GREENSBORO – The Richmond Spiders opened the second half with two quick baskets. North Carolina A&T women’s basketball coach Tarrell Robinson emphatically called for a 30-second timeout. It was time for two very important reminders – aggressive defense and easy buckets.
The Aggies used both of those elements to shoot 50 percent in the second half while holding Richmond to 34 percent shooting for the game in a 69-60 win over the Spiders in Corbett Sports Center Sunday afternoon.
The Aggies (4-1) picked up their fourth straight win, avenging their 2012 loss to the Spiders (1-4).
“I just told them to settle down because we couldn’t forget how we got here – defending and then trying to execute on offense,” said Robinson about his timeout speech. “We can get anything we want, but we were holding the ball too long and committing turnovers we shouldn’t have.”
A&T held a 27-20 lead at the half despite starting point guard Christina Carter sitting out most of the first half in foul trouble. Even with Carter back on the floor, the Aggies opened the second half with two turnovers that resulted in two Richmond field goals. After the timeout, the Aggies extended their pressure and then went back to an old familiar tactic that worked so well for them in 2012-13.
Let reigning MEAC Rookie of the Year Eboni Ross draw fouls and score baskets in the post. Ross received a pass into the post, took a dribble and scored while being fouled. Her 3-point play gave the Aggies a 41-30 lead six minutes into the second half. Ross would score on another free throw before a Tracy King steal resulted in an easy transition layup for Carter.
Carter would score in transition again and King hit two free throws to complete a 10-1 Aggies run that increased their lead to 48-31 with 11:07 to play. When Spiders guard Olivia Haley scored on a jump shot to cut A&T’s lead to 48-35 with 8:16 to play, it was the Spiders’ first field goal since the 15:56 mark of the second half.
“I think the game turned to our advantage with the pressure we put on them,” said Robinson. “We tried to mix some things up. They’re a team that is very deliberate on offense. We wanted to throw the off their rhythm.”
The Spiders were able to work the deficit back down to eight with 1:42 to play, but an Ariel Bursey 3-pointer seconds later put the Aggies back up by double figures, 65-54, ending any hopes of a Spider rally.
Ross scored eight of her 11 points in the second half and Carter scored 12 of her 14 after intermission. Ross is still recovering from a preseason ankle injury that forced her to miss the Aggies opener at Quinnipiac.
“She is gradually getting better with every game she plays,” said Robinson. “Think about it, we’ve won every game she’s been back.”
The Aggies used transition layups and the inside might of Ross and Aprill McRae to outscore the Spiders 32-20 in the paint. They also made more free throws (23) than the Spiders attempted (17).
“One of our game plans was points in the paint. We want a lot of them,” said Robinson.
Tracy King finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Bursey filled in for the foul-plagued Carter by dishing out six of her seven assists in the first half. McRae added 10 points for A&T. The Spiders were led by Amber Nichols’ 13 points.
The Aggies will try to extend their winning streak to five on Dec. 4 when they return to action to face Appalachian State at 6 p.m., at Corbett Sports Center.