GREENSBORO-Head coach Tarrell Robinson and the North Carolina A&T women's basketball team was not calling today New Year's Eve. They called it "Bounce Back Monday."
After a tough loss on Dec. 28 at Virginia Tech, the Aggies were looking to close out the 2012 year with a strong performance, and they succeeded with a 75-65 victory against Elon at Corbett Sports Center. The Aggies (7-5) shot 48 percent from the floor against the Phoenix (4-7), and had four players reach double-figures, including a season-high 13 points from DeAndra Davis. Redshirt junior Amber Calvin added 16 points, four assists and two steals.
"It feels great," said Robinson. "My hat goes off to DeAndra Davis for coming in and giving us a spark. She gave us nine points in the first half, hit two back-to-back big threes. I just thought we got effort from everybody. I thought Nikia Gorham gave us an inside presence. I thought Eboni Ross did a good job with (Elon center) Kelsey Evans. We did a good job with Ali Ford, their point guard. I thought Adriana Nazario did a good job containing her."
Defense helped seal the victory for the Aggies, who forced nine turnovers and posted 15 defensive rebounds in the second half. The Aggies were also 15-for-18 from the free throw line, and overcame a halftime deficit for the second time this season.
Trailing 37-36 coming out of the breakt, the Aggies outscored the Phoenix 12-4 in the first four minutes of the second half. But the Phoenix did not let the game get away. A steal and a layup by Ford tied the game at 48. But Elon's offensive attack lost its leader when Ford picked up her fourth foul with 14:11 remaining. Despite Ford's foul trouble, the Phoenix battled back as Evans hit a jumper to make it a 57-55 game with 5:52 left.
But Aggies guard Ariel Bursey scored on a put back to give A&T a four-point lead, and seconds later Nazario made it a 61-55 game on a fastbreak layup with five minutes to play. Ford returned to put the Phoenix down 65-62 a minute later. But a 6-1 Aggies run that was capped off by two Nazario free throws helped the Aggies clinch the victory.
The Aggies were aided by taking care of the basketball. They only had six turnovers in the final 20 minutes of the game.
"I just got on them about how we do a good job defensively, we hold them and then we go down and turn the ball over," Robinson said. "I told them we're working too hard to just waste away possessions. We've still got to get better with that."
A&T stayed out front for the first 12 minutes of the game. Elon took its first lead at 23-22 on back-to-back jumpers by Shannen Cochraham. Davis put A&T back ahead with a 3-pointer at 25-23 with7:42 remaining. Davis hit another 3-pointer to put A&T ahead, 30-26. A layup from Gorham helped the Aggies maintain a four-point lead at 36-32, but the Phoenix scored the final five points of the first half thanks to a 3-pointer by Zora Stephenson and a layup from Evans.
The Aggies will open up 2013 with an 11:30 a.m. game at UNC Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 3. They will then host George Washington on Jan. 6 before starting their conference slate on Jan. 12 at Bethune-Cookman.
Robinson said the Aggies will use these final two non-conference matches to tune up their execution before heading into MEAC play.
"Looking at what we displayed against Virginia Tech, we definitely wanted to come home and have a good showing," said Robinson. "That's how we said we wanted to finish the year. I think it was a valiant team effort. We did a good job of contesting shots, making them shoot tough shots, and then getting the boards. We had a good scoring day."