NCCU wins ugly, but avenges Savannah State loss for 20th win
It wasn’t beautiful basketball, but N.C. Central figured out how to get the ball through the rim more often than Savannah State for a win that tightened the Eagles’ grip on second place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Saturday.
NCCU’s 51-47 victory over the Tigers in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium gave the Eagles their first 20-win season since the school jumped to Division I in 2011.
“It was ugly,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said. “That’s how they make you play. They make you play ugly. We were doing some ugly things, but they were doing some ugly things, too. It was ugly versus ugly, and the ugliest girl was going to win the pageant.”
Savannah State arrived in Durham both in third place in the MEAC and as the only team in the league to have beaten NCCU this season.
This time, the Eagles (20-8, 13-1 MEAC) scrapped harder, Moton said.
“With this team, we just wanted to be tough,” Moton said of the Tigers.
Moton is a stickler when it comes to playing fast and loose with the basketball, and NCCU’s 20 turnovers against Savannah State (17-12, 10-4 MEAC) is the sort of thing that normally is maddening to him. But he didn’t make a big deal about it because toughness, not turnovers, is what he was focusing on.
“I didn’t even look at the stat sheet completely yet. I just wanted us to be tough,” Moton said. “I can’t look at any player on my team and say we weren’t tough.”
NCCU point guard Emanuel Chapman, a brilliant set-up man, committed seven turnovers, more than anyone else. But he was making plays, too, not necessarily looking to score but taking and making shots at critical times the way he did a week prior in a win against rival N.C. A&T.
“For the past two games, it’s been an opening, and both of them have been layups,” Chapman said.
Chapman said offensive opportunities come his way when teammates like Stanton Kidd (10 points) start making shots.
Chapman’s layup with 2:45 left in the game gave NCCU a 46-42 lead.
NCCU senior Ray Willis (10 points) made some free throws after that before Alfonzo Houston came off the bench and got free for a rim ripper that put the game out of reach with five seconds left.
Savannah State coach Horace Broadnax said NCCU’s zone and the McDougald-McLendon crowd made the difference this time.
NCCU’s ability to put the ball in the hole had something to do with the win, too, Moton said.
“We always played them well. We just had to be tougher and had to make some shots,” Moton said. “We shot 47 percent. Anytime you shoot 47 percent, you’ve got a chance to win a game.”
Kidd said, “We had to learn how to attack out of the press, and that’s what we’ve been doing all week.” Done right, it makes for strong finishes along the baseline, like the dunk NCCU’s DavRon Williams flushed in the first half, Kidd said Kidd seemed to have a made-up mind to dunk every time he went to the rim. He said he decided to forgo layups after Savannah State’s Jyles Smith pinned one of his shots to the glass.
“Either they’re going to foul me, or I’m going to get the and-one,” Kidd said.
Savannah State’s Preston Blackman was the only Tiger in double figures, but he led all scorers with 13 points.
Before the game, Willis and injured guard Ebuka Anyaorah were honored as part of NCCU’s Senior Day celebration.
|N.C. CENTRAL 51, SAVANNAH ST. 47|
Percentages: FG .391, FT .538.
3-Point Goals: 4-14, .286 (Hendley 1-2, Williams 1-3, Hutchins 1-3, Blackman 1-5, Wilson 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 7.
Blocked Shots: 3 (J. Smith 2, Hassan).
Turnovers: 18 (Blackman 5, Spears 3, Hassan 2, White 2, Williams 2, J. Smith, Louis, Hutchins, C. Smith).
Steals: 12 (Hassan 2, Louis 2, Burger, Spears, Wilson, Hendley, Hutchins, C. Smith, Blackman, J. Smith).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .474, FT .565.
3-Point Goals: 2-12, .167 (Willis 1-1, Galaya 1-4, Jawara 0-2, Kidd 0-2, Chapman 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 1 (Chapman).
Turnovers: 22 (Chapman 7, Willis 4, Kidd 4, Ingram 3, Galaya 2, Houston, Ferguson).
Steals: 7 (Kidd 4, Houston, Galaya, Willis).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials—Harold Harris, Carl Blair, Rick Pate.