PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- North Carolina A&T stretched its winning streak to three on Saturday with a 67-55 win over Maryland Eastern Shore at the William P. Hytche Athletic Center in women's basketball action.
The Aggies extended their streak thanks to strong 3-point shooting early.
The Aggies (13-7, 5-2) who have the second best 3-point field goal percentage in the MEAC, hit seven 3-pointers in the first half, matching the most 3-pointers they have scored in a full game all season.
"To me that's the most important thing is making sure they find a rhythm," said A&T head coach Tarrell Robinson. "The stuff we do and the versatility of our players, those shots are going to be available, so you want to knock them down."
The hot shooting and early rhythm enabled the Aggies to take a 15-point lead at the break, aided by an 11-0 run in the first nine minutes of the game. That cushion helped them stave off a second-half run by the Hawks (5-12, 1-5).
"I talked to them at halftime that you know that every team is going to make a run. Obviously UMES responded to Coach [Fred] Batchelor and made a run in the second half, but because of the gap that we put up in the first half, we were able to sustain that and obviously calm down and go ahead and finish the game," said Robinson.
What helped the Aggies secure their fifth conference win on the year was a strong performance from senior forward JaQuayla Berry, who led the team with 23 points and eight rebounds. She also went 10-for-11 from the free throw line in the second half and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Redshirt junior Amber Calvin had 13 points while junior Tracy King had 12 points and eight rebounds.
"JaQuayla Berry had a super first half and Tracy put us in a good position. It all starts with JaQuayla. She's a difference maker when she wants to be, and it showed today," Robinson said. "I thought free throw shooting was important, shooting 80 percent-Quay shooting 10-for-11, stepping up like a senior should."
The veteran leadership helped prevent A&T from losing their large lead. A 3-pointer by Chalyse Taylor capped off an 11-0 run by UMES to cut A&T's lead to six at 46-40. But a layup by junior DeAndra Davis snapped A&T's five-minute scoring drought to make it 48-40 with 10:43 left. The Aggies managed to stay out in front by double digits over the majority of the final 10 minutes. A Karona Roach 3-point play did cut the Aggies lead to 58-51 with 2:07 to play. But Berry went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final two minutes to keep the Hawks out of reach.
"We were able to recover from [their run] and not give the game away. UMES is a young team and Coach Batchelor is a good friend and mentor of mind. I knew they were going to respond to him. It was about us handling the wave and going in and taking care of business," Robinson said.
A&T shot 27 percent in the first half, compared to 52 percent in the second. Robinson credited UMES with making strong adjustments to help keep the Aggies in check after they shot well the first 20 minutes. But he also said the team needs to improve upon converting second chance scoring opportunities as they continue on their campaign for a MEAC regular-season title.
"We've just got to get better with our second chance points, with boxing out. We've got to get better with that. All in all, I'm happy with the win. We'll see where we are. We play a really hot Del State team on Monday," he said.
The Aggies will take on Delaware State in Dover at 5:30 p.m.