WASHINGTON, DC (January 22, 2018) – A few things became abundantly evident during North Carolina A&T’s first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference loss on Monday. The Aggies are made up of a group of men who do not believe they are ever out of a game. They are resilient and fearless in clutch situation and their depth produces an expected major contributor almost every game.
After being offered numerous opportunities to roll over for the Howard Bison, the Aggies rallied back numerous times before a Femi Olujobi 3-pointer went long at the buzzer to give Howard a 90-88 overtime win over the Aggies at Burr Gymnasium.
It was the Aggies (12-9, 5-1 MEAC) first loss in five games, putting N.C. A&T a half game behind Bethune-Cookman for first place in the MEAC. Senior Davaris McGowens led the Aggies with 21 points and 14 rebounds as he recorded his eighth career double-double. Olujobi also posted a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. It was his seventh double-double of the season.
Juniors Kwei Lartey and Malik Gantz have played a lot lately, yet both men came off the bench to score eight while redshirt junior Amari Hamilton scored 10 off the bench. Junior Aaren Edmead finished with 14 points.
Edmead was a part of a thrilling albeit unexpected final 25 seconds of regulation Monday night. With the Aggies trailing 71-66 with 21 seconds remaining in the game, Edmead pulled up from deep and swished a 3-pointer to pull the Aggies to within two. Fifth-year forward Denzel Keyes then stole inbounds pass, dished it over to graduate guard Devonte Boykins who found McGowens underneath to tie the game at 71 with 15 seconds remaining.
Howard (5-17, 2-4 MEAC) did not waste any time. Kyle Foster raced the ball up the floor and scored on a layup, leaving only 5.6 seconds remaining. It was enough time for Boykins to sprint back the other way where he found a streaking McGowens he hit with a precise bounce pass that led to the game-tying layup with 0.1 seconds on the game clock as the two teams went into overtime tied at 73.
The Bison, who led by as many as 16 on Monday, looked to have the game iced when R.J. Cole broke free from the Aggies full court trap and found Charles Williams for an alley-oop dunk in front of a raucous Bison crowd. The slam gave the Bison an 86-47 lead with 41 seconds remaining. That nearly wasn’t enough.
McGowens quickly answered with a layup and when Cole missed two free throws on the other end, Edmead capitalized by burying another 3-pointer to pull the Aggies to within four, 86-82, with 17 seconds remaining in overtime. Two Williams free throws looked sufficient enough again to put the Aggies away, but Edmead came up with another huge shot with 10 seconds to go to bring the Aggies to within three. But Edmead was forced to foul Dalique Mingo on the inbounds pass to stop the clock. It was his fifth foul of the ball game, sending the 3-point threat to the bench for the game.
Mingo hit both free throws to put the Bison up 90-85. But the Bison could not get enough of Aggie comebacks on Monday as Cole bumped Hamilton who was attempted a 3-pointer. The foul gave Hamilton three free throws that he subsequently made to bring the Aggies to within two, 90-88. Hamilton quickly fouled Cole after making his free throws and Cole benefited the Aggies again by missing both free throws as the Aggies raced the ball just past half court and called timeout with 2.4 seconds remaining.
After the timeout, Olujobi popped open for the open look but could not connect.
Despite Olujobi’s miss, it was a game that showed the character of the Aggies. The Aggies were down 16 in the first half before cutting it to nine just before the half and just before Dingo’s 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer gave Howard a 41-29 halftime lead.
N.C. A&T managed to get to within five over the first eight minutes of the second before Howard got the lead back to 12 with 10 minutes remaining in the half, setting up the Aggies come-from-behind effort.
Cole led Howard with 23 points while Williams had 22. N.C. A&T returns home for their highly-anticipated tilt with N.C. Central 2 p.m., Saturday at Corbett Sports Center.