No. 15 North Carolina A&T Women’s Basketball (23-8) vs. No. 2 South Carolina (26-6)
Date: Friday, March 16, 2018
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Facility: Colonial Life Arena (Columbia, S.C.)
Series: South Carolina leads 2-0
Radio: WSJS (1320 AM, 93.7 FM, 104. 9FM); Play-by-Play: Donal Ware; Analyst: Cy Alexander
North Carolina A&T will make its fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its third trip to the national tournament in nine seasons. The Aggies have compiled a 23-8 overall record after going 15-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and were both co-regular-season champions and tournament champions. Last week, NC A&T defeated South Carolina State in the quarterfinals, Florida A&M in the semifinals and Hampton in overtime in the championship game of the tournament.
The Aggies enter the NCAA tournament having won 11 straight and 19 of their last 20 games. N.C. A&T ranks No. 3 in the nation in turnovers forced (23.03), No. 4 in rebounds per game (44.90), No. 5 in offensive rebounds per game (17), No. 7 in rebounds (1,392), No. 9 in free throw attempts (684), No. 11 in field-goal percentage (37.6), No. 20 in 3-point field goal defense (27.9) and No. 25 in turnover margin (5.13).
Now in his sixth season as N.C. A&T’s head coach, Tarrell Robinson guided the Aggies to a Round 64 appearance in 2016, losing to No. 1 seed Notre Dame. He won his 100th game of his coaching career earlier this season and has the Aggies rolling in the new year with only one loss in 2018. Robinson enters Friday’s game 122-66 as the Aggies head coach and has the highest winning percentage (.649) in school history.
Kala Green averaged 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and shot .73.1 percent from the free throw line (19-for-26) in three games during the MEAC tournament coming off the Aggie bench. Green scored 13 points and made all six of her free throws against S.C. State. She scored 18 points and hit three 3-pointers against Florida A&M, and in the title game Green scored 12 points on 10-for-16 from the line against Hampton.
The last time the Aggies lost away from Corbett Sports Center was a 72-65 road loss to Ohio. The Aggies have won 11 straight away from their home arena including the three victories they notched in the conference tournament. N.C. A&T will enter the NCAA Tournament having played its last six games away from home.
N.C. A&T posted a 12-3 mark at home this season, with their only losses in Corbett Sports Center coming to NCAA tournament-team Elon (Nov. 13), Power Five Georgia (Dec. 14) and MEAC power Hampton (Feb. 3).
C’Coriea Foy (12.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg) secured second-team All-MEAC honors and Alexus Lessears (8.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg) was named a third team All-MEAC selection. Kala Green was named the conference tournament MOP and was also named to the all-tournament team alongside Lessears.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS OVERVIEW
The Gamecocks are the defending national champions. They won their fourth-straight SEC Tournament championship this season after notching three wins over ranked opponents in a stretch highlighted by a 62-51 victory over No. 2 Mississippi State in the title game. This year marks the fifth-straight season USC enters the NCAA tournament with 25 or more wins.
This is the seventh-consecutive season the Gamecocks will participate in the NCAA tournament, the longest streak in program history. USC reached the NCAA Final Four for the first time in 2015 before capturing its first national title last season. The Gamecocks have played in eight Sweet 16s in their 14 previous times in the event, reaching that round in five of their last six tournament appearances. USC owns a 25-13 record all-time in the NCAA tournament including an 11-2 record in games played in Columbia.
A’ja Wilson was named espnW Women’s Basketball Player of the Year and SEC Player of the Year for the third time, making her the first three-time winner. She was also named SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year for the second time. Tyasha Harris earned All-SEC second-team honors and Bianca Johnson was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
NEWS & NOTES
N.C. A&T and South Carolina have met twice with the Gamecocks winning both meetings. The teams last met was in the 2008 WNIT with the Gamecocks winning 102-74 on March 21 in Columbia, S.C.
Only two current Aggies have played in over 100 games; Kala Green (118) and Quenswayla Story (112). Both Green and Story are the only players left from the 2016 NCAA Tournament team.
C’Coriea Foy leads the Aggies in points (12.9), assists (3.1), steals (2.5) and minutes played (28.3). Foy has been the Aggies top scorer 12 times, top person in steals 13 times and top assist person 10 times. She has five 20-plus scoring games with 21 double-figure scoring games. Foy scored 31 points on Jan. 2 against St. Andrews to become the first player in the Robinson era to score 30 or more points in a game.
Alexus Lessears leads the Aggies in rebounds (9.3), blocked shots (1.5) and in free throws made (68). Lessears has recorded seven double-doubles this season and has a career-total of 10 in two seasons. She has 13 10-plus rebounding games this season, 12 games scoring in double figures and has led the team in rebounding 18 times.
Kala Green dished out a career-high 11 assists while scoring 13 points against Saint Andrews. Against Georgia, she nearly led the Aggies to an upset over the SEC foe scoring 23 points hitting 6-of-11 3-pointers on Dec. 14 at home.
This season the Aggies are 20-0 when leading with five minutes remaining, 18-0 when leading at halftime and are 17-0 when holding opponents to 59-points or lower.
N.C. A&T ranks first in the MEAC in assists (442), offensive rebounds per game (17), rebounds (1.392), rebounds per game (67.0) and in turnovers forced (23.03). N.C. A&T’s 14.3 assists per game, 35.1 field goal percentage defense, 684 free throw attempts, 4.0 rebound margin, 5.13 turnover margin and 74.2 win-loss percentage all rank second in the conference.
Courtesy: N.C. A&T Athletics