TAMPA, Fla. – The North Carolina A&T women’s basketball team saw the curtains close on yet another stellar season after it suffered at 56-50 loss to South Florida in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, Friday evening at the Sun Dome.
“This loss is bittersweet,” head coach Tarrell Robinson said. “It’s hard to see Tracy King and DeAndra Davis’ careers end. It’s been a pleasure coaching those young ladies. They’ve done a lot for this program which I think is headed in the right direction.”
The Aggies who made their second straight appearance in the WNIT and have advanced to the postseason five out of the last seven seasons finished with a record of 24-7.
A&T trailed USF 31-23 at the half but the Aggies put together an 11-4 run capped off with five straight points from redshirt junior Debbie Smith, a 3-pointer and a jumper to slice the Bulls’ lead to 35-34 with 13:23 to play.
Buckets from redshirt sophomore Eboni Ross and Carter tied the game at 38 at the 10:40 mark. USF tried to pull away but a three from King tied the game at 41 with 8:41 on the clock. It was the closest the Aggies got to the Bulls as South Florida used a 7-0 run to extend its lead to 48-41. A&T got within three 50-47, after Carter drove to the basket with a layup with less than four minutes to play.
Baskets didn’t fall for the Aggies in the final minutes as South Florida took advantage of the charity stripe, where it converted on all four shots, along with a layup from Alisia Jenkins to close out the game.
“I thought we settled for a lot of outside shots,” Robinson explained. “I thought we played a perfect game plan the ball just didn’t fall when we needed it to and we didn’t get to the foul line.”
A&T was just 6-of-7 at the line and was 2-for-15 (13.3 percent) from behind the arc.
The Aggies were plagued with foul trouble in the first half but that didn’t stop redshirt sophomore Aprill McRae who scored eight points in the first half. Layups from McRae and Carter gave A&T a 15-13 edge over the Bulls at the 9:57 mark. South Florida ended the half on a 16-10 rally.
Carter led A&T with 15 points and three assists. Defensively, Ross grabbed eight rebounds.
The Aggies outscored the Bulls 34-20 in the paint and took a 21-6 advantage on second chance points.
Jenkins recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Inga Orekhova added 15 points and Courtney Williams finished with 14.
“I plan on using this for the returners as proof that we’re just as good as anybody. We just have to come and apply our time in the gym, focus and just really take this thing serious and this program can really take off. I think I have a great group of young ladies that are capable of making it happen.”