TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (February 2, 2019) – North Carolina A&T has seen size before during the 2018-19 men’s basketball season. They just got a reminder Saturday evening at the Al Lawson Center.
The Aggies struggled from the field from the opening tap and 7-foot Florida A&M did not help matters as the Rattlers handed the Aggies their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) loss of the season, 63-39.
N.C. A&T (11-10, 6-1 MEAC) shot a season-low 29.6 percent from the floor and FAMU center Isaiah Martin ended the day with 12 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. The Rattlers (9-14, 6-2 MEAC) scored the first 14 points of the game for which the Aggies never really recovered.
“Yes, they had size, but I wasn’t really concerned about that. We saw size before we entered the MEAC conference. We just stunk it up today,” said N.C. A&T coach Jay Joyner who saw his team lose on the road for the first time in conference play this season. “We don’t score 40 points it is a pretty bad day of offense.”
Ibrahim Sylla was the only Aggie to score in double figures. He had 13. The Aggies had 13 turnovers and only eight assists marking just the second time in conference play the Aggies have had more turnovers than assists. N.C. A&T missed their first 10 shots from the field, their first five free throws and they were just 2-for-21 from 3-point range.
In all total, it was just not the Aggies night.
“We have no excuses. We’ve still got nine games to play in the conference, so all we can do at this point is hit the reset button and get ready for Monday,” said Joyner referring to the Aggies Monday night (7:30) contest at Bethune-Cookman. “We’re going to have a hard day of practice down in Daytona tomorrow and we’re not going to fret because we have a lot of basketball left.”
Despite their offensive woes in the first half, a Terry Harris 3-pointer had the Aggies to within 10 at halftime, 29-19.
N.C. A&T opened the second half by going right after Martin in the middle. Dribble penetration by Aggies point Kameron Langley drew Martin away from the basket. Langley proceeded to dump the ball down to the spot Martin vacated. Sylla benefited both times as he took both Langley passes and scored to cut FAMU’s lead to 29-23. A Sylla free throw and another bucket underneath had the Rattlers lead down to three within the first three minutes of the second half.
FAMU went on an 8-0 run to push the lead back into double digits with 11:47 to play. Two minutes later the Aggies had the lead back under 10 again as Langley drove to the basket and laid the ball up high off the glass to put the Aggies down 41-34. FAMU’s M.J. Reynolds quickly responded with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 10. N.C. A&T never trailed by less than 10 the rest of the night.
“Maybe we needed this to wake the guys up. Maybe we needed this as a reminder,” said Joyner. “I keep telling the guys we’ve got a long way to go before reach our ultimate goal. We’ve got to keep fighting and stay focused. We were reminded of that tonight.”