Eagles pull out win in home finale
N.C. Central kept shooing the pesky S.C. State Bulldogs before finally putting them away 62-54 in the Eagles’ final home game of the regular season Monday night in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men’s basketball.
S.C. State (5-23, 1-14 MEAC) hasn’t won many games this season, but the Bulldogs just wouldn’t roll over for the Eagles (21-8, 14-1).
“They’re a tough team, and you’ve got to put them away,” NCCU point guard Emanuel Chapman said. “You have to step on their necks, because they’re not going to go down.”
NCCU shot 53.8 percent from the floor.
“They wouldn’t let us knock them out,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said. “We didn’t do the necessary things that we needed to do to finish the game. I thought we just got into our own zone at times.”
NCCU wraps up its regular season on Thursday at Hampton before entering next week’s MEAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed.
“They just came in with their hardhats on,” NCCU senior Ray Willis said.
S.C. State was tougher than NCCU on the backboards, winning the rebound battle 38-22. The Bulldogs just couldn’t get enough shots to fall late in the game.
“I’ve got a tough bunch of guys,” S.C. State coach Murray Garvin said. “We just have to learn how to win and execute down the stretch. There were a couple of plays that if we take back and execute, it would have been a closer game.”
NCCU’s Stanton Kidd scored a game-high 20 points including several dunks.
“The layups I did have, I missed them,” Kidd said. “Coach got on me about that, so I tried to dunk the ball every chance I got.”
Jeremy Ingram scored 14 points for NCCU, while Devin Joint scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds for S.C. State.
Willis said the key to the game was NCCU managing to string together some defensive stops that allowed the Eagles to get some points in transition.
The S.C. State-NCCU game was the last opportunity for Willis, a senior, to get up and down the floor in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium.
“You knew this moment is coming, so you get prepared for this months ago,” Willis said. “So I’ve already lived this moment in terms of it being my last time in here. It was a great experience. I love it.”
Phil Ford, the point guard known for running North Carolina coach Dean Smith’s four-corners offense, was taking in the S.C. State-NCCU game and kept pointing out how well Moton’s team was executing.
“I paid him $20 to say that, man,” Moton said. “We were awful. We had too many turnovers.
“We got a win. I’m satisfied with that, but not in the manner in which we went about getting one. Hat’s off to S.C. State. They had a lot to do with that. So we win and we move on.”
NCCU 62, SCSU 54
Percentages: FG .373, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 6-20, .300 (Toombs 2-3, Adams 2-4, Radovic 1-3, Joint 1-4, Mitchell 0-3, Palmer 0-3). Team Rebounds: 0. Blocked Shots: 1 (Joint). Turnovers: 18 (Mitchell 5, Toombs 4, Adams 3, Joint 2, Palmer 2, Hezekiah, Myers). Steals: 10 (Joint 3, Toombs 2, Mitchell, Hezekiah, Palmer, Adams, Myers).
Percentages: FG .538, FT .750. 3-Point Goals: 5-12, .417 (Ingram 2-5, Chapman 1-1, Kidd 1-1, Willis 1-3, Jawara 0-1, Galaya 0-1). Team Rebounds: 0. Blocked Shots: 4 (Willis, Houston, Jawara, Ingram). Turnovers: 16 (Chapman 8, Ingram 2, Willis 2, Ferguson, Williams, Houston, Jawara). Steals: 4 (Kidd 2, Ingram, Chapman).
A—912. Officials—James Barker, Bernard Clinton, Jackie Sanders.