Courtesy of Jailen Leach, graduate assistant. N.C. Central Athletics
South Carolina St. 3-16,0-3 MEAC
N.C. Central 9-8,2-1 MEAC
|South Carolina St.||38||29||67|
DURHAM, N.C. – The North Carolina Central University men’s basketball team defeated South Carolina State 71-67 in its MEAC home opener inside McDougald-McLendon Arena on Saturday evening. The Eagles remain unbeaten at home this season and extend their home game winning streak to nine, dating back to the end of last season (3/3/22).
In the first half, NCCU shot 44.8 percent (13-29) from the field and added four triples and eight points from the foul line. SCSU hit 15 of 28 field goals (53.6%) and seven of 10 free throws. After trading buckets the entire half, the score was knotted at 38 at the intermission.
The second half was similar with the teams trading scoring runs until the last few minutes. With less than one minute remaining in the contest, the Eagles showed why they ranked 17th in the nation in turnovers forced coming into the game. With 56 seconds left, senior guard Eric Boone snatched his third steal of the contest, allowing valuable time to run off the clock.
Junior guard Justin Wright followed Boone’s lead and intercepted a Bulldogs pass for his third takeaway of the contest with 40 seconds remaining. Wright’s steal led to two made free throws from Boone to put NCCU up 70-64. The Eagles forced another turnover and junior guard Ja’Darius Harris hit one of two shots from the charity stripe to put the game on ice.
Overall, the maroon and gray offense featured five individuals that scored 10 or more points. Boone spearheaded the charge finishing with a game-high 17 points, including eight of 10 from the free throw line, and dished out six assists.
Graduate student Brendan Medley-Bacon impacted the game on both ends of the floor, finishing with 15 points, eight boards, and three blocks. His rim protection and ability to alter Bulldog shots in the paint were huge for the Eagles’ defense.
Senior forward Kris Monroe was the most efficient Eagle, hitting five of eight field goal attempts and three of six shots from long range to pour in 13 points.
Wright also scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out two assists. Senior guard Marque Maultsby shot 50 percent from the field (4-8) and hit two of three shots from behind the arc to finish with 10 points and five rebounds.
SCSU’s top scorers were Jordan Simpson (13), Rakeim Gary (10), and Justin Wilson (10). Cameron Jones also had a solid game, finishing with nine points and seven assists.
Up next, NCCU (9-8, 2-1 MEAC) returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 21, and Monday, Jan. 23, hosting Delaware State University and Maryland Eastern Shore inside McDougald-McLendon Arena.