HAMPTON, Va. – North Carolina A&T’s first meeting against Hampton in three years started out well but didn’t end well. The Aggies were whistled for four technical fouls in an 89-71 loss to the Pirates at the Convocation Center on Thursday.
The Aggies will go into the tournament as the No. 9 seed and will open against Howard Tuesday afternoon at 4 at the Norfolk Scope. The Aggies lost to Howard in Washington, D.C., 68-60, on Feb. 3. If the Aggies win, they will play No. 1 seed N.C. Central 6 p.m., Wednesday at the Norfolk Scope.
On Thursday, It was the first time A&T has played Hampton since Feb. 14, 2011, and the two teams seemed to enjoy each other’s company at first. Both teams were hot from the floor to open the game with A&T hitting 10 of its first 15 shots, while the Pirates were 15-for-25 over the first 15 minutes of the game.
Richaud Pack created the 11th lead change of the first half when he took a pass from Jeremy Underwood and hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Aggies a 35-34 advantage. After hitting the shot, Pack turned toward the Hampton bench. The referee saw it as taunting and whistled Pack for the technical foul, ending any momentum A&T may have had from hitting the shot.
Brian Darden’s two free throws ignited a 5-0 run for the Pirates that gave them a 39-35 lead, a lead they never surrendered the rest of the game. The Pirates ended the half when Jervon Pressley whipped a pass into Du’Vaughn Maxwell for a dunk and a 45-40 halftime lead for the Pirates.
A&T opened the second half by pulling to within two, 45-43, on two Bruce Beckford free throws. After a tip-in by Pressley, Lamont Middleton went to work in the post, was fouled hard by Deron Powers and retaliated with a shove back that was called a technical foul.
“Our kids felt like they were getting cheap-shotted, and there was nothing being done,” said A&T head coach Cy Alexander. “But the one thing we did do is we lost our poise. It’s a five point game and we end up getting three techs and we could never rebound.”
The most controversial technical fouls of the night came with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Beckford and Maxwell, two post players who had been doing battle all night, were having words with one another up and down the floor. After fouling Maxwell on a jump shot, Beckford was called for a technical foul as the teams lined up at the free throw line. An upset Beckford was called for another technical as he continued to jaw with Maxwell, which automatically disqualified him from the game.
After Powers hit the two free throws, the Pirates lead was 69-56.
“We didn’t play smart because we got a little frustrated with Hampton’s physicality,” said Alexander. “Our guys felt like the physicality was over the top, but we’ve got to keep our cool and play through it. We’ll learn that going forward.”
Richaud Pack, who returned from a knee injury after missing three games, led A&T with 14. Middleton added 12 and Khary Doby came off the bench to score 11. A&T closes the regular season at 9-22 overall and 5-11 in the MEAC.
Hampton improved to 18-11 overall and 13-3 in the MEAC. They are the No. 2 seed. Powers led the Pirates with 20 points, while Maxwell had 11 points and eight rebounds.