DURHAM (March 1, 2018) – When the final chapter is written about the 2017-18 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women’s basketball co-champion North Carolina A&T Aggies, a big part of the story will be their 8-0 road conference record.
N.C. A&T put the completions to their perfect road record against conference foes Thursday night with a 60-57 come- from-behind win over chief rival N.C. Central in the McDougald-McLendon Arena. The win was capped off by a Quenswayla Story jumper with 24 seconds to play.
The win clinched the No. 1 seed for the Aggies heading into the March 5-10 2018 MEAC Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament at Scope Arena in Norfolk, Va.
The Aggies (20-8, 15-1 MEAC) won their eighth regular-season title and their second in the past three years. The 20-win season marks the fourth for N.C. A&T coach Tarrell Robinson over his six-year tenure. It is third time in program history the Aggies have won 15 of 16 conference games.
The Aggies first game in the tournament will be Wednesday at noon against the winner of No. 8 N.C. Central and No. 9 S.C. State, a Tuesday game scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
Sophomore Shantell Bostick scored a career-high scoring 15 points while tying a career-best with seven rebounds. Bostick made 5 of 8 field goals and 5 of 6 free throws as the Aggies went 19-for-27 from the line as a team. Senior Kala Green was the other Aggie double-figure scorer with 15 points off the bench hitting 6 of 10 shots from the field. Graduate forward Jade Scaife added eight points and sophomore C’Coriea Foy also scored eight. Sophomore Alexus Lessears finished with a game-high 15 rebounds marking her 11th 10-plus rebound performance of the season.
“I am extremely happy,” said N.C. A&T head women’s basketball coach Tarrell Robinson. “I told our ladies that they (NCCU) were the better team tonight, but we were the more determined team to come out of here with the victory.
I am extremely proud of my young women. We are champions and nobody can take that from us. We came into a dynamic environment, one of the best that I have been in whether as a player or coach, and I am happy that we were able to keep the tradition going. Tonight is our night, and we are champs.”
Foy’s jumper with 4:01 left in the fourth period gave the Aggies a 53-50 cushion. NCCU (9-20, 7-9 MEAC) answered right back bringing it to a one-point game. After three failed attempts at the rim by the Eagles, sophomore Cinia McCray hit a jumper from the left side of the court putting the Aggies ahead by three, 55-52. Then with 1:55 remaining, the Eagles tied it up with a hard drive to the basket by Kieche White for a 3-point play.
The Aggie defense came up huge over the next 72-seconds forcing the Eagles into three turnovers including a blocked shot by Foy forcing NCCU into a shot clock violation with one minute to play. Then the Aggies came up with a steal followed by a foul by the Eagles sending sophomore Le’on Hill to the free throw line. Hill split her attempts at the free throw line putting A&T ahead 56-55 with 43 seconds to go.
A foul was called on the Aggies with 34 seconds to play sending White to the line for two shots. White made both giving the Eagles their first lead since the 4:21 mark of the second quarter, 57-56. After an Aggies timeout, Story hit her game winner off an assist from Green. 58-57.The Eagles missed on their next attempt and quickly fouled sending Story to the free throw line where she made 1 of 2 for a 59-57 advantage. A final NCCU turnover with eight seconds to play sealed the win.
“I am hoping that this was the final test in terms of preparing for the tournament,” Robinson said. “This was tournament action tonight, every play, every possession was important. We found a way to come out with the victory. Right now, all that matters is the win.”
The Aggies trailed 14-2 over the first 4 1/2 minutes of the game. But the Aggies chipped away at the Eagles lead slowly. Bostick made a pair of free throws cutting the deficit to 27-25 in the second quarter. Scaife’s layup tied the game at 27 with 3:37 remaining in the first half. Lessears, who grabbed nine rebounds in the first half including four offensive rebounds, secured a missed shot and then scored on the put back while drawing a foul and completed the 3-point play giving the Aggies a 30-27 advantage with 1:17 to play in the first half. A bucket by Rodneysha Martin got the Eagles to within one at halftime. White led the Eagles with 22 points on Thursday.