SAVANNAH, Ga.-North Carolina A&T women's basketball head coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs became the 51st head coach to join the all-time NCAA Division I 500 win club on Monday, as the Aggies defeated Savannah State by a 88-74 final at Tiger Arena. She ranks 27th on the active Division I wins list with 500.
Bibbs' career record is 500-292. As the seconds ticked down on the clock, one thought was going through Bibbs' head.
"Oh my goodness, it's over, we got it. My girls did it, my ladies did it. They did what they said they were going to do," she said.
To get to 500 has meant a lot of hard work for Bibbs over her 27 years as a head coach at a DI historically black university.
"Well it means that it's been trials, it's been tribulation, it's been hardships, but it's been more good than bad. A lot of times when you're a coach, especially when you're a young coach, you don't think about that. In my younger years of coaching, I never thought about that," Bibbs said. "Then it was 100, then 200, then 300, then 400. I never really thought about 500. I want to thank (SID) Brian Holloway because he always is very good with numbers, and statistics and history. He was the one that really brought it to my attention that I was right there."
Bibbs is now the first head coach to win all 500 games as the head coach of a Division I HBCU program, and she will be the second MEAC coach to join the 500 club, after Norfolk State's James Sweat. Bibbs became the 38th active head women's basketball coach to capture 400 career wins during the 2007-08 season. She won No. 400 on Nov. 23, 2007 with an 88-62 victory over UNC Asheville in her third season with the Aggies.
"I mean for me to remain at an HBCU and do the things, it was always about my players. I wanted to stay at an HBCU for things like this to give kids an opportunity to feel the passion and the history-they're a part of it," Bibbs said.
Redshirt sophomore Amber Calvin secured the win for the Aggies, posting a career-high 33 points along with three rebounds and three assists to put her at 102 for the season. It marked the eighth time in program history that a player has posted 100 or more assists in a season. She went 13-for-13 from the free throw line, and had four 3-pointers in the contest.
"Amber Calvin is awesome. She's court saavy. She has that fight, she's awesome," Bibbs said. "She rallied her troops, she did. I'm so proud."
An and-one by Calvin tied the game up at 59-59 with 12:31 left in the game. After Jasmine Kirkland hit a free throw, Calvin hit a jumper just inside the arc to give A&T a 61-60 lead with 12:10 on the clock. The Tigers regained the upper hand with a one-point advantage as Ezinne Kalu scored on a layup.
But the Aggies were not finished.
The Aggies then went on a 13-0 run to recapture the lead. Calvin gave the Aggies the lead with a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 64-62 with 10:51. Nikia Gorham put in the layup off a Calvin pass to put A&T up by four. Freshman guard Adriana Nazario hit a pair of free throws and Jessica Lyons hit a jumper to extend the lead to eight. A layup by Berry followed by a jumper by DeAndra Davis made it a 74-62 game for the Aggies with seven minutes to play. From there, the Aggies stayed in control.
It was a very fast and furious first half as both teams raced up and down the court exchanging blows. The Tigers and Aggies exchanged the lead eight times and the score was tied nine times in the opening 20 minutes of play. The Tigers led 50-44 at the half. It was all the more impressive that the Aggies were behind by just six because the Tigers shot 71 percent from the floor.
"Wow, I mean we said that we've never had people score 50 points on us in the first half, and I think our defense just wasn't clicking. Then we said, 'Hey guys, we know what you did on Saturday night. You've got to bring that energy, bring that passion and you've just got to go back out there and play your game. Let's get back to what we were doing, let's get back to how we were doing it. Let's get back to execution and they just did it. They did it. I'm so happy," Bibbs said.
The Aggies return home to take on Norfolk State at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 in their regular season finale. The Aggies will celebrate their homecoming from their final roadtrip on Thursday with a ceremony honoring Bibbs and her achievement.