TOWSON, Md. -The North Carolina A&T bowling team posted a 5-7 record at the James Brown Bowling Invitational hosted by Morgan State at the AMF Towson Lanes over the weekend in their final non-conference tournament of the season.
The Aggies will be looking to take the momentum from their successes at a tough 23-team tournament, in which they faced some ranked opponents, into preparing for their final conference match.
"Though our 5-7 record doesn't show, this was a great weekend for us. We lost some tough matches against some very tough opponents. Five of them were nationally ranked. It was definitely a good measuring stick to see our progress," said head coach James Williams. "We resume practice this week to continue tweaking some things and to get ready for next weekend's event."
The Aggies went 3-2 in baker matches on Friday. A&T narrowly lost to No. 1 Fairleigh-Dickinson 789-722, to start competition. The Aggies also lost to Morgan State 760-682. But then the Aggies got on a three-game winning streak to close the day, defeating Howard by 749-706, downing Florida A&M 688-682 and dominating Cheyney 680-575.
On Day 2, the Aggies lost five of their team matches, to finish 3-7. Sophomore Cherise Poole had another strong tournament for the Aggies, finishing with a 183.2 average. Her best game was a 198, which she bowled against Norfolk State.
Day 2 was an extremely tough day for the Aggies. Their schedule consisted of No. 8 Nebraska, No. 13 Delaware State, No. 11 Norfolk State, Hampton, and No. 14 Kutztown.
Williams said the losses were close and believes tough competition will aid the Aggies as they prepare for the MEAC Southern Division #3 tournament. The Aggies lost to the Cornhuskers 957-836. They fell to Delaware State by 1073-811, dropped a 972-918 match to Norfolk State, lost to Hampton by 956-887 and then lost to Kutztown by 869-818.
"Our loses were a result of either one or two missed spare or the other team just rolling more strikes than us," Williams said. "Though we didn't win a match on Day 2, the competition is just what we needed to get us ready for the last Southern MEAC. The ladies got to see the hard work paying off these last two weekends of competition."
In the third day of competition, the Aggies grabbed another pair of wins. The Aggies defeated Fayetteville State in seven games. The Aggies followed that performance by taking Morgan State down to the wire.
"All I can say about the match is that it was exhausting," said Williams about the MSU matchup. "Trading games back and forth, even tying the fifth game, was really taking its toll."
Williams complimented April Terry, who he says had some issues getting the shots the Aggies needed to win last weekend. But this weekend, Williams remarked about how many big shots she made. The match ended up going to a roll off to break the 3.5 to 3.5 tie after 7 games. In the roll off, every player bowls one frame. A&T won the roll off 101 to 85.
"Even with strikes from Amber Brown, Shameka Williams and Cherise Poole, we still needed a strike from April just to force Morgan to strike in the 10th frame. It was great to see the ladies make the shots when we needed them."
Gutting out to wins definitely help boost the Aggies momentum heading into their next tournament.
"It was an awesome way to end the tournament. Two tough wins that tested everything we had been working on is a great way to have momentum going into the last MEAC Southern competition," Williams said.
The Aggies will next compete from March 3-4 at the MEAC Southern Division #3 tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., working to qualify for the MEAC Championships, which will be held from March 16-18 in Greensboro.