ORANGEBURG, S.C. (January 5, 2019) –North Carolina A&T remained dominant against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) opponents on Saturday by opening MEAC play in women’s basketball with a 58-44 over the South Carolina Bulldogs at the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.
Including conference tournament play, the Aggies have now won 21 of their last 23 games against MEAC foes. N.C. A&T’s latest conference triumph came via the rebound. The Aggies welcomed back one of the top rebounders in the MEAC in junior Alexus Lessears and outrebounded the Bulldogs 43-25. It was Lessears first game played since Nov. 25 when the Aggies lost to Navy.
“Our size is the main reason we held them to 44 points and why we outrebounded them,” said N.C. A&T coach Tarrell Robinson. “We got Alexus Lessears back today and good things happened. We’re starting to get healthy at this point in the season and hopefully we can maintain that. It’s good to have Suge (aka Lessears) back not just from a statistical standpoint, but her presence also gives our team confidence.”
While Lessears’ return helped, she was just a small part of the huge effort put forth by N.C. A&T. Every player who earned minutes for the Aggies on Saturday was credited with at least one rebound. In addition, 10 different players scored for the Aggies (4-10, 1-0 MEAC).
“It’s good to know you not only have depth, but that depth has experience,” said Robinson who brought three juniors and two freshmen off the bench on Saturday. “You never know who is ready, and we’re still trying to get healthy. We’re dividing up the minutes trying to let people get comfortable and then getting them out to get someone else in there to let them gain experience.”
The Aggies bench outscored the Bulldogs reserves 29-10 led by Lessears’ nine points and six rebounds. But it was defense that helped the Aggies build a substantial lead on the road starting in the second quarter. The Aggies trailed 17-13 going into the second quarter.
But a rebound from junior C’coriea Foy led to a transition bucket for the Aggies by reigning MEAC rookie of the week Rayveen Peeples opened the second quarter for the Aggies. A turnover then led to a layup from junior Mikaya Wilson which also led to an And-1 opportunity that she completed giving the Aggies an 18-17 lead. They never trailed again.
Peeples, Foy and junior Shantell Bostick added layups to contribute to the Aggies 11-1 run to open the second. N.C. A&T extended their lead to 10, 30-20, on a jumper by junior Cinia McCray. The Bulldogs got a layup just before halftime by Dashanique Peterson to trail N.C. A&T 33-27. The Aggies were 7-for-10 from the floor in the second quarter, while they held the Bulldogs to 3-for-12 shooting.
“It’s never an excuse to say, ‘I’m not getting my shots,’” said Robinson. “If you defend, you’ll get plenty of shots, easier shots. I thought our ladies did a good job of following the scout and that’s why we got the result we wanted.”
N.C. A&T’s tough defense continued in the third quarter. The Bulldogs were just 5-for-15 from the floor in the third. The Aggies built their lead back to double figures, 46-36, on two free throws from Le’on Hill with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter. That lead went to 49-38 on a Charme Lilly 3-pointer. Lessears put the Aggies up 13 when she took a pass from McCray and scored inside with 1:45 remaining in the quarter. The Aggies took a 53-38 lead into the fourth quarter on a McCray jumper.
N.C. A&T’s lead ballooned to as many as 17 in the fourth quarter before they closed out another conference victory. Peeples led N.C. A&T with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting. Rhein Beamon led the Bulldogs with 13.
“Obviously, we’re still a work in progress,” said Robinson. “We know we’re not where we need to be, but by the end of the season we want to be a championship-type team.”
N.C. A&T will not play again until 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12 at Delaware State.