, the Flames pulled away with some well-timed threes to end the Aggies season at 20-15.
“First and foremost, it’s been a great season,” said N.C. A&T coach Jay Joyner. “The expectations for our team were very low coming into the season. The kids did a phenomenal job. Someone’s season had to come to an end, and they were playing on their homecourt, and that’s an advantage especially this time of the year.”
But I will be forever grateful to these young because they believed in me and where I wanted to take this program when it wasn’t easy to do so. I am going to walk into that locker room, and give each and every one of them a hug and say thank you. They deserve it.”
N.C. A&T took its largest lead of the game, 34-31, on a Devonte Boykins 3-pointer. The Flames (21-14) took over from there. They put together a 12-2 run that included two Keegan McDowell 3-pointers that gave Liberty a 43-36 lead. Junior Aaren Edmead stopped the Flame run with a 3-pointer, but the Flames scored the next four points before another Edmead 3-pointer got the Aggies to within seven at 49-42 with 7:35 remaining.
A spinning move baseline by senior Davaris McGowens got the lead down to five before a 7-0 run capped by a Scottie James 3-pointer put the Aggies away as Liberty took a 56-44 lead with 4:05 to play.
“We lost their shooters tonight and that can’t happen,” said Joyner. “You can’t allow that to happen when your season is on the line.”
N.C. A&T trailed by as many as seven in the first half, 23-16. But the Aggies ended the half on a 5-0 that included a Femi Olujobi layup and a steal and a layup from freshman Kameron Langley that put the Aggies behind 23-21 at the half. Edmead was the only Aggie in double figures as he finished with 14 points. Olujobi had eight points and 12 rebounds. Liberty’s Caleb Homesley led all scorers with 16 points.
The Flames advanced in the CIT while the Aggies will prepare for the 2018-19 season without key contributors from the 2017-18 like fifth-year forward Denzel Keyes who closed his men’s basketball career with a third-team All-MEAC selection. McGowens, who led the Aggies in scoring during conference play, also played his last collegiate game on Monday.
Boykins, a graduate transfer out of Georgia Southern, led the Aggies in 3-pointers made. But he too is gone along with 3-point threat Amari Hamilton and reserve Donte Watson.
Olujobi, the Aggies leader scorer, is scheduled to return along with Edmead and freshman point guard Kameron Langley who had a superb rookie season. Milik Gantz, who had 21 points at Georgetown, is also scheduled to be back along with promising freshman center D’Andre Johnson.
“I’m proud of these guys. No one can take away from them the fact that they proved a lot of people wrong this year,” said Joyner whose team was picked to finish last in the MEAC prior to the season. “Again, I’ll remember them for the rest of my life. They have no reason to hold their heads down tonight. They played in a postseason game. Now it’s time to hit the recruiting trail, so we can get better and continue to play and coach the right way.”