GREENSBORO (February 3, 2018) – North Carolina A&T lost their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game in women’s basketball this season not because they had an off day offensively. It was an off day, defensively.
The Hampton Pirates got 13 points apiece from Monnazjea Finney-Smith and Ashley Bates to defeat the Aggies 63-51 at Corbett Sports Center Saturday afternoon. The Aggies had their eight-game winning streak and five-game home winning streak ended by the Pirates who have taken seven of eight from the Aggies. Sophomore Alexus Lessears had 12 points and five rebounds on 4-for-6 shooting.
N.C. A&T (12-8, 7-1 MEAC) shot only 32.7 percent from the field against the Pirates (10-11, 6-2 MEAC). But the Aggies only shot 37.2 percent during their eight-game winning streak. The eight-game winning streak was constructed through defense. The Aggies held their previous eight opponents to 33 percent shooting, while forcing an incredible 25.3 turnovers per game.
On Saturday, the Pirates shot 42.6 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 19 times. Hampton offset that by outscoring the Aggies 24-16 in points off turnovers thanks to 23 mishaps from the Aggies.
Hampton went 4-for-8 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. It allowed the Pirates to take their biggest lead of the game at 50-30 with 3:04 remaining in the period. It inspired N.C. A&T’s best offesnive output of the game.
The Aggies closed the third quarter by hitting 5 of 6 from the floor as a part of a 10-0 run to cut the Pirates lead to 50-40 going into the fourth quarter. Sophomore Shantell Bostick had four points and two assists during the run. Hampton grew their lead back out to 14 over the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but back-to-back baskets by Lessears was complemented by a steal and layup from Bostick to get the Aggies to within eight at 54-46 with 4:46 remaining in the game.
But the Aggies never got any closer. Shayla Wright-Ponder ended the Aggies run with a layup thanks to a pass to the interior by Finney-Smith. N.C. A&T got the lead to nine twice over the final four minutes, but Mikayla Sayle’s layup with 1:13 to play gave the Pirates a comfortable 60-48 lead.
The Pirates challenged the Aggies formidable defense early. A 9-0 run in the first quarter gave Hampton a 19-8 lead with 3:34 remaining in the first. Hampton then shot 54.5 percent in the second quarter to take a 37-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
If the Aggies want to close out on a high note against the Pirates it will have to be in the MEAC Championship Basketball Tournament in March because the Pirates are leaving the MEAC for the Big South. In the meantime, the Aggies will focus their attention on Delaware State who comes into the Corbett Sports Center 5:30 p.m., Monday. The Aggies beat Delaware State 66-48 at Memorial Hall in Dover, Del., earlier this season.