1st place NCCU men rein in MEAC rival N.C. A&T on the road
N.C. Central beat N.C. A&T 73-55 on Saturday, sweeping the series with its main rival.
Of course, the Eagles did the same thing last season, only to have A&T knock them out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament.
A&T won the MEAC Tournament and got the league’s lone bid to the NCAA Tournament.
That’s where NCCU (21-5, 12-1 MEAC) wants to be in a few weeks.
The Eagles’ goals go far beyond the regular season, but NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said his team’s most recent win against the Aggies still meant something.
“Every win matters. We ain’t Kansas or Duke, where you walk in our gym and people take winning for granted,” Moton said. “We’re not going to take winning for granted. We’re not that team. We understand that we can step out on this floor every single night and beat anyone, but we also understand that we can step out on that floor every single night and get beat.”
That wasn’t happening this weekend with NCCU holding A&T’s shooters to 29.8 percent from the field.
NCCU shot 40 percent from the field, led by Jeremy Ingram’s game-high 30 points. He shot 50 percent from the field and made 11 of 15 free throws.
“Nothing phases him,” Moton said. “It’s like, 30 points in a hostile environment.”
“You’ve got to come ready to play,” Ingram said.
Ingram had a swagger about him.
“He was so comfortable at one time, he hit one and posed for the camera,” Moton said. “So I jumped in him and told him we had more work to do.”
Alfonzo Houston put on his NCCU hard hat and scored 21 points. NCCU point guard Emanuel Chapman had eight assists.
A&T was limited without Richaud Pack’s 17.5 points per game. An injury forced him to miss the game.
A&T guard Lamont Middleton also was averaging 17.5 points per game, and he scored 15 against NCCU.
Aggies big man Bruce Beckford scored 15, too, but he didn’t get much help in the frontcourt, A&T coach Cy Alexander said.
“I thought we were a little timid trying to throw the ball in the post,” Alexander said. “I don’t think we threw it in enough.”
A&T (8-20, 4-9 MEAC) has some big guys who are young, and they have to get better offensively, Alexander said.
Alexander had a big-picture approach to the NCCU loss. He remembers how A&T got hot last season and ran the table in the MEAC Tournament. What the Aggies need to do now is end the four-game losing skid and put some wins together to create the type of momentum that allowed them to upset NCCU last year when it mattered most.
On Saturday, NCCU won handily despite having three players foul out.
“I was going to have to check in,” Moton quipped.
Starting forwards Karamo Jawara and Jay Copeland went to the bench for good with 4:58 and 2:37 left in the game, respectively. Hybrid guard Jordan Parks fouled out with 20.3 seconds left in the game. They scored eight points between them.
“That’s horrible,” Moton said. “We were just fouling way too much.”
Not as much as A&T.
“We put (NCCU) on the line 51 times. It was way too much,” Alexander said.
The Aggies shot 33 free throws.
|NC CENTRAL 73, NC A&T 55|
Percentages: FG .400, FT .725.
3-Point Goals: 4-14, .286 (Ingram 3-7, Chapman 1-2, Jawara 0-1, Groves 0-4).
Team Rebounds: 6.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Copeland, Parks, Jawara, Ingram).
Turnovers: 8 (Copeland 2, Parks 2, Chapman 2, Ingram).
Steals: 8 (Ingram 3, Chapman 3, Groves, Copeland).
Technical Fouls: Jawara.
Percentages: FG .298, FT .697.
3-Point Goals: 4-20, .200 (Underwood 2-5, Abdullah 1-4, Middleton 1-6, Keyes 0-1, Beckford 0-2, Doby 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 7 (Siverand 3, Akinkugbe 2, Keyes, Beckford).
Turnovers: 16 (Underwood 7, Beckford 5, Briscoe, Middleton, Abdullah, Siverand).
Steals: 3 (Middleton, Keyes, Abdullah).
Technical Fouls: Middleton.
Officials_Everett Summers, Ernest Prevost, Carl Blair.