The North Carolina A&T Aggies men’s basketball team won its fourth straight and improved to 3-0 with a 67-59 win over the Hampton Pirates Wednesday night at Corbett Sports Center. The Aggies improved to 8-9 overall, while the Pirates slipped to 4-9 overall and 0-2 in league play.
A&T and Hampton renewed their 70-year HBCU rivalry, which now spans three different conferences (Central Intercollegiate, Athletic Association, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Big South). The 66th meeting between the two teams included eight technical fouls, three ejections, including a fan tossed from the stands, and plenty of replay reviews to determine who received said technical.
“We definitely rekindle our relationship with Hampton,” said Will Jones. “I knew it was going to be chippy. But overall, the guys did what they needed to do to be 1-0 tonight, and now we’re going to get ready for Saturday.”
In between all the excitement and in front of the typical raucous #ClubCorbett crowd, the Aggies played like a fine-tuned machine most of the night. They tenaciously hammered the offensive boards, they defended well, and after the first 20 minutes, they only had four turnovers.
When Tyler Maye followed a Webster Filmore miss with 3:06 remaining in the first half, the Aggies took a 30-19 lead. A&T maintained a double-digit lead well into the second half. Maye’s putback was a part of a 15-3 Aggies run over the final six minutes of the first half to give the Aggies a 39-22 halftime lead.
“I thought we came out with the right energy,” said Jones. “It’s really good to be 3-0 in the Big South. But ended up being a very long game.”
The Aggies lead grew to as many as 25 points, 59-34 with 11:52 to play. As the Aggies built their lead, Hampton lost its leading scorer in Najee Graves to an ejection. Later, they lost starting forward DeAngelo Epps to an ejection because referees called him for two technical fouls.
The Pirates made a huge run over the next 7 ½ minutes despite the ejections. When Marquis Godwin netted a three off of a pass from Raymond Bethea, Jr., the Aggies lead was reduced to seven, 60-53 with 4:31 remaining.
Hampton had a chance to cut to five, but Godwin’s difficult layup in a congested lane came up short. Aggies guard Kameron Langley grabbed the rebound and found Maye sprinting down the court. Godwin ran down Maye and fouled him hard. Referees called Godwin for an intentional foul.
Maye netted both free throws, which seemed to settle the Aggies. Then, with less than a minute to play, Langley swooped down the lane and dropped off a pretty pass to Collin Smith, who dunked it to give the Aggies a comfortable 65-55 lead.
“I thought we executed in spurts tonight,” said Jones. “Defensively, we made them miss some shots early. But we’ve got to continue to get better. We can’t handle a lead right now. We think the game is over, so I’ve got to continue to coach them.”
Courtesy: NCA&T Athletics