North Carolina Central University’s stingy second-half defense along with clutch free-throw shooting was just enough for the maroon and gray to earn the 51-47 victory over the Aggies of North Carolina A&T inside a sold out McDougald-McLendon Gym on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagle defense held the Aggies to 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) shooting from the field in the second half as the Aggies were also 1-for-8 (12.5 percent) from the outside in the final stanza. Not to mention, A&T also finished the ballgame 6-for-19 (31.6 percent) from the foul line.
NCCU on the other hand ended the night an astonishing 19-for-21 (90.5 percent) from the foul line en route to earning the second consecutive season sweep over the A&T.
The Aggies came out fired up in the first half, storming out to an 11-3 lead after Jeremy Underwood’s layup. A&T started the game 5-for-6 from the field.
NC A&T’s led 18-9 following another Underwood basket, and junior Stanton Kidd (Baltimore, Md.) responded with a put-back dunk that got the Eagle momentum rolling.
NCCU cut the deficit to five following two made free-throws by junior Drimir Ferguson (Bronx, N.Y.) at 18-13, but the Aggies’ Adrian Powell drilled a three to stretch the lead back to eight at 21-13.
A&T pushed the lead to its largest of the day at 25-13, and that’s when the maroon and gray responded with a 9-2 run to cut the margin back to five at 27-22 after junior Jeremy Ingram’s (Charlotte, N.C.) three-pointer with 4:55 to go.
The Aggies countered back with a Jean Louisme shot from the outside to spread the lead back to eight, but Antonin Galaya (St. Martin, French West Indies) scored the last five points for the Eagles as they cut the deficit to three heading into the locker room at 30-27.
In the second frame, NCCU kept throwing haymakers at NC A&T, but the Aggies were not budging in the early portion. It took the Eagles until the 13:11 mark in the second half when Ingram drilled a three-pointer that the maroon and gray took their first lead of the game at 38-37 sending the capacity crowd into a frenzy.
On the next possession senior Ray Willis (Atlanta, Ga.) got his own three-point play to put the Eagles ahead for good at 41-38 with 11:47 to go.
The largest lead for NCCU in the second half came on a Kidd layup to give the Eagles a 45-38 lead with 10:11 remaining.
Over the next nine minutes the Eagles were held without a field goal, but shut the Aggies down to six points during that span.
With the score 45-44 in favor of NCCU, Emanuel Chapman (Raleigh, N.C.) practically sealed the deal for the maroon and gray with his runner on the right side to give the Eagles a three-point advantage down the stretch.
Clutch free-throw shooting by Willis and Ingram, along with a couple a lucky bounces helped the Eagles pull out the 51-47 win over the Aggies.
Kidd and Ingram both scored 14 points apiece to lead the way for the maroon and gray as Kidd notched six boards, while Ingram pulled down five.
NC A&T (13-14, 6-7) was led by Underwood finished with 11 points, but the Eagles turned the ball over 19 times in the win. Chapman and Ingram accounted for 13 of those miscues.
NCCU (19-8, 12-1 MEAC) will have a week off to rest and get ready for the return match against the Tigers of Savannah State University. SSU beat NCCU on Feb. 16, 44-36 down in Savannah, Ga. for the only conference loss of the year for the maroon and gray.
Stay up-to-date with North Carolina Central University Athletics by flying over to www.NCCUEaglePride.com, the official website of NCCU Athletics.