EAST GREENSBORO – Forgive the North Carolina A&T men’s basketball team for being sluggish Tuesday night at the Corbett Sports Center against NAIA school St. Andrews.
They had an extensive work schedule that included playing two power fives in a row and losing two tough games against mid-majors in Spartanburg, SC over the weekend.
But the Aggies found their energy late in the first half before turning it on to start the second half with a 109-57 win over the St Andrews Knights.
The Aggies have compiled more than 100 straight games at home for the first time since Corbett opened in 1978. In their last home game on November 7, the Aggies scored 100 points against Edward Waters. It is the first time they have scored 100 points or more in consecutive home games since the 1970–71 season.
Sophomore guard Kam Woods led six aggies in double figures with 19 points, a season-high eight assists and three steals on 8-for-15 shooting. Junior Mark Watson added 17 points in 7v13 shooting.
“It was just nice to get a win,” said assistant coach Bruce Martinwho stepped in as interim head coach Philip Shumpert who missed his third game in a row due to illness. “Our boys were away, so our last day off was a return day from Iowa.
We were pretty drained for a good part of the game because I think the zone slowed us down a bit. But we got it early in the second half when we needed it and of course it’s always great to get a win.”
The win ended Aggie’s (2-4) four-game losing streak. It also improved A&T to 48-12 in the last 60 games played at Corbett.
St. Andrews (0-7), who have now dropped 90 points or more in five of their seven games this season, had the game in single digits, 22-13, against an Ameil Malone jumper, 11-46 in the first stayed half
But two minutes later, Love Bettis pulled on a sophomore fast break, waving a three to put the Aggies 12, 25-13 ahead. After that, the Knights never took a double-digit lead. The Aggies added a 9-0 first-half run to take a 44-22 lead with 3:05 remaining in the first half.
A&T finished the last 2 1/2 minutes of the first half strong with nine straight points, including a three from Bettis, two fastbreak layups from Woods and an alley-oop dunk from Austin Johnson to finish the Aggies at halftime with 53: 28 to lead. Bettis came off the Aggies bench and scored a season-high 15 points on a season-high five 3-pointers scored.
The Aggies then started the half with a 14-2 run that contained two Webster Filmore Dunks and three Aggie 3-pointers gave A&T a commanding 67-30 lead three minutes into the second half.
“We have to keep getting better at what we do,” said Martin. “We need to keep building our good habits, keep going on offense and putting together full 40-minute games.”
The Aggies averaged a season-high 53.8 percent, gave out a season-high 30 assists, and grabbed a season-high 19 steals. Three Aggies had 11 points, including Johnson, senior Demetric Horton and second graders Kyle Duke. Johnson had a team-high seven rebounds, Horton added a career-high seven assists, and Duke hit 5 of 6 shots from the floor.
Malone led the Knights with 22 points and 12 rebounds.