GREENSBORO – No one said it would be easy but the North Carolina A&T women’s basketball team used everything they had to defeat Florida A&M, 82-77 at Corbett Sports Center Saturday evening.
The Aggies (17-4, 7-2 MEAC) placed five players in double figures and shot a solid 55.6 percent from the field in the rematch against FAMU (11-12, 5-5 MEAC).
“I think Florida A&M is one of the better teams in the league from a talent standpoint,” head coach Tarrell Robinson said. “The games that they’ve won have been at home and they’ve struggled on the road but that’s a good team that we beat. They have one of the best scorers in the country but I’m just glad that we got away with a win. I thought our post players gave us great effort today. Everyone who played contributed.”
The Aggies dominated in the paint where they scored 52 points. A&T was led by junior Ariel Bursey who scored 14 points, dished out four assists and had four steals. Senior DeAndra Davis finished with 13 points, followed by redshirt sophomores Aprill McRae, Eboni Ross and redshirt junior Debbie Smith who all scored 11 points. Smith also led A&T in rebounds with eight.
A&T also did a good job of spreading the ball around by recording 15 assists with seven coming from Christina Carter.
The Aggies defense slowed down the Rattlers in the second half as they cruised on a 16-6 run and took the 52-42 advantage with 15:30 in the game. A&T remained ahead and benefited from three Rattlers fouling out of the game.
A&T took the 70-57 lead with less than six minutes remaining as it looked like it was going to close out the game with no problem. However FAMU fueled a 15-5 run and cut the Aggies lead to 75-72 with 3:30 left. After the timeout Carter and Bursey used a jumper and layup to push A&T’s lead to 79-72. FAMU responded with a three but it wasn’t able to consistently connect on many shots in the final minutes as the Aggies retained control.
Jasmine Grice led all players with 38 points followed by Tanke Rubin who tallied 16 points for FAMU.
From tip-off, the game was packed with a lot of energy from both teams. The Aggies led 13-12 eight minutes into the half until a turnover caused it to trail 14-13. Grice nailed a jumper and a 3-pointer to extend FAMU’s edge to 19-13 with 10:47 left in the half. Both teams exchanged baskets but it was Bursey’s 3-pointer that tied the game at 22 with 7:57 left. Tracy King put the Aggies back on top 33-31 at the 2:11 mark but they found themselves tied at 36 at the end of the half.
A&T struggled handling the ball in the first half as FAMU connected on 21 points off A&T’s 18 turnovers. The Aggies also had to find a way to stop Grice who had already tallied 17 points.
“We prepared all week to work on handling the ball and being more disciplined,” Robinson said. “We still need to improve on that. We didn’t run any gimmick defenses to try and stop Grice. We trust our defense. We know that she’s going to score we just had to make sure that we took care of everyone else and we did. “
The Aggies will host Bethune-Cookman on Monday, Feb. 10 for a league game starting at 6 p.m.