GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T bowling team ended the second day of the 2011 MEAC Southern Division #1 Tournament with a 2-8 overall record, finishing 0-5 in bakers play, at Gate City Lanes on Sunday.
The Aggies (12-24, 2-8) lost to Bethune-Cookman 1030-938, fell to Florida A&M 761-602, and were defeated by Norfolk State 802-619. The Aggies also lost a close match to N.C. Central, 980-975, and to S.C. State 803-763. The Aggies faced stiff competition this weekend, as the MEAC is known as one of the best bowling conferences in the nation.
"Today was, needless to say, disappointing based on our record," said N.C. A&T head coach James Williams. "This really puts us in a really big hole that we need to dig ourselves out of, in order to qualify for Championships in March. Wins are a hard to come by within the Southern Division. The good thing is that no one team is dominating the South.
"We are still within striking distance, still have a good chance of claiming either the three or four spot to qualify," Williams added. "However to accomplish that, we need to definitely increase the spare percentage. Again, today a number of games/matches were decided by one or two spares."
The Aggies' best match came against rival N.C. Central, in which they went to six of seven games against the Eagles. They bowled a game-high 191 in the first game of the match against N.C. Central, which was also the best game they bowled all day. The Aggies and Eagles were tied at two games apiece after four games. But N.C. Central won the final two games to take the match.
The Aggies bowled an average of 155.8 during the bakers matched on Sunday. They ended bakers play with 3,897 total pinfalls, the lowest among the six competing teams. N.C. Central and Norfolk State both went 4-1 on Sunday to lead the way. Bethune-Cookman left the Invitational Tournament in first place with a 7-3 record, while Norfolk State finished 6-3. Florida A&M, N.C. Central and S.C. State all went 5-5 in the Tournament.
"The weekend was challenging," Williams said. "Bowling in the MEAC, we are always presented with some of the best competition in the nation. Saturday's matches presented a number of challenges. Though our record didn't show it, we actually bowled pretty well in some areas. Our single pin spare percentage was better than it has been the previous two tournaments.
"And we actually had more single pin opportunities," he continued. "That means we are throwing better first shots and giving ourselves better opportunities. Though that aspect was up, our multiple pin conversion rate was down, almost 10 percent. So, we definitely still have a long way to go."
But despite the 0-5 finish, the Aggies had some strong moments during the weekend, including a 2-3 record on Saturday, highlighted by a tournament-high and career-high 235 game by Cherise Poole in the team's victory against Florida A&M on Saturday.
"I'm very proud of Cherise Poole," Williams said. "A couple of weeks ago she came to the coaching staff and basically said she wanted to improve her tournament average. She went even as far to tell me specifically what she wanted to average. The conversations that took place afterwards basically informed her of the extra work she would have to do in order to achieve her goals. She has not disappointed with the effort she has given after the first tournament. All we have seen from her is improvement day in and day out. The last two tournaments have been nothing but improvements for Cherise. This weekend's tournament puts Cherise one step closer to achieving the average she wants."
N.C. A&T will next compete in the Hawk Classic from Nov. 18-20 at Millsboro, Del. They will next take on MEAC Southern Division opponents in the 2nd Division Invitational Tournament from Dec. 3-4 at Orangeburg, S.C.
"I told the ladies that today was a better day even though our record didn't show it," Williams said. "Again, the single pin percentage was up from yesterday, so that was a great thing. It also means we are improving. However, it's still not where I would like it. There was a lot of improvement since the last tournament, but we have a lot to get accomplished and a very short time to get it done. Though we had a rough weekend, I saw some promising things and things that made me excited about this coming week of practice as well as this coming weekend tournament, in Millsboro, Delaware."