Courtesy of North Carolina A&T Athletics
EAST GREENSBORO – The team with the nation’s longest current winning streak came into Corbett Sports Center to play the North Carolina A&T Aggies men’s basketball team on Wednesday night in the 23rd-ranked College of Charleston.
As if that was not enough, the Aggies then welcomed to #ClubCorbett on Saturday, the team with the nation’s second-longest current winning streak in the UNC Wilmington Seahawks.
The Aggies came much closer to ending the Seahawks winning streak before falling short, 66-61. The Aggies dropped to 6-11 overall and 1-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) despite another stellar performance from sophomore guard Kam Woods.
Three days after scoring a career-high 30 against Charleston, Woods posted 24 points on 6-for-9 shooting from 3-point range and 8-for-16 shooting from the field. Meanwhile, UNCW (14-3, 4-0 CAA) won its 13th straight game to remain undefeated in conference play.
“We played defense well, but we didn’t score the ball like we normally do,” said A&T interim head coach Phillip Shumpert. “The thing that hurt us was missed free throws. We got beat by five but missed eight free throws and got outrebounded 40-26. That has been an Achilles heel of ours all year because of the injuries to our two biggest guys. We’ve just been getting dominated on the glass. ”
The Aggies are missing 6-foot-9 Will Felton and 6-11 Harry Morrice, and 6-9 Austin Johnson returned on Saturday after missing A&T’s previous five games. Therefore, it was outside shooting and defense that helped the Aggies overcome a 15-point second-half deficit.
“Right now, we’re small. We have combo forwards playing center, and in a physical league like this one, people will try to go inside and pound you,” said Shumpert. “That’s what we’re going to get every game. So we have to get the guys who are going to play in the post for us a little more prepared from the jump, so they don’t get worn out.”
UNCW’s 6-7 guard Maleeck Harden-Hayes gave the Seahawks a 51-36 lead with 11:11 to play in the game after Trazarien White intercepted a Demetric Horton pace and pitched it ahead to Harden-Hayes for a layup. But sophomore A&T guards Kam Woods and Love Bettis helped the Aggies rally.
Woods sparked an 8-0 Aggies run by getting to the basket and scoring on a layup. The run also included a three from Bettis and a 3-point play from Woods to get the Aggies to within seven at 51-44 with 8:52 remaining. UNCW did push the lead back to double figures at 55-44 with 6:42 remaining.
But the Aggies outscored the Seahawks 12-2 over the next five minutes to cut UNCW’s lead to 57-56 as Horton hit a jumper from the elbow to cap the run. But UNCW answered with two crucial plays to clinch the win.
First, Donovan Newby dribbled down the middle of the lane and found teammate Amari Kelly cutting to the basket from the baseline and bounced a pass to him for a dunk to push UNCW’s lead to three. Then, after a missed jump shot from Horton, on UNCW’s next possession, they took the shot clock down to two seconds before taking the ball out of bounds underneath their basket.
Newby lobbed a pass high in the air on the inbounds play to the middle of the lane to Trazarien White, who caught it in the air and shot it simultaneously to score to beat the shot clock and give UNCW a 61-56 with 58 seconds to play.
“I thought that was the biggest play of the game,” said Shumpert. “We knew it was coming. But we didn’t stop it.”
Two Harden-Hayes free throws completed UNCW’s late 6-0 run as the Aggies were never able to recover. Harden-Hayes came off the bench to lead the Seahawks with 25 points and six rebounds on 9-for-16 shooting.
Bettis came off the bench to score 13 points in 17 minutes on 5-for-8 shooting. Horton made all six of his free throws to finish with 14 points and eight rebounds. In addition, he tied a career high with four steals.
A&T will not be facing a team with a lengthy winning streak on Wednesday when they travel 25 miles to Elon to face the Phoenix at 7 p.m.
“We’ve played the 23rd-ranked team in the nation, the team that was picked to finish second in the conference (Hofstra), and the team I think is the second-best team in the league (UNCW),” said Shumpert. “Northeastern was picked to finish sixth, so we played the most challenging part of our schedule early. So, I’m encouraged.”
Next Game: at Elon University 1/11/2023 | 7 P.M.