Aggie women fall to GamecocksCourtesy N.C. A&T Sports Information / March 23, 2018
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COLUMBIA, S.C. Forget all the labels that try to put limitations on what the North Carolina A&T women’s basketball team can accomplish: Historically Black college and university underdog, lower resource institution, no. 15 seed.
Head coach Tarrell Robinson wanted everyone gathered at Colonial Life Arena Friday night that he came inside the building to play in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament with a legitimate Division I program.
And that Division I program that plays on the east side of Greensboro, N.C., forced the defending national champions to use a little more perspiration than expected. In the end, the Aggies finally succumbed to the second-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks out of the Columbia Region, 63-52.
“We are an HBCU by tradition,” said Robinson when asked about what it meant for an HBCU to play competitively against a program like South Carolina. “We’re a Division I program. We prepare no different than the Gamecocks, so I don’t get caught up in that. Our tradition is great, but we go about playing and preparing for basketball no different than anybody else. I’m just hoping our young women will take this and believe more in our culture and the things we pride ourselves in every day.”
N.C. A&T (23-9) prides themselves on being a defensive-minded team that can turn teams over to create offense and rebound the basketball on the offensive end to create more offense. Despite the success, the Aggies have had using those facets of the game, they found themselves trailing the Gamecocks by as many as 20 in the second half and they were down 16 a minute into the fourth quarter. The Aggies outscored the Gamecocks 41-37 over the final three quarters of the game, but never could overcome the 26-11 deficit they faced after the first quarter. Bostick contributed 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting at the line.
“I tried to let everyone know that they were going to be nervous,” said Green, who was playing in her second NCAA tournament game. “You have to accept the fact that you’re nervous to play through that. They were nervous and didn’t want to admit it. They got on the court and it was like whoa.”
Green and fellow senior Quenswayla Story will go down as the only two players in program history to win two MEAC tournament championships in their respective careers. In addition to losing Green and Story, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season champs will also lose graduate forward Jade Scaife.
But Robinson and his staff will have sophomores Foy, Lessears, Bostick, Wilson, Hill, and Cinia McCray, junior Charnise Tyler and freshman Morgan Batie all slated to return. They will be returning to a team that went 15-1 in the MEAC, won all eight of their road conference games and gave the defending national champs a pretty good rumble.
“Yesterday it was more of a David and Goliath attitude from everyone,” said Robinson. “People were insinuating we were not going to put up a fight and the game was going to be over fast. That and itself, the score and itself, is going to really set a fire to these young women.”