Eight Is Enough
GREENSBORO -The North Carolina women's basketball was again able to make the most of the eight players they had available. For the second straight night, four A&T players recorded double-figures as the Aggies came away with a 70-64 win over Coppin State Monday night at Corbett Sports Center.
Junior Tracy King led the team with 17 points, while redshirt junior Amber Calvin contributed 13, sophomore Adriana Nazario recorded 12 and senior JaQuayla Berry had 11.
"It was good to get a win at home in conference again," said A&T head coach Tarrell Robinson. "Hopefully we're starting our first winning streak. I thought this was a tough game. Everybody's banged up at this point of the season. But they're working hard. Hopefully we'll continue to get results like this, finishing strong at the end."
The Aggies had a 62-57 lead with 4:30 remaining in the game. Coppin State's Larrisa Carter shrunk that lead when she recorded a layup and was fouled by Berry. Carter made the free throw to pull the Eagles to within two. King's free throw shooting was crucial in the waning minutes. After Amber Calvin hit one of two free throws, King stepped in front of an Ashle Craig pass and went to the other end of the floor for a breakaway layup.
Coppin State scored the next three points to pull within two, 65-63. But King, who was 6-for-6 from the line Monday, knocked two free throws for a four-point A&T advantage with 1:47 to play. The Eagles had opportunities to cut into A&T's lead, but went 0-for-4 the rest of the way.
"I thought our guard play was a lot better," said Robinson of the team's improved second half performance. "We attacked. The thing is we finally started being aggressive."
The Aggies needed a strong finish after a slow and passive start in the first half. A&T shot just 32 percent in the first half and 12 of their 28 shots were from beyond the arc.
"We were a little passive and then it took a half for us to start being aggressive," Robinson said. "I think that was the difference. When you're taking a lot of 3-point shots like we were taking, that means we're not getting to the basket, it means we're settling."
After taking a 28-25 deficit to the locker room at the half, the Aggies (12-7, 4-2 MEAC) came back and responded, shooting 50 percent in the final half against the Eagles (8-13, 4-4 MEAC) and doing a better job of driving to the basket. A&T collected 16 points in the paint and 16 free throws in the second half.
After taking the lead, the Aggies worked to protect it. Nazario made a 3-point play to put the Aggies up by their largest lead 43-35 with 14:23 left. But the Eagles were never out of striking distance. A layup by Kyra Coleman, who had 13 points in the game, pulled the Eagles within three. King responded by nailing a 3-pointer to put A&T ahead 56-50.
The slow start, Robinson said, was possibly due to the slower-tempo practice the Aggies had on Sunday.
"Yesterday in practice we didn't really get up and down because we have a lot of injuries, a lot of people playing a lot of major minutes, and I want to preserve them and have them ready for today. I think that was the result of the first half of the game," he said. "Our rhythm wasn't there."
Robinson and his team will look to take the momentum from the two wins into their first road trip of February. The Aggies will travel north to face Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday at 2 p.m., and Delaware State on Monday at 5:30 p.m.