GREENSBORO – There were two factors going against the North Carolina A&T men’s basketball team Monday night. On Saturday, the Aggies had four players play more than 40 minutes in an overtime win over Morgan State. Secondly, the Aggies were playing a Coppin State team that felt they were robbed of a victory in Corbett Sports Center last season.
An invigorated Coppin State team ran past an A&T team that seemed a bit sluggish from the start, 70-54, at Corbett Sports Center.
Richaud Pack led the Aggies with 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting. Bruce Beckford recorded his third double-double of the season as he finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Eagles (7-13, 4-3 MEAC) were able to win in Corbett for the first time in seven years.
“This is just what I was afraid of,” said A&T head coach Cy Alexander. “We weren’t mentally ready to play. We were still living off what happened Saturday against Morgan State. Obviously we didn’t do a good job of getting them ready to play because we weren’t mentally ready to play. Until we can understand and mature as a team to be able to refocus and re-energize, we're going to be like an elevator, up and down up and down.”
The Aggies were coming off a 68-67 overtime win over a Morgan State team that was previously undefeated in the conference. It was an exhausting win because the Aggies trailed most of the game and didn’t take their first lead until overtime. The Aggies didn’t do anything physical on Sunday, according to Alexander. They just walked through the things CSU runs offensively and defensively and then watched film on the Eagles. “We had a shootaround this morning but still tried to preserve their legs,” Alexander said.
Despite his best efforts however, the Aggies (7-14, 3-3 MEAC) just didn’t have their best game on Monday. The Eagles ran out to a 24-4 lead behind seven made 3-pointers over the first 11 minutes of the game. After a Sterling Smith 3-pointer made it 30-7 with 6:35 remaining in the first half, the Aggies tried to stage a rally.
Pack capped off a 9-0 A&T run with a transition layup to pull the Aggies to within 12 at 30-18. But Michael Murray did what CSU did all night, he responded with a 3-pointer to increase CSU’s lead. The Eagles would make a season-high 13 3-pointers. Andre Armstrong’s three gave CSU a 40-21 with 1:06 to play in the first half. The Aggies were able to end the half on a high note as Steven Burrough found Beckford underneath for a layup as A&T went into the locker room down 40-23 at the half.
A&T got as close as 12 in the second half as a Jeremy Underwood steal led to a Lamont Middleton 3-pointer to put the Aggies down 43-31 two minutes into the half. But another Eagles three, this one by Arnold Fripp, prevented the Aggies from generating any momentum.
The Eagles led by as many as 25 in the second half as Armstrong came off the bench to lead four players in double figures with 16. Six different Eagles hit 3-pointers led by Fripp who was 3-for-3. Murray had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
For the Eagles it was revenge after losing 63-62 in Corbett last season on a shot they felt should have counted at the buzzer.
“When you play the rigorous MEAC schedule of the Saturday, Monday games, the most important thing is to be able to recover mentally and re-energize yourself. What happened the previous game…you can’t live on it. No one is going to come in here and lay down for you. If anything they’re going to come in here and play hard because they felt like they beat us last year. We tried to tell them this for 48 hours, but it didn’t seem to sink in.”
The Aggies return to action Saturday, Feb. 1 when they travel to Princess Anne, Md., to play Maryland Eastern Shore at 4 p.m.