NC A&T moving to the Big South Conference has resulted in big home crowds so far. The Aggie faithful were packed in and in full effect on ‘Blackout’ and ‘Greek’ Saturday as the men hosted SC Upstate for the first time in a key afternoon inter-divisional conference game.
While the crowd was large and hyped, it was not the deciding element as the Spartans came into Corbett Center, the place called “Club Corbett,” and came out with a decisive 84-64 win.
Instead, it was the Spartans who just played better. The visitors shot 27 of 52 (51.9%) from the floor. They were almost as good from behind the arc making 14 of 29 3s (48.3%). They assisted on 22 of their 27 made baskets.
It was the fourth loss for the Aggies (8-13, 4-4 North) in Big South play, their third straight loss, and second straight home loss after winning 28 straight home games over three seasons.
NC A&T in tough three-game stretch
“Tough loss tonight, a tough week for us,” said NC A&T head coach Will Jones of this defeat. It followed a buzzer-beating loss at home to Campbell and an eight-point loss on the road at Longwood after leading for most of that game.
“Two close games and definitely a letdown at home tonight,” Jones said.
All five Spartans’ starters scored in double digits led by 19 points each from their scoring leaders, senior point guard Brysone Mozone and freshman off-guard Jordan Gainey. Both Mozone and Gainey had four 3-pointers. Dalvin White added 16, Josh Aldrich had 11 and Khydarius Smith had 10. Gainey and White both had six assists.
Coupled with Winthrop’s 92-88 loss at Longwood Saturday, USC-Upstate (9-11) is tied with Winthrop at the top of the Big South South Division with a 6-2 record.
“I thought they (SC Upstate) played the way they normally play,” said Jones. “We just showed up flat, the energy wasn’t there. So we lost by 20. We’ve got to figure this out before we play on Thursday. And we will.”
NC A&T was led by 21 points from Marcus Watson. Demtric Horton and Tyler Maye both had 10. The Aggies shot 24 of 67 (35.8%) from the field but made a woeful 3 of 25 shots from 3-point range (12.0%).
Second-half surge fizzles
The Spartans (9-11, 6-2 South) shot 16 of 30 (53.3 %) from the field in the first half. They were better from 3-point range making 9 of 16 (56.3%) while building a 42-32 halftime lead. The Aggies came out of the break and went on a 11-4 run to pull within 47-43 on a jumper by Watson at the 13:44 mark.
Gainey’s 3-pointer with 8:16 left restored Upstate’s lead to double-figures at 61-48. The Aggies never cut the lead below double-digits the rest of the way. They went down 20, at 75-55 on Mozone’s 3 with 3:41 to play.
NC A&T plays its next two Big South games on the road, at Winthrop Thursday (Feb. 3) and at Gardner-Webb on Saturday (Feb. 5).