GREENSBORO – Before North Carolina A&T’s 2013-14 men’s basketball season started, head coach Cy Alexander said he believed junior forward Waylan Siverand could give the Aggies performances similar to the Miami Heat’s Chris “Birdman” Andersen. It simply meant he believed Siverand could provide rebounding and defense while picking up some hustle points here and there.
Alexander finally got his “Birdman” performance Monday night at Corbett Sports Center. Siverand came off the bench to score A career-high 17 points and grab six rebounds on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor and 7-for-9 shooting at the line to lead the Aggies to a 62-60 win over S.C. State. Saturday marked the first time in Siverand's career that he scored in double figures.
The Aggies won for the sixth straight time over S.C. State in Corbett. The win also snapped the Aggies' (9-21, 5-10 MEAC) five-game losing streak. In his final home game played at Corbett, senior Lamont Middleton added 17 and sophomore Bruce Beckford had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“We’ve been waiting on this performance from Waylan for a long time. He teased us this summer because this is how he played when we were over in the Dominican Republic,” said Alexander about the Aggies three exhibition games in August. “We’re glad we finally saw that same energy tonight. It couldn’t have come at a better time as we enter the MEAC tournament.”
Siverand started the season as the Aggies starter but eventually saw his playing time dwindled to the point where he has participated in 12 games this season where he didn’t reach at least 10 minutes played. But he took over for freshman Steven Burrough over the first five minutes of the game. Despite his presence, the Aggies still trailed 33-22 at the half.
But Siverand opened the second half with a lob pass from Beckford from the high post and made a spin move toward the basket for a dunk. He then knocked the ball away from S.C. State guard Theron Stephens, which led to a Bruce Beckford layup. By the time Siverand took another pass from the high post from Beckford and scored, it completed what turned out to be a 13-0 A&T run to open the first 4 ½ minutes of the second half.
“We hadn’t been getting contributions from any of our post players other than Bruce, so somebody had to step up,” said Alexander. “It’s like I’ve been playing with a deck of cards when it comes to our bigs, hoping what I pulled out worked. This time I pulled Waylan out, and he was able to come through.”
A&T was eventually able to grow its lead to nine at 56-47 with 4:27 to play. But the Bulldogs (9-19, 5-10 MEAC) made a frantic run toward the end of the game by using pressure to cause A&T turnovers. They used a Michael Briscoe turnover to convert on a Jordan Smith 3-point play that tied the game at 58 with 2:20 to play.
With the shot clock running down, Middleton answered with a jumper from the corner to give A&T the lead back. After Bulldogs guard Jalen White turned it over, Siverand made one of two free throws to give A&T a 61-58 advantage. Darryl Palmer cut A&T’s lead to one with a dunk after catching a lob pass from White with 15 seconds remaining.
Briscoe, the Aggies backup point guard, raced the ball up floor but found himself trapped by two Bulldog defenders. As he tried to split the double team he was fouled Adama Adams. Briscoe made one of his two free throws to put A&T ahead 62-60 with 5.1 seconds remaining.
In attempt to send the game into overtime, White went baseline, had a clean look at a layup but missed it as time expired. Jordan Smith led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while White added 14.
The win keeps the Aggies out of the 12th or 13th seed for next week’s MEAC tournament, which would mean a Monday game for the Aggies instead of Tuesday. A&T was able to win despite Beckford and senior point guard Jeremy Underwood fouling out. A&T closes out the regular season 8 p.m., Thursday at Hampton.
“We just challenged them to see if they could bring enough energy to win on Lamont and Jeremy’s last game in Corbett,” said Alexander. “I was happy to see a young man like Siverand respond.”