GREENSBORO – Special. Exceptional. Unusual. Uncommon. Notable. Noteworthy. Remarkable. Unique. It all means the same. It all means doing something otherwise different from the norm. It is what the North Carolina A&T women’s basketball team wants the 2013-14 season to be.
In order for that to be the case, every opportunity to get better must be seen as special. Therefore, when the overmatched Virginia University of Lynchburg Dragons came into Corbett Sports Center Saturday afternoon, the Aggies made them feel special in a 99-32 blowout that gave the Aggies their 10th straight win at home dating back to last season.
The Aggies (6-1) have now won six straight as they take a 10-day competition break to focus on exams before traveling to Asheville to face UNC Asheville on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.
“We’ve got a chance,” said A&T head coach Tarrell Robinson about winning a MEAC championship. “We talked about from day one separating ourselves from the rest of the MEAC. We’re moving in in the right direction.”
Robinson didn’t like the play of his team early on. The Dragons (1-8) were competitive over the first 10 minutes of the game. When Aprill McRae hit a jump shot from the free throw line at the 11:09 mark of the first half, the Aggies held just a 14-8 lead. But the Dragons were just too careless with the basketball, and the Aggies were opportunistic almost every time as they racked up a 56-0 advantage in points off turnovers. When Sierra Thomas’ turnover led to an Ariel Bursey 3-point play in transition, it completed a 12-3 run that gave A&T a 32-13 lead with 6:14 remaining in the first half.
That lead eventually grew to a 48-20 halftime advantage.
“I thought it was good to see our players respond,” Robinson said. “I thought in the first half we started out slow, sluggish and playing down to our competition. I thought they picked it up in the second half. Forty-four turnovers – I thought that was impressive.”
Yes, the Aggies did indeed force a school-record 44 turnovers, evaporating the old mark of 39 set on three different occasions over the past six seasons, all against conference opponents. VU of Lynchburg’s turnovers led to 26 A&T steals, which fell five short of the school mark.
McRae led five Aggies in double figures with a season-high 18 points and six rebounds on 9-for-14 shooting. Bursey and Adriana Nazario had 15 apiece. Christina Carter added 14 points and nine assists, becoming just the eighth player in school history to record nine assists in a game. She is the first Aggie to do it since Amber Calvin had nine against S.C. State on Feb. 25, 2012. Eboni Ross rounded out the double-figure scoring with 13 points to go along with her eight rebounds and two blocks.
Tracy King led the thievery with eight steals, becoming just the seventh player in school history to record eight steals and the first since JaQuayla Berry had eight on Feb. 26, 2011 against Coppin State.
The Aggies scored the first 13 points after intermission, leaving only one uncertainty – the 100-point plateau. When an A&T 3-pointer came up short in the waning seconds, the Aggies missed out on a chance to reach triple digits for only a fifth time in school history.
But when weighing what the Aggies are after this season, 100 points against VU of Lynchburg is of little significance.
“In every practice, we talk about this season being special,” said Robinson. “If it is truly going to be special, we have to treat every practice and every game like it’s special. Hampton (winners of four straight MEAC titles) has set the standard and until you exceed the standard, you’re just another one of the teams trying to get there.”