Groves leads balanced attack as NCCU stops Bethune-Cookman
What a difference a little defense makes.
Bethune-Cookman arrived at N.C. Central's McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium after shooting a scintillating 70.7 percent from the field against S.C. State on Monday.
NCCU threw cold water on the Wildcats in a 77-54 win on Saturday.
Bethune-Cookman shot 40.5 percent against NCCU and 37.5 percent from behind the 3-point line, down from an 83.3 percent clip earlier in the week against S.C. State.
“They were really hot coming in,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said. “I think last game they made 15 3-pointers.”
NCCU put all of that on ice.
It was a lukewarm performance, Moton said.
“Our thing is we don’t want teams to shoot over 40 percent. Bethune shot 40.5 for the game. I think they shot, like, 48 percent in the second half, which is uncalled for,” Moton said.
Bethune-Cookman coach Gravelle Craig said it looked like the Eagles were playing pretty good defense when he looked out on the floor.
“They just guard you,” Craig said. “You’ve got to make shots against them. If you don’t make shots against them, you’re in trouble. You’ve got to shoot a high percentage. They’re gonna shoot 50 percent. So you’ve got to shoot a good percentage to be with them.”
NCCU shot 61.9 percent against Bethune-Cookman, including the first career double-double for point guard Emanuel Chapman (14 points, 11 assists).
Four Eagles scored in double figures, led by a game-high 15 points from Reggie Groves. All of his shots were 3-pointers, and he made 5 out of 6 of them.
“I’ve been feeling it over the last couple of games,” Groves said.
Chapman said he studies the great NBA point guards from back in the day and tries to do what they do — keep feeding the man who’s feeling it.
“When Reggie’s shooting the ball like he’s shooting the ball, all I have to do is kick it to him,” Chapman said.
Those 11 assists from Chapman demonstrated why he’s in his own space in that category in NCCU history.
“He’s the best — the best I’ve played with, the best I’ve seen,” Groves said, smiling at Chapman when he said that.
Shots falling from all over the gym are real cute and sexy — fans dig the 3-ball, Moton suggested.
But NCCU had better learn what it means to not just lock down guys on defense but keep them tied up, Moton said.
“That’s what happened with Malik Jackson,” Moton said about Bethune-Cookman’s top point producer on Saturday. “We relaxed. He’s a good player, and he hit one, and now we couldn’t contain him. He ended up with 14, and the only thing that saved us is he got in foul trouble. But he went on a tear on his own, and that’s what these kids don’t understand.”
NCCU took care of the basketball, finishing the game with 10 turnovers. The Eagles (18 assists) shared the ball and made 16 of 20 free throws.
Yet even though NCCU had 10 steals, Moton said his squad needs to turn it up on defense.
“They think I’m crazy,” Moton said, referring to the Eagles. “Our postgame speech was almost as if we lost by 20.”
A lot of Moton’s ire after the game was directed at Chapman and NCCU shooting guard Jeremy Ingram. Those two seniors have to understand that their energy and spirit sets the tone for the rest of the team, Moton said. They have to comprehend the magnitude of being in first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, affording the Eagles (15-5, 8-1 MEAC) a rare shot at controlling their postseason destiny, he added.
“In life, that’s all you really want, is an opportunity to dictate your fate,” Moton said. “The regrets come when you have that in the palm of your hand, and you do something silly the next day and now it’s all gone, and now you’re kicking yourself for the rest of your life.”
NOTES — NCCU’s victory over Bethune-Cookman (5-21, 3-8 MEAC) was the 20th straight win at home for the Eagles, establishing a school record. As home winning streaks go among NCAA Division I basketball teams, NCCU is tied for sixth place. Across town, Duke’s 29 consecutive home wins has the Blue Devils tied for first place in that regard.
|NC CENTRAL 77, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 54|
Percentages: FG .405, FT .778.
3-Point Goals: 6-16, .375 (Trapp 3-5, Jackson 2-5, Taylor 1-2, Simmons 0-1, Owens 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Jackson 2).
Turnovers: 20 (Simmons 5, Elliott 5, Kynard 3, Owens 3, Taylor, Jackson, Trapp, Dempster).
Steals: 3 (Trapp, Owens, Kynard).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .619, FT .800.
3-Point Goals: 9-14, .643 (Groves 5-6, Chapman 2-3, Moody 1-1, Ingram 1-3, Jawara 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 7 (Copeland 3, Parks 3, Jawara).
Turnovers: 10 (Ingram 3, Chapman 2, Jawara 2, Copeland, Parks, Anyaorah).
Steals: 10 (Ingram 3, Parks 2, Chapman 2, Jawara 2, Moody).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Bill Covington Sr., Mel Chettum, Brian Smoot.