GREENSBORO (January 15, 2018) – Saturday the deficit was 12 at Corbett Sports Center. On Monday, it was even worse at Corbett as the Aggies trailed by 14 in the fourth quarter. It didn’t matter. The results were the same.
Two days after rallying to beat Morgan State, the North Carolina A&T women’s basketball team rallied to defeat the other Baltimore school in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Coppin State, 64-63 on an Alexus Lessears layup.
“I think we have a special team,” said graduate forward Jade Scaife, who registered her first double-double as an Aggie after transferring from UNC Greensboro as she finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. “I know everyone believes in each other, and I see the fight in everyone. That’s what really helps us in games like these. We come together and keep pushing even when adversity hits.”
Tough times were upon the Aggies (8-7, 3-0 MEAC) when Coppin’s Maraiyah Smith hit a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 59-52 lead with 4 ½ minutes remaining. Sophomore C’Coriea Foy kept the Aggies going with a 3-pointer from the corner. Oluwadamilol Oloyede put the Eagles ahead by six with a jump shot before senior Quenswayla Story’s short jumper from the corner got the Aggies to within four, 61-57 with 2:54 remaining.
A minute later Oloyede took a pass from Genesis Lucas and scored to give the Eagles a 63-57 lead with less than two minutes remaining. Sophomore Cinia McCray, who scored 12 fourth-quarter points on Saturday, came up big again in the final period as she connected on a 3-pointer to get the Aggies to within three.
The Aggies then forced Lucas into a trap where she eventually turned the ball over, leading to Chrishyanah Alston’s nerve-racking jump shot that bounced around the rim a few times before dropping through the hoop to make it 63-62 with 47 seconds to go. Sophomore Le’on Hill came with an enormous block on Lucas to give the Aggies an opportunity to take the lead.
But Hill missed two free throws on the other end, giving the Eagles (3-14, 2-3 MEAC) the ball back. Fortunately, Lucas returned the favor by missing two free throws. N.C. A&T regained possession, called timeout and moved the ball into the frontcourt.
N.C. A&T head coach Tarrell Robinson used it to call a play for his two post players. The 6-foot-2-inch Hill inbounded the basketball and lobbed a long pass into the post to 6-3 Alexus Lessears for an easy layup and a 64-63 lead with 4.1 seconds remaining. A Coppin turnover sealed the win for the Aggies who have now won four straight to improve to 7-2 at home.
“I knew they were going to play Cinia and C'Coriea Foy, our first and third-leading scorers,” said Robinson who was without his second-leading scorer in senior Kala Green. “(Alexus) was having an off day and I knew there bigs were in foul trouble, so they were going to have someone smaller on (Alexus). We were down one, so we didn’t need a jump shot. All we needed was a layup. Hats off to Le’on Hill, that was a heckuva pass.
To get to the point where all they needed was a layup, the Aggies had to come back from a 14-point deficit after leading by five, 36-31, at halftime. Lucas then became a problem in the third quarter as she posted 14 of her game-high 22 points in the third. Her jumper at the end of the third quarter gave the Eagles a 52-41 lead going into the fourth quarter.
A chance Graham free throw gave the Eagles a 55-41 lead with 9:10 to go in the game before the Aggies made their rally. Foy led the Aggies with 15 points and Alston added 11.
“Our fan support was tremendous tonight,” said Robinson. “Our fans got us going, and I think that really brought us through both games (Morgan and Coppin). This is really a tough group and to deal with this adversity and fight through it and have success it only creates more buy-in.”
Robinson will need some more buy-in and fan support on Wednesday as the Aggies welcome in Norfolk State (9-5, 2-0 MEAC) at 5:30 p.m.