EAST GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T continues to use closing out the regular-season in the comforts of Corbett Sports Center to their advantage. Two days after beating S.C.
Norfolk State is 17-11 overall and 12-1 MEAC. They remain the No. 1 team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
The Aggies (16-12, 11-3 MEAC) are still in a position to claim the No. 1 seed at the MEAC tournament, March 11-16. At this time of the season for the Aggies, it is about getting better with each game while continuing to win.
“Any time you can get a win, you will take it,” said N.C. A&T coach Jay Joyner. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well from the 3-point line, but we found another way to win and it took some grit. I’m going to go into the locker room and enjoy tonight’s win and prepare for Florida A&M for the rest of the week.”
N.C. A&T has double-digit wins in the conference in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. Things got dicey for the Aggies late in Monday night’s game as the Tigers (17-11, 7-7 MEAC) who are closing out their final season in the MEAC, took a 50-45 lead on a Romani Hansen 3-pointer with 6:22 remaining.
Sophomore Kameron Langley quickly answered as he went deep into the paint and tossed a no-look pass to junior Ronald Jackson for a dunk. Two free throws from graduate center Ibrahim Sylla got the Aggies to within before a 3-pointer from SSU’s Zaquavian Smith pushed the Tigers lead to four at 53-49 with 4:41 on the clock.
Fifth-year guard Amari Hamilton put the Aggies back in the lead as his short jumper in the lane cut the lead to two before the Aggies went in front when Hamilton raced down the floor, took a pass from Langley in transition and swished a three to give the Aggies a 54-53 lead.
Moments later, broke a 55-55 tie, the eighth of the game, with a layup with 2:41 remaining in the game. Gantz then hit an open 18-footer to give the Aggies a 59-55 lead with. Two Jackson free throws put the Aggies ahead by six with 30 seconds remaining. The Tigers scored just two field goals in the final five minutes of the game.
“We just have to continue to be hawkish on defense,” said Joyner. “If the defense remains intense, the offense will come.”
N.C. A&T shot just 39 percent from the floor and were only 4-for-21 (19 percent) from 3-point range. The Aggies did shoot 46.7 percent in the second half while holding the Tigers to 34.5 percent shooting for the game.
Hamilton came off the bench to lead the Aggies with 16 points. Gantz added 11 points and seven rebounds. Langley finished with nine assists.
The Aggies will continue to play at home as they face FAMU 4 p.m., Saturday, March 2, at Corbett. The Aggies have won 14 straight games at home against MEAC competition. Hansen led the Tigers with 17 points.