GREENSBORO (January 13, 2018) – At the start of the fourth quarter during the North Carolina A&T women’s basketball game against Morgan State at Corbett Sports Center Saturday, senior leader Kala Green left the game with an injury and did not return.
With Green out, her gym rat partner and sophomore Cinia McCray stepped in to pick up some of the slack. McCray scored 12 of her game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter to lead N.C. A&T to a 67-60 win over the Bears. Sophomore Shantell Bostick contributed 14 points, and the Aggies (7-7, 2-0 MEAC) got 13 points from Green before she went out. The Aggies had a 38-7 advantage in bench points with McCray's and Bostick's production coming off the bench along with graduate forward Jade Scaife's eight points.
“Kala is like my right hand, we stay in the gym together,” said McCray, who was held scoreless in the first half. “It was sad I couldn't help out earlier, but when she went out I felt like I had to step up in a major way to impact the game offensively and defensively.”
When Green left the game, the Aggies led 45-44. N.C. A&T responded with a steal by Mikaya Wilson and a jump shot from McCray. The Bears (10-7, 3-1 MEAC) ran off the next seven points to take a 51-47 lead. The Aggies regained the lead at 53-52 on a McCray 3-point play with 6:22 remaining in the game. After two Lexus Spears free throws for the Bears gave the game its 11th lead change, McCray netted another three to put the Aggies ahead 56-54 with 4:35 remaining.
“Cinia is our third-leading scorer, she has that experience in how to impact the game,” said N.C. A&T coach Tarrell Robinson. “Our depth is one of our most advantageous things this year, and I trust all our young women for at least 20 minutes to help our program win. Kala went out and Cinia stepped up … Shantell Bostick stepped up … I’m proud of that.”
After McCray’s three, Spears took a pass from Adre’onia Coleman to tie the game for the seventh time. But free throws from McCray and Bostick would seal the win for the Aggies. Bostick started by hitting one of two. Bostick followed by grabbing a miss from teammate C’Coriea Foy and swinging a pass over to McCray.
McCray shot a three from near the Aggies bench deep in the corner and was fouled by Tykyrah Williams. McCray swished three free throws to give the Aggies a 60-56 lead with 3:52 remaining. The Aggies were 8-for-14 over the final four minutes at the line and Foy added a layup in the process to give the Aggies a 66-58 lead with 51 seconds remaining to all but put the game away.
The Aggies are in the midst of their longest winning streak of the season – three. They are looking to get above .500 for the first time since they were 1-0 in early in November when they face Coppin State at 5:30 p.m., Monday at Corbett Sports Center.
“In non-conference play we've had better teams in our gym, we've played against better teams at this point,” said Robinson. “We've got to recognize that our best, whatever it is that day, is good enough to get us a victory.”
N.C. A&T kept the faith despite trailing by 12 points in the first half on a Coleman jumper. The Bears still led by nine, 32-23, with 1:23 to play in the first half. A 7-0 run to end the first half served as the Aggies spark plug in the second as Green ended the half with a transition three to send the Aggies into the locker room down 32-30.
Williams and Coleman led the Bears with 14 points apiece.
“Being 2-0 is very important because have the confidence to realize we are the better team in the conference. We need to keep it up and not relax.”