GREENSBORO – Redshirt junior Debbie Smith came to the rescue with 42 seconds remaining in the game by nailing a 3-pointer to lift the North Carolina A&T women’s basketball team to a 50-47 win over Delaware State, Monday evening at Corbett Sports Center.
With the win A&T (12-3, 2-1 MEAC) remained perfect at Corbett Sports Center while handing Delaware State (4-13, 0-6) its fourth straight loss.
A pair of free throws by Delaware State tied the game at 47 with 47 seconds left in the game. Smith who struggled from behind the arc all game, missing her previous five attempts unleashed an open 3-pointer thanks to a pass from the post by Aprill McRae to secure the game-winning basket.
“I felt confident about the shot when it left my hands,” Smith said. “I tried to stay relaxed because on all of my other shots I wasn’t relaxed. I was thinking I have to hit this shot because we needed this win.”
But it was the Hornets who were on the verge of handing the Aggies an upset. DSU took a 23-14 halftime lead over A&T, holding the Aggies to their fewest points in a half this season. The Aggies struggled from the field in the first half and was just 6-for-32 (18.8 percent) from the field. Faced with one of its worst opening halves of the season, A&T knew that it had work to in the second half.
“At halftime coach told us that we needed to come out with more confidence,” Smith said about Coach Robinson’s halftime speech. “We just needed to settle down and play the way that we know how to.”
The Aggies took heed of Robinson’s words and opened the second half on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 25 with 15:35 remaining. A&T remained ahead of DSU and put together another 15-7 rally, capped off by a 3-pointer from Christina Carter to take the 40-32 lead at the 7:56 mark.
DSU took advantage of a few missed shots by A&T and found it trailing the Aggies 47-44 after Deanna Harmon made a jumper. Harmon was fouled on the play and nailed the extra basket at the line to slice the Aggies lead to 47-45 with 1:17 remaining. After Smith gave the Aggies the 50-47 edge, the Hornets were unable to connect on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game.
Carter led the Aggies with 16 points. She was 6-for-12 from the field, including a pair of three’s. She also led A&T with five assists and grabbed six rebounds. McRae finished with 11 points and was 5-for-7 from the field. Ross recorded nine rebounds and added nine points. Smith also finished with nine points and tallied seven boards.
Raven Bankston led all scorers with 20 points. Tierra Hawkins recorded a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Harmon rounded out the double-digit scoring for the Hornets with 10 points and six rebounds.
A&T will visit North Carolina Central on Wednesday, Jan. 22 for a MEAC game beginning at 5:30 p.m.