JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Guard Tyler Maye’s last-second reverse layup proved to be the difference as North Carolina A&T picked up their first road victory of the season, 69-67, over the East Tennessee State.
Maye poured in a season-high 21 points and five rebounds on 8-for-11 shooting. Sophomore guard Marcus Watson recorded his first career double-double with 19 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
The Aggies (4-8) led 65-61 with 3:41 left in the game following two free throws from graduate guard Kameron Langley However, a 6-0 run from the Bucs (7-4) gave ETSU the lead, 67-65.
The next possession, Langley drove down the right side of the lane, weaved through a convoy of ETSU defenders and contorting his body, and finished with his left hand to tie the game.
A&T got a crucial stop on their next defensive possession, and graduate guard David Beatty grabbed the rebound and threw an outlet pass to Maye, who was not expecting the ball. However, the ball sailed out of bounds, giving possession back to the Bucs with 46 seconds to play.
ETSU’s Jordan King, who already had four threes on Tuesday night, got a good look from 3-point range, getting Maye in the air on a pump fake. But he could not convert as Watson grabbed the rebound for the Aggies with 32 seconds remaining.
Coming out of a timeout, Langley bled the clock near midcourt before going to work. He crossed over side-to-side, lulling the defense to sleep, and Maye, who was cutting back door out of the left corner, slid behind his defender and scored on a reverse layup on a pass from Langley with seven seconds to go.
The Bucs had one final chance.
They dribbled to midcourt to call a timeout, wasting a few seconds. Then, ETSU inbounded the ball to Ty Brewer, but newcomer and graduate forward Collin Smith towered over him, forcing a tough, fadeaway jump shot at the buzzer that fell innocently to the hardwood.
Smith, a transfer out of Central Florida, went 0-for-3 from the field in his debut, but the Aggies outscored the Bucs by 18 points in the game when he was on the floor.
“We’re a good basketball team,” said A&T coach Will Jones. “We’ve been tested on the road. We’ve played everybody tough. We were missing that inside presence, and Collin Smith gave us a defensive presence, and we got out of here against a tough Southern Conference team with a W.”
The Aggies came into the game 0-3 in games decided by 5 points or less this year, but that ended on Tuesday. It was also their 10th win all-time against a SoCon team.
The A&T defense did what they have done all season, forcing the Bucs into 18 turnovers, of which the Aggies scored 26 points. As a result, they held a 19-point advantage in points off turnovers in the game.
The Aggies did accomplish one thing they had yet to do – shoot better than their opponent at the free throw line. A&T came into the game in the bottom-10 in the country in free throw shooting. The Bucs were fourth in the country. However, the Aggies played disciplined defense, allowing just three free throw attempts for ETSU all game. Meanwhile, the Aggies shot 16-for-23 from the line.
A&T trailed by as many as 13 in the first half. They ended the first half on a 7-0 run to cut the Bucs lead to 37-31 at the half.
Watson kept the Aggies in it early, scoring 15 first-half points, including a couple of highlight-reel dunks.
Langley turned in an excellent game, notching 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. With his fourth assist tonight, he moved into the top-25 for career assists in NCAA history and now has 826.
King led the scoring efforts for ETSU with his 15 points.
Courtesy: North Carolina A&T Athletics