A&T’s men’s basketball team has claimed a MEAC division championship with its 55-53 victory over N.C. Central on Saturday night at the Corbett Sports Center in Greensboro.
Why the Aggies won
Senior Kam Langley, who had a difficult shooting night along with his teammates, made two key plays in the final seconds of a tight game to help secure the victory.
What it means
The victory gives the Aggies the Southern Division championship and a No. 1 division seed and bye into the semifinals, at 8:30 p.m. March 12, at the MEAC Tournament at Norfolk, Va. That means they would need just two wins to claim the tournament championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Jamir Moultrie: 14 points, four rebounds.
Justin Whatley: 12 points, eight rebounds.
Kam Langley: 12 points (5-for-19 FG), nine rebounds, three steals.
Webster Filmore: 12 points (5-for-6 FG), four rebounds.
Kwe Parker: 11 points, four assists.
Central’s C.J. Keyser missed a layup with two seconds remaining, and A&T’s Langley grabbed the rebound to clinch the victory.
With A&T ahead 54-53, Blake Harris made a free throw but missed the second with 13.2 seconds left. Harris shoots 84.3 percent, but the team finished 4-for-10 at the line.
A&T’s Langley drew a charge from Central’s Jahnathan Maxwell with 26.4 seconds remaining and the Aggies leading 54-53.
The win gives the Aggies a sweep of the Central series in its final season as a member of the MEAC.
The crowd of 776, permitted under eased capacity limits from Gov. Roy Cooper, was the largest to attend a sports event in Guilford County since the ACC Tournament in March 2020.
A&T won despite shooting 34.4 percent (22-for-64) and being outrebounded 50-34.
Neither team led by more than eight points, a margin A&T held inside the first two minutes of the second half.
Central had twice as many turnovers, 14, as it had made baskets, seven, in the first half. The Eagles finished with 24, although A&T could turn them into only 17 points.
Central shot 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) and A&T was 11-for-31 (35.5 percent) in the first half.
What they’re saying
“It was a tough game. I guess we had a lot of nerves. It was a gut-out, ugly type of game. You’ve got to win the pretty ones and the ugly ones.” – A&T coach Will Jones to broadcaster Spencer Turkin during the postgame interview.
“This was pure grit. We didn’t play well offensively. I don’t know if the guys, first time with the crowd, wanted to play really well. To be able to win this one, it’s a testament to how hard these guys have been working.” – Jones.
“I’m so proud. The first regular-season championship for A&T in over a decade.” – Jones.
N.C. Central: 2-4 MEAC, 4-7 overall.
A&T: 7-1, 11-10.
N.C. Central: Florida A&M, 7 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN+).
A&T: South Carolina State, 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Eddie Wooten is sports editor of the Winston-Salem Journal and the News & Record in Greensboro.Have something to say? Email Eddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @EddieWootenNR.