NC A&T Balance, Experience Too Much For Howard
WASHINGTON, D.C. - North Carolina A&T combined its balanced attack, led by senior guard Ta'Wauna Cook's game-high 22 points, and its overall experience into an 80-57 win over Howard University in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women's game at Burr Gymnasium.
The Lady Aggies (17-7 overall, 11-0 in the MEAC) won their 11th straight by using a 19-2 run over the last five minutes of the half to open a 42-25 lead the half. For the half, NC A&T shot 57 percent (17 of 30) while Howard missed 23 of their 30 attempts, many coming from close range.
"Experience is a huge factor," said Howard head coach Coach Niki Reid Geckeler. "But by now, we have enough experience to still be in it. We're more than 20 games into the season."
Howard (11-12 overall, 6-5 in the MEAC) was able to get 14 first half points from junior guard Zykia Brown but no one else scored more than three points. Meanwhile, the Lady Aggies, who have key players who have played in NCAA and NIT post-season play, used their bench liberally and did not seem to lose anything as they got 20 points from their reserves. Senior forward Lamona Smalley contributed 16 on 8 of 9 shooting and five other players contributed seven or more points.
"It takes a team effort to win," said Coach Geckeler. "A balanced attack has everyone scoring, so it takes a team effort to stop them."
This game was totally different from the game that NC A&T won, 79-69 on January 16 in Greensboro, NC. In that contest, the young Lady Bison played strong but missed some easy opportunities down the stretch.
"The difference today was that our energy level was low," said Coach Geckeler.
The Lady Bison, on the other hand, rely heavily on several freshmen and at times it showed in plays resulting in forced plays, rushed shots and missed assignments on defense. Howard was thus reduced to the scoring of Brown, who tallied her season average of 19 points and freshman forward Saadia Doyle, who recorded her 14th double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
"We have to continue to play and get better day by day," said Coach Geckeler. "We have to reassess and re-evaluate where we are and get ready for the tournament."
NEXT UP: North Carolina A&T will look to continue its current streak when it travels to Hampton, VA to take on the Lady Pirates of Hampton on Monday at 5:30 pm while the Lady Bison will try to snap their two-game skid when they host Norfolk State on Monday at 2 pm in Burr Gymnasium.