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Aggies Fall Short In Comeback Attempt vs. B-CU

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 02/27/2017
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Junior Eliel Gonzalez scored 18 of his team-high 20 points in the second half on Monday against Bethune-Cookman. Photo by Kevin L. Dorsey
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information

GREENSBORO (February 27, 2017) – North Carolina A&T used a new lineup to open the second half and made one of its best comeback attempts of the season before losing to Bethune-Cookman 73-70 in men’s basketball Monday night at Corbett Sports Center.

Redshirt sophomore Amari Hamilton’s long desperation 3-point shot at the buzzer fell short as the Wildcats avoided blowing a 21-point lead.

Junior Eliel Gonzalez led the Aggies with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists. Gonzalez’s four 3-pointers were a season-high as he scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half. Sophomore Martin Jones II finished with a career-high 12 points with all 12 of his points coming in the second half. Junior Davaris McGowens and freshman Raymon Pratt added 11 and 10 points respectively.

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N.C. A&T started the game with Sam Hunt, James Whitaker, Davaris McGowens, Austin Williams and Eliel Gonzalez on the floor. Over the first seven minutes of the game, the Wildcats built a 22-4 lead behind four 3-point shots. That lead grew to 21, 38-17, after Brandon Tabb connected on a 3-pointer. Behind a 3-point play and a layup from McGowens, the Aggies scored eight unanswered points to end the half trailing 38-25.

Aggies head coach Jay Joyner decided to open the second half differently. Jones, Pratt, Gonzalez, McGowens and Williams. Within three minutes of the second half starting, the Wildcats (8-21, 5-10 MEAC) lead was down to five at 40-35. The Wildcats scored the next five points to build a working lead throughout the second half. But that lead started to dwindle Behind a 3-pointer from Jones that cut the Wildcats lead to 63-59 with 4 ½ minutes to play.

Jones chopped the Wildcats lead to three 2 ½ minutes later with another 3-pointer to make it 67-64. Jones made one of two free throws to get the lead to two. After Williams felled to tie the score with a short jumper, the Wildcats hit two free throws to take a 69-65 lead with 15 seconds remaining. Following a timeout by Joyner, Jones drove baseline to get the lead down to 69-67. Baker hit two more free throws to get the lead to four before Gonzalez raced down the floor and swished a three to make it 71-70 game with 2.7 seconds remaining.

Baker continued his hot streak at the line by knocking down two more free throws to set up Hamilton’s last-second heave. Tabb and Baker led the Wildcats with 22 points apiece. The two men combined to hit 10 3-pointers.

N.C. A&T (2-28, 0-15 MEAC), who shot 57.1 percent in the second half, will close out the regular season against arch-rival North Carolina Central Thursday night at 7:30 at Corbett.

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