ORGANGEBURG, SC (February 10, 2018) – In late January, North Carolina A&T women’s basketball coach Tarrell Robinson listed what his expectations are for his 6-foot-3 sophomore center Alexus Lessears. On that list was being a presence on both ends of the floor, getting the Aggies second opportunities through her offensive rebounding, ending possessions with her defensive rebounding and deflecting shots on the defensive end.
As it turns out, Robinson is getting that and much more from Lessears. Lessears helped the Aggies improve to 4-0 in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference road games Saturday afternoon with 12 points and 14 rebounds on 4-for-7 shooting from the field as the Aggies took down S.C. State 74-54 at SHM Memorial Center. It was Lessears’ seventh career double-double.
In her last five games, Lessears has recorded three double-figure rebounding games, two double-doubles (rebounding and scoring), she has reached double-figure scoring in three straight games and over her last three games the 45.2 percent free throw shooter is 10-for-14 (.714) from the line.
But according to Robinson, that is not the extent of her ascension into a dominant post presence.
“You can tell in practice she has a different focus and edge to her,” said Robinson who saw his team improve to 14-8 overall and 9-1 in the MEAC. “You can hear her talking throughout the game and getting on people. She is not only developing into a dominant factor on the floor, she is also developing into a leader.”
Lessears’ emergence was not SCSU’s only problem. Sophomore C’Coriea Foy got off to a fast start Saturday and never relented. She perhaps had her best overall game as an Aggie with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists. She was 5-for-9 from 3-point range.
“When she is on, it really helps everyone’s confidence,” said Robinson. “(N.C. A&T guards) Cinia McCray and Kala Green feed off her. Our point guards Shantell Bostick and Mikaya Wilson look for her on the floor. When she’s on, it’s special.”
N.C. A&T ended the first quarter on back-to-back 3-point makes from Foy to take a 19-9 lead. N.C. A&T owned the game from there. Senior Quenswayla Story, who finished the game with 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting, opened the second quarter by hitting an open jump shot. Foy followed with another 3-pointer to put the Aggies ahead 24-9. Eventually the Aggies lead grew to 20, 35-15, on another Story jumper with 48 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Aggies went up as many as 23 in the second half as Lessears recorded six rebounds – four offensive – in the third quarter. Of course, N.C. A&T’s defense showed up again, holding the Bulldogs (9-14, 4-7 MEAC) to four first-half field goals and 28.3 percent shooting for the game.
The Aggies had a 19-10 advantage in second-chance points, a 34-18 edge in points in the paint and they outscored the Bulldogs 23-9 in points off turnovers. The Aggies have won seven straight over SCSU.
“South Carolina State doesn’t lose in their gym, and we knew the atmosphere was going to be what it was,” said Robinson who improved 7-1 against the Bulldogs in his coaching career. “They beat the team that beat us (Hampton), so this was as huge as a road win as the one I praised them for at Howard because of that atmosphere. I was happy to get the win as we continue to put ourselves in position to win a championship.”
The Aggies, who have won 10 of 11, will continue their swing through the deep south of the MEAC with a 6 p.m., Monday contest at Savannah State. N.C. A&T remains a game behind first-place Bethune-Cookman who is 10-0 in the league.