It was the worst of times for the men’s NC A&T basketball team. It was the best of times.
Down 31-19 at the half while shooting 25% from the field, 1 of 7 from 3-point range Thursday vs. Drexel was the worst.
Outscoring the Dragons 27-4 to open the second half was the best. Eventually, the Aggies led by as much as 20, at 60-40 with 6:20 to play before Drexel found some offense. They cut the lead to 60-50 with just over two minutes left but it was too little, too late in a 68-55 NC A&T CAA win.
Watson spurt leads the NC A&T
Redshirt junior Marcus Watson, last week’s CAA Player of the Week, led the second-half onslaught, scoring 15 of his team-high 22 points. He finished 4 of 7 on 3-pointers, three in the second half. He punctuated the performance with a thunderous dunk in the final minute.
Drexel (12-9, 6-3) came in tied for second in the CAA. They played like it in the first half.
A tale of two halfs
The Dragons connected on seven first-half 3-pointers in building the halftime lead. The Aggies meanwhile struggled connecting on just on just eight of 32 shots from the field.
“I maybe can’t disclose what I said at the half,” NC A&T interim head coach Phillip Shumpert said after the game. “We just told the guys they had to step up and match their energy. We came out and played soft in the first half. They were the aggressor in the first half. We were the agressor in the second half.”
The second half was another story. The Aggies (11-12, 5-4) turned up the defensive pressure and held the Dragons to just nine baskets in 33 attempts (27.3%). Meanwhile, A&T shot a sizzling 16 of 27 (59.3%) to stride to victory.
NC A&T gets balanced attack
The Aggies had four players score in double-digits. Demetric Horton had 16 and Kam Woods had 11. Woods also had team highs of 11 rebounds and 7 assists.
Center Austin Johnson had 10 points and a key three blocks as the Aggies’ rim protector on defense. The Dragons’ scoring leader, 6-10 center Amari Williams (14.1 ppg.) was stymied by the 6-9 Johnson. Williams, with NBA scouts from the Detroit Pistons on hand to check him out, was held to just four points on 2 of 7 shooting.
Coletrane Washington and Justin Moore both had 14 points each to lead Drexel.
NC A&T completes its first run through the CAA with a home date Saturday vs. Monmouth (2 p.m.).