DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 26, 2018) – North Carolina A&T women’s basketball rolled into Moore Gymnasium and pulled out a huge road victory over the previously undefeated in the conference Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, 62-55 on Monday.
"I am extremely proud of them,” said N.C. A&T coach Tarrell Robinson. “We knew the atmosphere was going to be tough and how prepared Bethune-Cookman would be. Our young women were focused. They found a way to fight through the season, to fight through adversity, and they did it together. They know that we do it with defense. I am so proud of them, and we got the result that we wanted. Our job isn't over yet.”
With the win the Aggies (19-8, 14-1 MEAC) moved into a first-place tie in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings with the Wildcats (22-5, 14-1 MEAC) with one game remaining in the regular season. By beating the Wildcats head-to-head, the Aggies will earn the No. 1 seed at the 2018 MEAC Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament (March 5-10) with a win at archrival N.C. Central on Thursday (5:30 p.m. tip).
They will also win at least a share of the conference’s regular-season title. The Aggies defeated the Eagles 67-54 on Jan. 27 in Corbett in the teams’ first meeting of the season.
Sophomores C’Coriea finished with a team-high 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field to go along with five assists. Sophomore Alexus Lessears picked up her sixth double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Aggie defense came up with 11 steals which led to 17 B-CU turnovers.
After trailing the Wildcats by one at halftime, the Aggies came out in the third quarter and controlled the game. Senior Quenswayla Story’s jumper started an 8-0 run by N.C. A&T that put them on top 37-32 three minutes into the quarter.
Sophomore Shantell Bostick made two free throws followed by back-to-back layups by Foy. B-CU cut the deficit to one before a 3-pointer by Foy increased the Aggie lead to four, 40-36 with 4:26 to play in the third. Charnise Tyler then found Jade Scaife for another Aggies basket before the Wildcats closed the quarter on a 7-2 run to go into the fourth quarter trailing by just one, 44-43.
B-CU tied the score up at 46 three minutes into the fourth. They tied it again at 48 on two Brianna Hardee free throws. Sophomore Cinia McCray then started the process of the Aggies starting to take control of the game. She hit four straight free throws that was complemented by a 3-point play from Lessears to give the Aggies a 55-48 advantage with 3:48 on the clock.
The Wildcats got to the line their next two times down the floor and made 3 of 4 free throws, cutting the Aggie lead to 55-52. Senior Kala Green drove to the rim and scored with 1:42 remaining to push the Aggies lead back to five, 57-52. After a Hardee jumper, Foy slid her way through the Wildcats defense and dropped a floater for a 59-54 lead with 70 seconds remaining.
Defense did the rest for the Aggies. Over the final minute, the Wildcats went 0-for-4 from the floor and when B-CU’s Emily Williams turned the ball over with 21 seconds to play, the Aggies had claimed their portion of first place in the MEAC.
"We aren't champs yet, but we positioned ourselves to be regular-season champions, and we do not want to let NC Central be spoilers by looking past them,” said Robinson. “Again, we are one step closer to our goal. We will prepare the way we always do and then we have to go down there and take care of business in Durham."
N.C. A&T was not intimated by hostile Moore Gymnasium from the beginning. Green’s layup at the 4:11 mark of the second period gave the Aggies a 23-18 advantage, their largest lead of the first half. BCU responded by hitting a layup and a Williams 3-poniter tied things up at 23. With 1:32 remaining in the half, Lessears grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back quickly giving N.C. A&T a 27-23 lead. The Wildcats closed the second quarter on a 5-0 run to take a slight 28-27 lead at halftime.
Bethune-Cookman’s Brianna Battle finished with a game-high 21 points and had 11 rebounds off the bench.