GREENSBORO-It's been 10 years since the North Carolina A&T women's basketball team has faced Savannah State. It's likely head coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs will like to see more of the Tigers after defeating them 69-45 at Corbett Sports Center on Monday night.
"We played a good game tonight. Our kids played well, they stayed with the game plan," said Bibbs, who is now three wins away from her 500th career victory with four regular-season games remaining.
"We wanted to make sure that we were going to win this by free throws, rebounds and playing a heck of a defense, and they really played defense. I can't say enough about them tonight. It was a complete turnaround from the last game. I'm very proud of these kids, very proud."
The Aggies (11-14, 6-6) were led by sophomore Tiffanie Adair, who earlier on Monday was named MEAC Rookie of the Week for the fourth time in five weeks. Adair posted her second consecutive double-double and her fourth double-double in six games, with 14 points and 14 rebounds against the Tigers (9-15, 2-9).
"At the beginning of the season, it was new, and coach always said to keep working," Adair said. "So I did, and that's what I'm going to continue to do."
"She's such a good kid. I tell you this kid has a lot to give," Bibbs said. "Tiffanie's just a sweet kid, and I just hope she never changes that attitude. She has a great attitude and I love that."
Junior Nikia Gorham had 12 points, nine rebounds and a team-high four steals. Redshirt sophomore Amber Calvin went 11-for-12 at the free throw line with four assists. The A&T bench provided 18 points, including nine from freshman Ariel Bursey.
"It's really good when you have that [team effort] because that means that it's kind of hard to defend when you have people who are scoring-you don't know who to defend. You really love that," Bibbs said.
The total team effort included 30-for-37 shooting from the free throw line, 41 rebounds and seven steals. While the Aggies did commit 23 turnovers, the Tigers were only able to capitalize off of them for 21 points.
"Our kids are rebounding well. Tonight they knocked down the free throws, and you've got to have that," said Bibbs. "We've got to fix this with these turnovers and that's what I'm preaching. But tonight, I just think they did a great job, they really did. We're working on that (the turnovers), but those free throws, hey, it doesn't get any better this."
The Aggies took a 35-23 lead at the half and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way. In the second half, the Tigers pulled to within seven at 52-41 with 6:55 remaining. But help from the bench in the form of freshman Adriana Nazario, who snapped a nearly two-minute scoring drought with a 3-pointer to make it a 55-43 contest. That was followed by a 9-0 run by the Aggies to make it a 63-43 contest with 2:59 remaining.
The Aggies will next take on their archrival N.C. Central on Saturday at 2 p.m., at Corbett Sports Center.
"We know that it's going to be a tough game because rivalries are. They're going to probably play us harder than they play anyone. The first game it was like a total different team than it was last year. We're just going to keep doing things that we are doing, and just get better at what we're doing," Bibbs said.